Madame President?

Clinton is in. Time to break out the confetti?

By Page Rockwell
Published January 22, 2007 6:30PM (EST)

Leaping lizards! It sure was a big weekend for candidacy declarations. Most notably, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton made the big "I'm in" announcement on her Web site, noting that "only a new president can renew the promise of America -- the idea that if you work hard you can count on the health care, education, and retirement security that you need to raise your family. These are the basic values of America that are under attack from this administration every day. And only a new president can regain America's position as a respected leader in the world." (Rousing though those sentiments are, there's something strange about her choice of words; emphasizing that America needs a new president is an odd rallying cry given the fact that 2008 is pretty much guaranteed to bring a new president, and I'm a little surprised that Clinton only went so far as to say America needs a new leader, not that she's the best choice. Still, she did also say "I'm in to win.")

So, will Clinton be the first woman president of the United States? Do we want her to be? With the playing field currently crowded with candidates, it's a little early to be predicting winners. And while voters' decisions will often depend on their perception of the candidates' personalities and reputations, we'd like to think that candidates' handling of the issues will still be important. When it comes to what many still see as the biggest question for 2008 -- Iraq -- Clinton's announcement only managed a rhetorical "How do we bring the war in Iraq to the right end?" as part of a list of "very big questions" for the upcoming race. I like Clinton (though I understand that this feeling is hardly universal). At least from my perspective, though, the answer to both questions is "it's too soon to tell."

Also declaring his candidacy this weekend was Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, the socially conservative Methodist turned evangelical turned Catholic who advocates a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and who has called the era of safe and legal abortion in the U.S. "a holocaust." Fortunately, no one seems to think his chances are even remotely good. (Even the Kansas City Star calls his a "long-shot bid.") It just goes to show, though, that the race for 2008 may be under way in earnest, but we still have a lot of wheat-and-chaff separation left to do.

Page Rockwell

Page Rockwell is Salon's editorial project manager.

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