There's a long way to go, of course, but it's worth making some preliminary comments about next year's election, now that we are 12 months out.
I spent the first 34 years of my political existence as a registered Republican, which shows a certain contrariness considering that I lived almost all that time in Massachusetts. It can be pretty lonely being a Massachusetts Republican! A few weeks ago I changed my registration to "unenrolled." I did this out of an abundance of disgust over Bushism, most profoundly on the subject of torture, but with strong contributions from the botched Iraq war, reckless spending and general incompetence.
So, looking at the GOP field first, I have to say I'm pretty disappointed. Ron Paul is interesting. I have libertarian sympathies, but I think the extreme libertarian positions he stakes out are impractical and Utopian, unsuited to the real world. On the other hand, he has principles and wants to get us out of Iraq immediately, which makes him the only anti-war GOP candidate. I think it goes without saying that libertarians are unlikely to be torture supporters.
I think I would find either McCain or Thompson acceptable presidents, although I'm disappointed McCain hasn't done more to distance himself from the Bush excesses. At least neither of them seems hell-bent on either torture or excessive executive branch power.
I would have been favorable disposed to the Mitt Romney that was governor of Massachusetts, but unfortunately that Mitt Romney isn't running. The one running is a completely unprincipled, pandering pretty boy in a suit that will say anything to anybody to win some votes. No thanks.
Giuliani is the closest thing to Bush II that's running, and obviously unacceptable. If there's anything worse than a Bush, it would be a Bush who was competent in his exercise of unrestrained executive power.
None of the other Republicans have a shot nor deserve one.
On the Democratic side, I can't say that I'd be happy to see Hillary elected. Oh, she's competent enough, and calculating enough to avoid screwing things up too much. On the other hand, it means another 4-8 years of bitter partisan warfare and no real progress on the issues facing the country. And she'll stay in Iraq.
Chris Dodd gets points for his principled stands against torture and executive excess, but he doesn't seem viable to win the whole thing.
I don't agree with Obama on many policy matters, but he seems to be man of character who would be a prudent president. And unlike nearly anyone else, he seems to have the potential to transcend the divisions crippling our political discourse.
Edwards also seems like he'd be a decent president and I'd probably pick him over most of the GOP field, but he's no sure thing.
The rest of the Democratic field is, like the second tier of Republicans, not worth spending much time on.