The Corner

Idle Speculation

In theory, I’m against thinking through the 2008 election before the 2004 one is over. But yesterday some colleagues and I were thinking out loud about what the Democratic party’s response to a Kerry loss would be. I assume that having spent a year talking about how vulnerable Bush is, many, perhaps most, Democrats will say that a wartime incumbent with a recovering economy couldn’t be beaten. I assume, as well, that there will be at least 2 years of magazine articles and panel discussions trying to figure out verbal formulas to bridge the foreign-policy chasm within the Democratic party. The question was raised: Will Hillary run as a straightforward hawk in 2008? In the last 34 years, the Democrats have only run as hawks when there were no obvious national security threats to the country–when the nation was at peace, in the three presidential races from 1992 to 2000. When the stakes are raised, the modern Democratic party has too large a dovish constituency to ignore. So I figure that how the Democrats position themselves in 2008 will depend on what the national-security situation is, and that the direction of that dependence will be the reverse of what it should be.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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