I've been asked via email to take another one of my DailyKOS comments and reproduce it here. Not a problem, and here's the thread it came from.
Rob: [Clark's excellent chances in the south] doesn't necessarily mean that Clark should be the Presidential candidate. If anything, it implies that he'd be an absolutely ideal VP. (Which he would be, and I'm still convinced that he'd be willing to accept that if the presidency isn't in the offing.)
I think the thing that people should keep in mind is that the successful candidate will need practically every advantage possible to take down the Bush machine. He'll have to have the Dean-esque volunteer machine. He'll have to have the party behind him, in a way that Gore never did with the DLC. He'll have to be able to handle, nay, control the media coverage of his campaign. He'll have to get Dem-leaning pundits out in force in order to support him (yes, this does mean the bloggers doing their part, as well as American Prospect/Washington Monthly/American Guardian types getting into the act and onto TV as much as possible). He'll need to have some sort of basic story for his campaign that makes him fit into an archetype that Americans can accept (like Bush's "folksy" bit).
Most importantly, he'll need to train every remaining resource he has on checking the Republican oppo research and responding in kind.
(Yes, this is also a role for the bloggers. It's one of the things we're good at.)
Honestly, if even one of these things is ignored, Bush will likely get re-elected. Each would provide a hole through which the Republicans could fit a wedge that would crack the Democrats wide open, and no candidate so far has all of these covered. If Dean can make peace with the media, he could be close, but right now the Republicans are defining the Democratic race- witness Russert- and that's a huge, election losing problem.
Yes, there is hope, but let's not kid ourselves. Starry eyed optimism is exactly what Rove wants. A democratic win will be considered an upset no matter how world events move over the next year and a half. Upsets are damned hard. Not impossible, which is why people should remain somewhat optimistic... but they're hard.