It's always fun to mess around with predicting an election nearly two years in the future. Here are my guesses, starting with:
Hillary Clinton. She's giving John Kerry a run for his money in the flip flop category. She's just not very likable, and she's a woman (yes it still matters), and even Hollywood's Democrats are beginning to figure all this out. And then there's Bill! What to do with him? She does have a lot of money and the ability to raise a nearly unlimited amount, so that might tip the scales in the primary but I can't see that she can overcome her high negatives in the final election.
Barack Obama. How far can a nice looking, ( I don't mean to say "clean"!) smooth talking, black guy with next to no experience, and who can't even get the support of blacks, get, really?
John Edwards. How far can a nice looking, smooth talking, white guy with next to no experience, get, really? On the other hand if Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton could pull it off, why couldn't he?
Joe Biden. If he can get his foot of his mouth and use it to run with it's not impossible, just unlikely.
John Kerry. Forget about it.
Chuck Schumer. Next time.
Al Gore. He's got one chance: if everyone else gets their socks tied up in a knot, he's their man, but with the primaries structured as they are, and as early as they are, that's a real long shot. But it would sure be a fun race. I long for the old days when candidates were actually selected at the conventions. It lent a lot of passion to what has now become a stage managed event.
John McCain. Nice to see a guy with morals. But the McCain Feingold act is a travesty, and he has other populist tendencies that scare the hell out of me. On the one hand it certainly shows strength of character when someone has survived years in a North Vietnamese prison camp, but strength of character can also be taken too far. Besides all that he's almost as old as me! That's scary too.
Mitt Romney. Haven't a clue. He's a big question mark. And that's not an advantage even this early in the game.
Rudy Giuliani. He's on wife number three, but he seems like the most sensible of the lot. If only he can get nominated, and I think he can get nominated because, after all, who else is there? Like Hillary, he can raise a lot of money. The southerners probably won't take a very well to a New Yorker, but I think they'll have to get over it.
The real facts of the matter probably depend more upon what happens between now and then, which in politics is a very long time indeed. Here are several scenarios:
The war in Iraq steadies out. Bush sinks a three pointer in the final minutes of the game. Good for Rudy because all the democrats are advertising their antiwar stances in one way or another.
The war in Iraq doesn't steady out. Iraq breaks up in a civil war. We leave or get out of the way. Bad for the US. Good for the Democrats, especially for Joe Biden who came out for separatism long before anyone else.
The terrorists succeed in doing something significant. Bad for the Democrats. Good for Rudy. He's made his bones on that front.
The economy tanks. Actually, tanking is probably the wrong term, but the strength of the economy has been up for quite awhile and is certain to go down at some point in time. The questions are how much and at what point in time? If it happens during the election period, it will obviously be good for the Democrats. Even John Kerry probably couldn't lose this one. If it happens after the election the new Democrats will have a tough row to hoe in 2012.
North Korea simmers on, unresolved. Probably. No matter.
We bomb Iran. A full-blown attack is highly unlikely and politically nearly impossible to sustain. Nevertheless, Bush isn't running for reelection and hot pursuit of the Iranian bomb suppliers into Iran is likely. The case for this adventure is being prepared even now. The question is whether it would be done overtly or covertly. If covertly, I doubt the Iranians would say a word.