David Broder identifies yet another possible self-inflicted wound by the Democrats — next year’s accelerated primary schedule:
If Al Gore had decided to try again, chances are he would have led the polls from the beginning and would have benefited if scattered rivals were dispatched before spring. In Gore’s absence, if Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut had been able to capitalize on his role as the vice presidential nominee in 2000 and make himself the consensus candidate of the party establishment, he also might have been helped by an early primary calendar. But Gore didn’t run and Lieberman hasn’t been able to assert his claim. And Hillary Rodham Clinton, who might have mopped the floor with all of the Democratic aspirants, said, “No thanks” for ’04.
The result is that the Democratic field is essentially leaderless, which means that whoever is chosen by March to carry the banner will be someone largely unknown to voters today. That is a heavy burden to carry into a race against an incumbent president.
The whole thing is today’s Required Reading.