Ugh. Another day of pettiness from Hillary Clinton and her crew — we have to sit through seven more weeks of this, just because pundits are bad at math? Sigh…anyway, after referring to Hillary Clinton somewhat off-the-record as a “monster,” (while promoting a book in England, and not speaking for the Obama campaign), author, journalist and genocide expert Samantha Power resigns as an Obama foreign policy advisor. This is mainly because the Clinton campaign called for her head (less than a day after Wolfson’s Ken Starr analogy, mind you) and apparently deemed her original apology not sufficient.
To put things into perspective, when SNL’s Tina Fey called Clinton a “bitch” several times over two weeks ago on national television, Bill Clinton called to thank her. (And, when Hillary Clinton suggested somebody kill Ralph Nader back in 2000, everyone just shrugged it off. Somehow, that seems worse to me than calling someone a “monster”…I’ll never understand why that didn’t cause more of a stir.)
In any case, Power is out (for now — I expect she can come back once the Clinton people internalize the reality of their loss.) To be sure, her remark was unfortunate in public, but she did apologize. But I guess the Clinton campaign just has a problem with strong women speaking their mind, when that mind is directed against Her Eminence. And particularly when the strong woman in question just happens to have way more national security cred than Hillary Clinton, and thus puts the lie to her recent slobbering over John McCain: While Samantha Power was risking her life to research The Problem from Hell and get a handle on the world’s most nightmarish dilemma, Hillary Clinton was toodling around Bosnia with a security detail, Sheryl Crow, and Sinbad. O, beware, my lady, of jealousy; It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on.
Update: Clinton dispatches Wesley Clark and Jamie Rubin to pile on. Charming. Rubin’s always been a stooge, but I thought Gen. Clark had more class than this. Guess I was wrong.
“The Arab states agree on one thing: Iran is emerging as the big winner of the American invasion, and both President Bush’s new strategy and the Democratic responses to it dangerously miss the point…[T]he Shiite clerics in Iraq have achieved fundamental political goals: capturing oil revenues, strengthening the role of Islam in the state, and building up formidable militias that will defend their gains and advance their causes as the Americans draw down and leave. Iraq’s neighbors, then, see it evolving into a Shiite-dominated, Iranian buffer state that will strengthen Tehran’s power in the Persian Gulf just as it is seeks nuclear weapons and intensifies its rhetoric against Israel.”
By way of Dangerous Meta, former Dem candidate Wesley Clark argues for a revised strategy in Iraq, one centered on border control, the reduction of Iranian influence in the region, and the use of carrots rather than sticks to defang insurgents.
To be honest, I’ve only had one eye on the news the past few days, as I’ve been busy relocating back to NYC. But what I have seen…oh my word. While the world looks on with a mix of horror, sympathy, and schadenfreude, New Orleans has fallen into almost-total anarchy. Other bloggers have been keeping up with the madness much better than I, so I’ll defer to them: As I noted earlier, Looka and Ed Rants are both doing a particularly good job covering the catastrophe, and Breaching the Web and Medley, among others, have ably drawn attention to both the Dubya administration’s culpability for the extent of this crisis and its grotesquely inappropriate and insufficient response. I assumed I couldn’t think any less of Dubya and his cronies after four years, but watching their sneering at desperate people, their mealy-mouthed evasiveness, and, most of all, their sheer, blatant incompetence — while Americans are suffering and dying in their homes — it’s disgusting. They’ve been exposed before all as pathetic, self-absorbed fuck-ups…at the cost of hundreds to thousands of lives and one great American city. Update: Also, by way of Booknotes, Wesley Clark weighs in on Dubya’s failure.
After John Kerry’s two dominant wins in the South, General Clark calls it quits. Ho-hum. Good news for Edwards in the short term, I guess, although it now appears that Dean will stay in the race after Wisconsin, despite the loss of AFCSME and the wavering of Harkin. Well, keeping Dems at the front of the news for a few more weeks can’t hurt the larger goal, but Dean’s revived bashing of “Washington insiders” sounds increasingly hollow and desperate to me. They weren’t a problem when “Boss” Gore came a-runnin’ to the Dean camp, now, were they? As for Kerry being the “lesser of two evils,” I just don’t think Howard Dean would improve that equation all that much.
Seven states across the nation up for grabs last night, and five go to John Kerry. On the flip side, Joe Lieberman finally faced the music and bowed out of the race (So much for that “three-way tie” in NH.)
