"Declaring" is an act that marks the start of your "Candidate Campaign", which is subject to a different set of legal rules than a "Candidate Committee" (what a candidate can form before they "declare". It takes some preparation to be ready for that. I doubt he'll declare right away. He has said he is going to run.
The Congressional Progressive Caucus has little power in the current Republican-dominated House (and no presence in the Senate), but it does have observeable effects sometimes. It organized the Democratic house revolt against the Iraq war bill, that led to 2/3 of the Democrats in the house voting no despite their leadership supporting the bill (and Gephardt being almost a co-author :/). Kucinich was chair of the progressive caucus and that was one of his claims to leadership experience, when he ran for president.
I think the best place for Clark would be as secretary of Defense or State in the next Democratic presidency. Those are clearly where his skills, experience, and connections would most help. I don't quite see what he's got to make him a great governor, but I don't know or live in Arkansas. If he ran for governor and won and did a good job, great.
Do it for a local or state candidate, but try to work for an organization that will still be around in 2008, so that the organizing you do for them today, will translate into a head start for the 2008 campaign.
Broadening the sample size a bit, it's also worth mentioning that in the last four presidential elections in a row, we had a candidate who evaded military service going up against a candidate who served in a war. Look how that has turned out. Being a top general does count for more, but it really doesn't look like military service is a key factor in helping a candidate win.
"Senator" doesn't make someone a loser. It's "Governor" that makes someone a more likely winner. Or VP. Anyone who's not a former or current Governor or VP, is at a huge disadvantage, because their experience is less relevant to the job they're running for. Clark is in the same boat as all the congresscritters here - he's never been Governor of VP.
We've had exactly one former top general elected president in each century so far: Washington in the 18th, Jackson in the 19th, Eisenhower in the 20th. We've had something like three times that many come out of Congress to the presidency. Sure, the sample is small, and we don't get a lot of former generals running, but really, there's no data here that would lead us to the conclusion that generals make better candidates. And there's no obvious reason for it, either.
Governors and VPs make better candidates because for pretty obvious reasons. Governor of a US state is the closest job there is to being President.
If you're making a new list where you drop all the Senators and Reps, drop Clark too. Make a list that just has former Governors or VPs.
There's nothing unfair about it. He should have been openly and loudly opposing the rush to war, in the fall of 2002 and spring of 2003, when it might have made a difference. Of all people he might have actually made a difference, and at least brought some more former military into the anti-war movement. He was quiet and subdued when we needed people like him to take a bold public stand. I hope he regrets it, but I'd like to see a frank public apology before I believe that.
Which is not to say I wouldn't support him for president - if Feingold doesn't run, and Rendell doesn't run, Clark is about the only one in the possible field (speculated so far) who I feel more good than bad about. He's a smart man, and a candidate we could work with, but I doubt he really understands grassroots, and he's not (so far) the kind of politically courageous candidate I'd like to get behind. He's certainly no Dean, not by a long shot.
That may be true for much of the Republican delegations to Congress, but the Republicans running the executive branch have power independent of, and superior to, DeLay's. If they forced it, the Rove & Cheney Republicans could definitely oust DeLay. But if he doesn't go quietly, it'd come at a significant cost.
Sugar Land, Tex., April 16 - Patricia Baig, a substitute teacher with a comfortable inheritance, paid $2,776 this week to call for Representative Tom DeLay's resignation.
Ms. Baig, 57 - who identifies herself as a fellow Republican of Mr. DeLay, the House majority leader, and is one of his constituents - took out a full-page advertisement on Wednesday in the 62,000 copies of the weekly free Fort Bend Southwest Sun. It urged demonstrators "who want ethical reform" to rally against Mr. DeLay's scheduled keynote speech Saturday night to the National Rifle Association in downtown Houston, "to protest the actions of Representative DeLay and ask for his resignation," while adding her gun-owner's caveat: "This is NOT a protest of the N.R.A.!"
NH was the one state that flipped from Bush to Democratic, from 2000. Three states went the other way: Florida, Iowa, and New Mexico (Bush stole Florida but Gore got more votes there, so I count it as flipped).
There were several significant new factors at play in New Hampshire. If Kerry's performance was what made the difference, note that Kerry was effectively the "home" candidate - over 50% of NH voters live in the Boston media market, where the local network TV affiliates are the Boston stations, and the big paper is the Boston Globe. However, it's hard to say that it was really Kerry's performance that flipped New Hampshire. There was a huge volunteer effort from much more heavily populated Massachusetts, motivated by our intense dislike of Bush - something Gore didn't have available. And personally, I think the biggest factor was the long, intense, Democratic primary, with a wide field of candidates, all constantly bashing Bush, with no Republican primary to balance it out. NH is a very small state, with a very small population. By the time that primary was over, I think a majority of NH voters had gone to see multiple Democrats speak, in person.
Dean's constant repetition of the message the "Bush raised your property taxes, and shoved extra expenses on your school systems", might alone have been enough to stomp Bush's chances of winning NH. Those have been the two biggest issues in NH politics in recent years, and it was very reasonable to partly blame Bush for both of them.
