Governor Phil Bredesen’s comments on Obamacare have the presidential speculators in a tizzy today. Should someone start a Draft Phil 2012 committee?
Since Politico and the Reagan Library must drag us into an even earlier 2012 race,* why not stir up drama on the D side?
The mid-terms proved that America is a center-right nation. Voters sent the message that Obama tried to do too much too fast and moved us unwillingly to the left. If Democrats really wanted a shot at preserving the White House, isn’t it in their best interests to run a man who is known for cleaning up the mess of socialized health care?
This really could be a winning strategy for Democrats. Consider:
- Bredesen is a popular moderate Democrat who is well-liked by both sides of the aisle in Tennessee.
- He could be viewed as someone who compromises and unites contrasted with the dissension that Obama-Pelosi-Reid have caused.
- Bredesen ushered in real reform in Tennessee, particularly with health care.
- As a state executive and former business man, he actually has leadership skills.
- We would get the Green Vest for four years as a nation! I’ll take the vest, and all its cheesy Click It or Ticket PSAs, over the TOTUS.
- Bredesen helped create jobs, real shovel-ready jobs, in Tennessee with projects like the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga. The same can’t be said for Obama.
Phil Bredesen as the Democratic nominee would put at least one staunchly Republican southern state into play. Others could follow.
Furthermore, depending on who the GOP nominee eventually is, it could pull in moderate Rs and independents. If it came down to a Huckabee/Bredesen match-up, it would be hard for me to support Huckabee. I’d be faced with a pro-choice moderate Democrat who was successful in my home state versus a pro-life fiscally liberal Republican whom I’m not crazy about. That’s a dilemma.
I genuinely like Bredesen. Outside of a Huckabee match-up, he’s too liberal for me, but I respect him and his wife. I’ve worked on various projects that involved his administration and always had positive experiences.
Given that we’re nine days past the 2010 election, any speculation at this point is primarily for sport. You’d think that Democrats would be intrigued at having a non-toxic name on the ballot. Not so much. Both Sean Braisted and Betsy Phillips, liberal Nashville bloggers, voiced dismay about Bredesen. Given the complete disarray of the Democratic Party in Tennessee, I can see why they aren’t happy.
Plus, Phillips is somewhat correct that Bredesen appears to be out-of-touch with average Democrats in Tennessee because of his Wal-Mart remarks:
This election got nationalized. I mean, I really think the Democratic Party … I think has got to get reestablished as the party of people who shop in Wal-Marts and go to Waffle House. People have got to start listening to these people and not the advocacy groups and the unions and everybody else that we’ve had as these constituencies. I think if we can do that and really try to understand what the people I’m just describing, who have been over the years the heart and soul of the Democratic Party, what they’re really looking for and try to provide that, I think we’ll do fine.
Outside of urban snob enclaves, most people shop at Wal-Mart in Tennessee. Nationally though, Phillips would be brandished with a scarlet smiley face for admitting she’s a Democrat who shops at there. I’m given questionable looks among conservative circles for admitting I shop at Wal-Marts in the DC area. Even Democrats in Chattanooga would probably give her the evil eye (Hey, I used to work with a lot of them. Urbanites in Chattanooga despise the retailer as much as New Yorkers.) Waffle House is where you go slumming in these areas. The nearest Waffle House is 32 miles away from DC.
However, how much discount shopping can an extremely wealthy health care CEO have done in his life? What makes him an expert with the salt-of-the-earth types? It comes across as hypocritical.
Bredesen does have clear negatives: his age and relatively low name ID. Plus, he was a businessman who worked for those evil profits, which is a turnoff for progressives. His questioning of Obama is also going to be a negative in some circles.
But he’s wealthy, which is sadly becoming a prerequisite for POTUS contenders. He’s also nearly the opposite of Obama in every way: older, white, Southern businessman-turned-governor vs. a young, urbane, Northern, African-American community organizer-turned-lawyer. Conservative-leaning Democrats and independents are probably still going to think badly of Obama in 2012, so it might behoove the Democrats to get as far away from him as possible.
Of course this post is written by an extremely conservative Tennessee ex-pat, so I’m fully admitting to doing this to add fodder to the 2012 Democratic nominee debate.
*My co-workers can testify that I let out a quick sob of despair when I read the Politico article on the planned debate in spring 2011 (as in a few months from now). If folks like me who live, breathe, eat, play and work in politics are burned out, what will average Americans think?