2008’s Known Unknowns

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

Go there, too >>
The Executive Privilege Showdown

And here >>
President Bush’s Escalating Rhetoric Against
Iran

And here >>
Our Media Is Missing the Story of the
Century

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