2008's Known Unknowns

The 2008 Election is far from decided

| September 5, 2007

It's more than a year before Americans head to the polls to pick their next president and already the populace is suffering from election fatigue. With candidates from both sides of the aisle reciting rote answers at their umpteenth debates, it's tough to believe anything fresh might roil the stagnant political waters. But, as former Rep. Mark Foley and soon to be former Sen. Larry Craig will tell you, the political landscape can change very quickly. Putting aside the potential for another Republican sex scandal or any more fantastically expensive haircuts for John Edwards, here's a rundown of some political bombshells that could shake things up.

The Battle Over the Primary Battle
The lopsided system of presidential primaries is in chaos. States are rushing to schedule their primaries earlier in the year in calculated attempts to garner more political sway. The resulting schedule debacle has turned into a game of political leapfrog, with Iowa and New Hampshire desperate to retain their important early positions. The wrangling is so intense, reports Roger Simon of Politco.com, that no one knows what the primary season will look like next year. Simon argues that candidates who fare badly in the early primaries could 'fizzle' without enough time to regain their losses -- essentially putting the decision of who Americans will get to vote for in the hands of two otherwise not particularly noteworthy states. Other pundits think the compressed schedule will lessen the importance of the early states, and give more citizens more input in the race. What will actually happen is yet to be seen.

The Next War?
The debate about the war in Iraq is effectively over, writes Salon blogger Glenn Greenwald (login required), but the debate over a potential war with Iran has just begun. Republican presidential hopefuls John McCain and Rudy Giuliani are agitating for action against Iran, and opposition among the Democratic contenders seems hard to find. Military moves against Iran, Greenwald argues, could be more than bellicose rhetoric. Last Tuesday President Bush said that Americans would be caught 'under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust,' if the United States hesitates on Iran. (Recall then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice's September 2002 warning: 'We don't what the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.'). Bush's speech was followed by the arrest of eight Iranian 'energy experts' in Baghdad. While it's unclear if Bush's belligerence against Iran is true threat, impotent saber-rattling, or politically expedient distraction, another issue that remains unknown is how 2008's presidential wannabes will navigate the tough talk -- and how their responses will play out with the voters.

What Executive Privilege?
The scandal over the politically motivated firings of US attorneys has turned into a fight between the White House and Congress. Claiming executive privilege, the Bush White House has refused to honor congressional subpoenas against administration officials. But executive privilege can be suspended in an investigation of criminal wrongdoing, Time's Reynolds Holding reports. If Congress continues to press White House aides like Harriet Miers to testify under oath, the tussle between the executive and legislative branches could end up in the Supreme Court. Such a dramatic constitutional dust-up could dominate the media's agenda in the run-up to the election. The question is, would people care? The progressive blog Firedoglake is already pummeling the media for not following the story close enough. So, then again, the whole story might just fizzle out.


Go there >> It's Not the Bounce, It's the Fizzle