Well, call me an establishment sellout, but I’m close to putting this one in the fridge. I was glad to see Edwards take my and his home big, but I think Clark’s ekeing out of Oklahoma will hurt Carolina’s Finest on the momentum front. (That being said, Edwards is looking like a grand Veep.) And Dean, well, his 0-7 strategy was a gamble anyway, but I personally don’t believe he’s hitting the right notes to make a comeback anymore. Kerry a Republican? That’s just plain goofy. I’m all for running on campaign finance reform, of course, and I agree with Mark Shields that Dean’s made an enormous contribution in that regard…but I think spinning the “outsider” rhetoric just for the sake of it is lame. (Might as well say “Vote for me! I won’t know what the hell I’m doing for the first two years of my administration!”) Besides, it’s hard to run as the outsider who’ll change the insidious culture of Washington once you’ve nestled the likes of Al Gore to your breast. I’ll still put up Gore’s primary performance last cycle as an order of magnitude more shady than anything that’s gone down this time around.
So, if Kerry’s our horse, I’m ready to circle the wagons. He’s already up ten on Bush according to Gallup. And, having just seen California freak-show Darrell Issa on late-night CNN frantically go the “Dukakis Dukakis Dukakis” route, I’d say we have a real chance to win this thing. Between this and the atrocious State of the Union, I’m starting to get the sense we’ve been grossly overestimating Karl Rove’s political savvy. And, if the Big 47 holds up…it means trouble for the GOP that even Rehnquist, Scalia et al can’t solve this time. Bring it on.
So…New Hampshire has spoken, and John Kerry wins by 12 over fellow New Englander Howard Dean, Clark and Edwards tie for a distant third, and Lieberman falls to fifth. The game now shifts to the South and Midwest, including South Carolina.
Well, while it’s a bit off-putting to put this race in the fridge after only two states have spoken, I say it’s now definitely looking to be John Kerry’s year. That is, barring a strong showing by John Edwards on more favorable terrain, who has to win South Carolina convincingly next week to stay alive. As everyone’s known for months, Lieberman is clearly done, despite his ridiculous talk of a three-way tie for third in NH. (So much for the vote-swinging ability of the New Republic.) Wesley Clark may be able to pick up Oklahoma, but momentum counts for a lot, and he was fading fast all last week. So, barring something crazy happening, I’d say the general is also on his way out.
And Dean? Well, obviously he’s still got a large war chest and the frenzy of the Deaniacs to fall back on…but where does he go from here? The pre-NH polls have him dropping to fourth or fifth in every one of the polled February 3rd states, except New Mexico (and even that’s based on pre-Iowa numbers.) It’d be one thing if he had pulled closer to Kerry in New Hampshire, or even to within ten points, but a twelve-point loss is pretty decisive in terms of being a momentum-killer. (Consider in 2000 that Bradley got to within four points (52%-48%) of Gore in NH, something that was also spun by the pundit class as a “still-kicking” comeback after Iowa, and he got hammered in all 15 states the Tuesday next.) As Chris Suellentrop notes, Dean’s only hope may be to go “underground” for awhile, but it’s hard to see how a hail-mary play like that will have generated much mojo once the big states actually vote. It’s remarkable how Dean and Kerry switched places so quickly, but they did…and just as Kerry would be toast had he not won New Hampshire, the same now looks true for the governor of Vermont.
In the midst of the battle for New Hampshire, a glimmer of great news. A new Newsweek poll has Kerry up 3 on Dubya in a head-to-head match-up. And the key stat isn’t Kerry, per se: All four major Dems poll well against the Prez (Clark down 1, Edwards down 3, Dean down 5.) No, what’s cause for cheer here is the breakdown: 47% of voters strongly oppose a second term for Bush (and 52% say they don’t want him back in general.) That’s compared to 37% of voters strongly in the Bush camp. With those kind of strong negatives, much of Dubya’s financial advantage is neutralized — all the money in the world isn’t going to change the minds of people who’ve already decided they hate you. And this means that, state-by-state electoral math notwithstanding, the Dems only have to sway 4% of the electorate between now and November, give or take a percentage point to account for more Florida-type shenanigans by the GOP.
Meanwhile, in NH news, the consistently insufferable Mickey Kaus points the way to Chrisishardcore, a young statistician who’s teased out daily movement from the three-day ARG polls (this is the information the talking heads have when they make their predictions.) At any rate, yesterday’s poll shows a bounce back for Dean, who looks to probably come in second by these numbers. Elsewhere, the Wyeth Wire, a SC political mail-list to which I subscribe, does the same thing for Carolina.
