does a great job of skewering the current mentality of most Democrats with regard to this year's Presidential election:
"I only care about one thing," they all say. "Which of these guys can beat Bush?" Secretly, they believe none of them can, which makes the amateur pragmatism especially poignant.
Nevertheless, Democrats persevere. They ricochet from candidate to candidate, hoping to smell a winner. In effect, they give their proxy to the other party. "If I was a Republican," they ask themselves, "which of these Democratic candidates would I be most likely to vote for?" And by the time this is all over, most of the serious contenders will have been crowned the practical choice for at least a moment.
Yep. Hint: your party has become dysfunctional if your hate for your opponent outweighs the passion for your own.
And then Kinsley does a rundown of the candidates, and how they might be viewed through such a lens:
First it was Lieberman the Centrist. "I'm actually for Dennis Kucinich," a Democrat might say, "because I like his position on nationalizing all the churches. But I'm supporting Joe Lieberman. His views on nearly everything are repellent to me, and I think that's a good sign."
Then the General entered the race. And I don't mean General Anesthesia. A man in uniform, Democrats thought. People like that sort of thing, don't they? And yet he's a Democrat. Or at least he plays one on TV. True, on most issues he has either no known position or two contradictory positions. But he says he can requisition those missing parts. And he's a General. Talk about pragmatic! But when the General traded in his uniform for a fuzzy sweater, he suddenly looked less General-like than Al Sharpton.
Some Democrats cheated and looked into their hearts, where they found Howard Dean. But he was so appealing that he scared them. This is no moment to vote for a guy just because he inspires you, they thought. If he inspires me, there must be something wrong with him. So, Democrats looked around and rediscovered John Kerry. He'd been there all along, inspiring almost no one. You're not going to find John Kerry inspiring unless you're married to him or he literally saved your life. Obviously neither of those is a strategy that can be rolled out on a national level. But he's got the résumé. And gosh, he sure looks like a president (an "animatronic Lincoln," as my Slate colleague Mickey Kaus uncharitably described him).
So, it's a deal? Probably, but just to be completely businesslike, Democrats are taking the opportunity to check out John Edwards. He certainly is good-looking, though maybe not in a presidential way. He lacks the uniform, but he has a Southern accent, which is almost as good if you're trying to seduce those non-liberals.
Edwards seems the most appealing of the Democrats, because even though his message is fuzzy, it's optimistic. Even though his perspective of disadvantage in America is skewed, he at least puts forth some sort of vision, and speaks about how he thinks he's going to make it better. And yet, as Kinsley points out, most Dems would probably vote for Edwards as much because they think "he can carry the South" as for his views, as much because of his accent as because of what he's saying with it.
And that's where the Democratic electorate seems to find itself these days. I heard a quote by a woman the other day saying "I'd vote for Mickey Mouse over George Bush...anybody but Bush!". And that insipid thoughtlessness, opportunism, and overriding hatred will most likely be their biggest liability in the Fall.
As Kinsley points out, Republicans may be more dogmatic and simple-minded when selecting candidates...but in run-ups to elections that's a virtue, not a vice.