Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Evan Bayh (D-IN) have already dropped out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008. Too bad. Both are serious men who deserved the chance to put their case to the nation.
There are still plenty of people whom the Great Mentioner has in the race or considering it, from Hillary (D-NY), Barack Obama (D-IL) and John Edwards to Tom Vilsack (D-IA Gov) (who's already announced), Bill Richardson (D-NM Gov) and Wes Clark (USA, ret'd). John Kerry (D-MA) was openly flirting with another run; he's pulled back a bit--not much--since his gaffe during the recent campaign. And there's Al Gore, who has said he's not running but has not shut the door completely.
I say, let them all run! Sure it will be confusing and pundits will complain that the Democrats are cutting each other's throats, but the nation deserves a wide-ranging debate over its future. We will all benefit from having many voices in that debate.
Right now, I'm leaning toward Obama--I'm reading his latest book, The Audacity of Hope--but I would love to see Bill Richardson and Al Gore, in particular, come into the race. (Richardson may announce as early as next month.) They are men of broad experience who know what it takes to make national policy. We should hear from them.
(The Great Mentioner was, as far as I know, the coinage of Sen. Fred Harris, a Democrat from Oklahoma who ran for the nomination in 1972 and 1976; I had the great pleasure of working on the latter campaign. He used to say that the Great Mentioner would pick out potential candidates, after which stories would magically appear in the press--mainly newspapers in those days--that "Sen. So-and-So has been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate.")