The Dems held one more for the road last night in New Hampshire and, given that a rather bland Kerry didn’t stumble, it’s starting to look dire for Dean, who was subdued and chagrined most of the evening and only now seems to be turning the corner on his Muskie Moment. Edwards did reasonably well despite invoking states’ rights (which never sounds good with a southern accent) to support his convoluted gay marriage position. And I actually liked Clark better than usual, and thought he handled his recent party switch as well as he could.
But, I have to say, I was extraordinarily irritated by the way the whole Dubya Deserter thing played out last night. First Peter Jennings tells Wesley Clark that Michael Moore’s deserter comment was “a reckless charge not supported by the facts” and asks him if it’d have been “a better example of ethical behavior” to contradict him. Clark doesn’t go either way on it, claiming not to know all the facts. (Which is lame — What’s the point of having a General in the running if he’s not going to call out Bush on exactly this question?) Then, once the show’s over, Fox News pulls out Team Bespectacled White Guys (Mort Kondracke and Fred Barnes), who both immediately argue that Clark irreparably damaged his candidacy by not refuting this baseless charge, yadda yadda yadda.
Um, am I missing something? It’s been substantiated quite well that Bush seems to have gone AWOL by the Boston Globe and others, and I’m not talking about the six or seven critical hours on September 11 when he was toodling around above the Heartland. While absence of evidence isn’t necessarily evidence of absence, Dubya seems to have disappeared from the Air National Guard for almost a year between 1972-73, conveniently right before a drug test (an offense for which he was grounded), and, to this day, he has never satisfactorily explained where he was. (In fact, as the Straight Dope notes, later reports in The New Republic (by Ryan Lizza, if I remember correctly) even cast doubt on the half-hearted “some recollection” explanation Dubya gave during the 2000 campaign. (By the way, this all happened several years after Bush scored in the underwhelming 25th percentile on the pilot’s aptitude portion of the entrance exam, thus having to rely on his congressman-daddy’s connections to jump the year-long waiting list for the Air National Guard in the first place.)
Does all of this prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that Dubya pulled a Cold Mountain? Well, no, but it’s definitely enough to suggest that Bush has some serious explaining to do. (And he revoked any “youthful indiscretion” type-defense when he began parading around in flight gear on the USS Lincoln.) So, I mean, c’mon, now, a baseless charge about Bush? At this point it seems more correct to say that the bases were “Bush-less.” Next thing you’ll know Fox News will be screaming at John Kerry for perpetuating the “vicious rumor” of Dubya’s DUI.
At any rate, regarding other matters, I didn’t see Diane Sawyer or Letterman last night so can’t ascertain how Dean damage control went there, but I did catch the Dallas-Laker game on TNT, and during Inside the NBA EJ, Kenny and Charles must have played the Dean Scream about thirty times…in fact Ernie had it connected to his desk button. “Nash kicks to Dirk, Dirk from the corner…YEEEEEAAAAGH! Sacramento’s up big in the third…YEEEEEAAAGH!” And so on, so on. Pretty much the first political content I’ve ever seen on the show, and, yeah, it was funny every time. Poor Dean.
So how do you like them apples? John Kerry comes up big in Iowa (38%), John Edwards places a very viable second (32%)…and the once seemingly-insurmountable Howard Dean falls to a distant third (18%). (For his part, a broken-hearted Gephardt came in fourth (11%) and will drop out tomorrow…so much for Big Union.)
An interesting evening, all in all, and one that’s in effect limited the Democratic race from eight to four:
First off, I think Howard Dean added insult to injury tonight with his cringeworthy (non-)concession speech — that hoarse, high-pitched yelp at the end of his angry roll of states is going to be played-for-laughs by the punditocracy hundreds of times this week (In fact, it took all of two hours for Drudge to post it as his headline…it’s since been removed.) It was a display that could seriously hurt him among undecideds who’ve never really seen the guy before. That being said, the prognosis for the doctor isn’t necessarily terrible, if he can weather the initial post-Iowa dip. For one, the rise of Kerry and Edwards is going to seriously complicate the anti-Dean question: Both Kerry and Clark will now be vying for veterans, as Clark and Edwards fight over who’s the electable southerner. And Dean’s still got the money and the movement, which isn’t going to just wither away because of a bad night in Des Moines. That being said, Dean’s in for a race now, and if that’s the case, I for one am pleased that the candidates pushing him are as of tonight more likely to be John Edwards and John Kerry than they are Wesley Clark, Joe Lieberman, or the now-defunct Dick Gephardt.
