Monday, February 18, 2008

The Power Brokers

Are you left wondering when John Edwards or, perhaps especially Al Gore, are going to announce their endorsement of either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama? After all, high-profile endorsements serve many masters: the elevate the person being endorsed, but they do every bit as much for the profile of the one doing the endorsing.

Just about everything about this election cycle seems to defy tradition and history, however, and the endorsement game is no different. Because this race is likely to go down to the wire, perhaps in the Democrats' case remaining unresolved until the superdelegates commit in Denver, the power of endorsements is heightened even beyond what it otherwise would be. Why would Edwards want to expend political capital on an endorsement before Texas votes when Texas may well not decide anything? Why would Al Gore, clearly the party's biggest endorsement prize (and still the dream candidate for some in a brokered convention), not wait until he can maximize not only the impact of his endorsement but his larger political leverage? Remaining neutral for the time being has the added benefit of appearing to want to help keep the party united.

Just because there is a great deal of self-interest involved does not make this approach a bad strategy. Gore in particular might prove to be the power broker many envisioned that he would become in the 2008 election, albeit not in the manner -- as the reluctantly drafted candidate heroically come to save the party -- they expected. Then again, stranger things have happened than an 11th-hour Gore candidacy. The Democrats did not choose Woodrow Wilson as their nominee in 1912 until the 46th ballot at the Democratic convention, and only then as a compromise candidate, after all.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Saw your mug in the Midland newspaper -- great information !!