Begala is a legitimate pundit and Beltway insider, but I would have thought the ADP could have found someone with a little more star power. The banquet invitation even touts the event's purpose as "Kicking off the 2006 election season". And Paul Begala is the ADP's choice to fire up the rank-and-file heading into an election year?
I am not criticizing Begala, in fact it looks as if he is stepping in at the last minute as a favor to the ADP. But why not a Southern Governor like Mark Warner (VA), Phil Bredesen (TN), or Mike Easley (NC). John Edwards doesn't have much to do these days besides speaking at Democratic events. Or maybe Artur Davis could call in a favor from one of his House colleagues. With the possibility of Alabama primary playing a crucial role in the 2008 Democratic nomination, I'd have thought a high profile Democrat would have been eager to speak.
The 2006 elections could determine whether Democrats are a viable force in state politics or are constantly playing catch-up to the GOP. With little excitement being generated by leading Alabama Democrats, they could use an injection of enthusiasm from the outside.
And with all due respect to Paul Begala, I am not sure how much excitement he is going to generate.