John Edwards is a candidate I’ve been looking to see more from this whole cycle, and, if a long primary haul is our party’s fate, I’m very glad he’ll get a chance to strut his stuff on the main stage. He’s got real populist cred and a trial lawyer’s argumentative savvy, and, well, the Southern accent doesn’t hurt. He definitely looked the best tonight in terms of tone and message. And I think that, not unlike our current president, he’s often “misunderestimated.” Go Edwards.
I’ve been relatively agnostic about John Kerry for awhile (in part because he stumped so blatantly for Gore over Bradley last primary cycle), but I’ve liked him more recently since he lost Chris Lehane and started loosening up. Despite the fears of Dukakis-redux, I think Kerry could make a very strong candidate in the general, given his (perhaps too-overtouted of late) military record and debating skills. If he carries this bounce to a Democratic victory, I won’t be overly disappointed.
As for Wesley Clark…well, let’s just say the bloom is off the rose in these parts. Running a Lehane-style campaign isn’t helping him, but the real problem is, well, he’s not a Democrat. He voted for Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Reagan, and Bush, he’s been a member of the party for less than a year, and he’s on tape praising the Dubya administration at a GOP fundraiser. I really don’t think the Democratic Party should be getting behind a fellow who’s said “I’m very glad we’ve got the great team in office, men like Colin Powell, Don Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Paul O’Neill — people I know very well — our President George W. Bush. We need them there, because we’ve got some tough challenges ahead in Europe.” Because, y’know, that particular soundbite would singlehandedly throw the election to Dubya, and we need to make Karl Rove spend at least some of his massive war chest on formulating his own advertisements.
So Clark, Dean, Edwards, and Kerry…the board is set, the pieces are moving.
In a week of minor stumbles (among them caucus-dissing — let’s face it, the Iowa caucuses are dominated by special interests. Ethanol subsidies, anyone? — and gubernatorial honoraria), Howard Dean pulls up another key endorsement in Tom Harkin. At this point, I’ll just go ahead and say that I hope the good Doctor takes both Iowa and New Hampshire and ends all the primary shenanigans sooner rather than later. It’s a safe bet to say that I like Howard Dean better than any of the other eight candidates, but that frankly isn’t saying much, and particularly given how Edwards, Clark, and Kerry have all underperformed.
I’ll be honest – I’m much less enthused by Dean than I was by Bradley last cycle. Dean has yet to make any policy proposals that I flat-out love, and I find him neither as progressive nor as inspiring as I’d like. In fact, more often than not, he kinda leaves me cold…But, of the nine, he’s the witch-king, so to speak. His occasional grouchiness and glibness does concern me, but no more so than any of the other candidates’ personality traits (And let’s drop the “unelectable” stuff…c’mon, this country elected George W. Bush. Anyone‘s electable. Oh, wait a minute, we didn’t.) In sum, Dean’s run a great campaign to this point, he’s got money and moxie to spare, and he clearly strikes a chord with many Democratic souls out there, so here’s hoping the party coalesces around him before we bleed ourselves to death solely to satisfy the big dreams of also-rans and the bruised egos of the DLC.
With Iowa and New Hampshire seemingly for Dean, both the Doctor and his rivals continue to hone in on South Carolina as a make-or-break state. As I said earlier, SC is probably the last, best hope for a Clark, Edwards or Gephardt to establish themselves as the Southern anti-Dean. As for Lieberman and Kerry, barring a fantastic upset in New Hampshire, it seems to be all over for the both of them, as their increasingly scorched earth rhetoric attests.
General Clark digs into Dubya for his brazen boastfulness in Iraq earlier in the year. “You don’t make policy by taunting the enemy. Only someone who hasn’t seen war firsthand would ever say anything as fatuous as ‘bring ‘em on.’” A little late, sure, but he’s still definitely on target. Meanwhile, with Dean up 30 in NH, it’s gotten so bad in Kerryland lately that Slate‘s Mickey Kaus is sponsoring a withdrawal contest. Ouch. For their part, though, the Kerry team seems unperturbed.
