You’re going to think I’m kidding when I say that the biggest news in the ’08 presidential race today isn’t Obama’s announcement, rather that of Tom Tancredo. But I’m dead serious.
My best guess is that Americans will continue their flirtation with Obama, but that the Democrats will ultimately settle on a candidate of greater experience as their nominee in ’08. Judging from Obama’s resume, it’s hard to see how he’s qualified to lead America out of the catastrophe we’ve unleashed in Iraq.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Obama is ready to lead America. I’m eager to watch him campaign. But I’m sadly unconvinced that America is ready to be lead by Obama. If a Blue Dog Democrat like Harold Ford can’t secure a senate seat in Tennessee in 2006, I just don’t see how any African American wins the White House in 2008.
Which brings us to Tancredo. The anti-immigrant zealot has done more than any Republican since California Governor Pete Wilson to undermine his party’s prospects with Latino Americans. His populist xenophobia has been so damaging to the GOP’s outreach to the fastest growing ethnic voting bloc in the country that Karl Rove once furiously warned Tancredo never again to “darken the door” of the White House.
Tancredo’s calls to wall off the Mexican border and deport all undocumented workers play well to a significant portion of the Republican base, and his presence in the campaign will make it difficult for other GOP contenders to stake out a more reasonable stance. John McCain has been already been backed into this declaration on the border: “I think the fence is least effective,” he told Vanity Fair, “But I’ll build the goddamned fence if they want it.”
The longer Tancredo stays in the race and the further to the nativist right he pulls the other GOP hopefuls on immigration, the greater the boon to Democrats in vital swing states like Florida, New Mexico, and Nevada.