Kerry sucked as a candidate. About as badly as any Democrat could suck and still have any chance of getting the nomination in the first place. As one of his constituents for his entire time in the Senate, I knew before the campaigns even started that he would suck as a candidate, and I started dreading it as early as 2002.
This is one of the ideas floating around about how to win, that I hate the most. I almost seethe with frustration every time I hear it said. We absolutely do not need to run a "red stater" to win.
It does not matter where the person is from, unless they happen to come from a state big enough to swing the election, and it's a state they would swing from Republican to Democrat by dint of being the candidate. For example, a popular Democratic Florida governor or ex-governor in 2000 or 2004 would have won.
But even in that very narrow case, I still hate it. Because it's the old tactical-only thinking that is leading us into becoming a minority party.
To win, we need to run someone that appeals to people, and we need to have an effective campaign everywhere. Where that candidate is from is not even close to as important as who that candidate is, and how we run.
Dean came from a tiny blue state. I have no doubt he would have had a pretty solid win over Bush if he'd made it to the general.
Gore came from a sizable, winnable red state. He lost that state, and though he did barely eke out a win (which he allowed to be taken away), it was a miserable showing.
The best candidate is someone with a solid record of results that people can point to and say "see, this is why you should vote for him/her"; someone who speaks clearly and straightforwardly so voters will trust him/her; someone with a sense of humor and a knack for public speaking; a candidate who is in politics to do things, not to win elections, because the public will sense that; backed by a campaign that embraces the base, has a thematic message that excites people, and honestly tries to talk to everyone all over the country. The candidate's home state isn't even on the list, because we don't want to seek the kind of narrow win where flipping one single state is a make-or-break matter. And people do not vote for someone because he's from their region.
Above all, the winning candidate and campaign will be transformational. We cannot win in the long run by doing what Gore and Kerry and McAuliffe and so on have done: looking at the electorate as is, assuming it is fixed that way, and making tactical moves to appeal to what's there just barely enough to win. We will win in the long run only by truly seeing what the electorate could be if we made an honest effort to change the country, and putting in that effort.
I think you're looking at a different side of this than the one that matters to those of us who care about it. You're focusing simply on the readers, and how much they know, or care, about the identities of the bloggers they read. From that perspective, you're right - the net has achieved King's ideal. I rarely know, or notice, whether the people I see posting on these political blogs are white or black or amerind or latino or male or female. As far as that goes, great. It means that when you're in, you're in. If you post a diary on kos and kos frontpages it, people will read you, often without an inkling of your gender or race.
That perspective entirely avoids the real issue we're thinking about.
The point isn't whether people will treat you fairly once they're already reading you, it's whether you'll post for them to read in the first place, and whether, when you do post, they'll see it.
The point isn't that we don't know whose perspectives we're reading, it's whose perspectives we actually do get to see.
Let's take a hypothetical. I'll deliberately choose one that nobody has presented any data about or talked about in this discussion so far. Let's say that most political bloggers are at least lower middle class economically, and that very few poor people living in urban areas participate in the political blogs we read. Of course, when you read someone's post, you don't know how much money they have, and you don't know how urban their place of residence is, unless they tell you. So if the above hypothetical is true, you won't know that you're reading very few urban poor.
However, that won't change the fact that you're not reading blogs by urban poor - not knowing that you're not doing so, doesn't mean you'll hear their perspective. It doesn't mean that the issues of high priority to them will get a lot of coverage. It simply means that you won't be aware of the problem, and be less likely to see it as a problem.
No matter how race-blind, gender-blind, class-blind, or otherwise identity-blind and group-blind a read you, and I, and everyone else may be, it will still be important for us to pursue diversity, for that reason.
One of the biggest divides between the new progressive activist netroots & grassroots, and the old power structure in the Democratic party, both nationally and in most states I am familiar with, is exactly that: cliquishness. People who have been working together for decades and know each other, have forgotten how to be open to new involvement. Many of them actually feel threatened, and resist, when new groups try to get involved. But even those who genuinely want new activists, just aren't in the habit of making it happen, and don't really know how.
All these new progressive groups that have formed in the past few years, including DfA and PDA, and the community blogs like DailyKos, are full of new people with new ideas. Because we're new institutions. But if we don't remain vigilant, over time, we too will become exclusionary cliques. Not because we want to, but because, as Dean said, diversity takes work. And if you don't pay attention to it, it is not likely to happen.
We need to keep thinking about ways to venture outside our "clumps", participate in each others' institutions, find new people, welcome them, and encourage them to be leaders. Which, in blog-land, includes reading and commenting on their blogs, inviting them to post on ours, and linking to their writing.
I think the strength of the linkage arguement is overplayed.
I think participation is more important. It's harder to measure. Real connection between blogs flows from having people from one blog participate in another. It's hard to measure - many of the "academic" blogs, like juancole and TPM, don't have comment threads, so they don't foster community in the same way.