While Dean and Clark parry for New York votes, Tom De Lay laments the loss of his GOP convention booze cruise. As of yesterday, “some Republicans in Washington who supported the cruise liner idea were still saying that it would not have taken much money away from the city and that perhaps there are some Republican members of Congress who want to take their families to the convention but do not want them to stay in Manhattan.” I see. So for the GOP, New York City is a great place to wave the bloody shirt, but God forbid they spend a night there.
As Howard Dean announces his college-friendly education plan (which includes $10,000 a year in financial aid and a quadrupling of Americorps), William Saletan — not one of Dean’s biggest fans — wonders how the Doctor will handle the “postwar” phase of the campaign. Meanwhile, Wesley Clark continues developing the “right-on-terror” strategy (originally articulated by Bob “Osama Bin Forgotten” Graham) by accusing the Bushies of dropping the hunt for Al Qaeda’s leader in their rush to get Saddam. The general’s got a point, particularly when you consider the nightmare rhetoric still emanating from Al Qaeda’s corner. It’s too bad the guy’s so way off on flag burning. (Last link via Value Judgment.)
How did it come to this? Once the frontrunner candidate for the Dem establishment, John Kerry is now facing defeat in must-win New Hampshire, and I don’t know if another campaign shake-up is going to do the trick. Even with Shaheen running Kerry’s team, the Granite State is probably Dean’s to lose at this point, and I’d think any move towards scorched-earth negativity on Kerry’s part is only going to redound against him. But, at this point, I’d guess Kerry’s running out of options…so it’s probably gonna get ugly, and soon. But if it’s any consolation to Team Kerry, he’s not the only Dem underperforming to expectation…witness the New Yorker profile of Wesley Clark, the frontrunner that wasn’t (although he does seems to be appealing to SC veterans.) Update: Well, when I said it’d get ugly, this isn’t exactly what I meant…two more officials fly the Kerry coop. Update 2: Fred Kaplan takes issue with the New Yorker piece.
Also in campaign news, General Clark takes a page from Bob Graham and openly faults Dubya for 9/11. Said Clark, “It goes back to what our great president Harry Truman said with the sign on his desk: `The buck stops here.’ And it sure is clear to me that when it comes to our nation’s national security, the buck rests with the commander in chief, right on George W. Bush’s desk.” Well, he has a point…and up to now Dubya has had it relatively easy on this question. Could you imagine the maelstrom of right-wing finger-pointing that would have ensued if 9/11 had happened on Clinton or Gore’s watch?
Bad news for Kamp Kerry…Thanks in no small part to his fiery antiestablishment rhetoric, which always seems to play well in the Granite State, Howard Dean is now up a commanding 23 points in New Hampshire (13 in this poll), and it’s hard to see how Kerry can gain any traction if he can’t hold his backyard. Perhaps Wesley Clark’s Manchester offensive will shake things up a bit, but you have to think that Dean would have to do something really idiotic to lose NH at this point. Meanwhile, as the increasingly combative candidates prep for their fifth debate tonight, several campaigns complain the nine-person debates are a recipe for treading water.
Oh, there’s nothing halfway about the Iowa way to treat you when they treat you which they may not do at all. Wesley Clark and Joe Lieberman plan to skip the Iowa caucus in 2004…I’d say that’s a smart call for Clark (my thoughts on Lieberman are below), given how Iowa treated Bradley and McCain respectively last time around — Bradley came in second after Gore’s debate lie (actually penned by my roommate at the time), while McCain had the sense to stay out in the first place.
As the WP delves into the leadership qualities of Wesley Clark, Rick Perlstein wonders aloud about the opportunities for leadership missed — or avoided — during the General’s war correspondent days. If Clark’s going to emerge from the Democratic primary, he really needs to develop an answer to his Iraq position that doesn’t sound evasive or needlessly complicated. He’s not there yet.
So the Dems debated again last week in Arizona (during Sox-Yankees Game 2, of all times…I caught the first half, tuned out when the goofy “Real Americans Just Like You” portion started, and refrained from playing the drinking game), and this time around General Clark was the new focus of attack. I must say, I was very unimpressed with Clark’s handling of the Iraq question — When asked about his equivocations on the subject, he equivocated. Unless the General raises his game and soon, I’d think that the smart establishment money might look anew at Kerry, Edwards, or someone else. Speaking of which, also in Dem election news, Kerry and Gephardt conspire to kick Dean off the island, as manifested by Kerry’s new Gephardt-like Mediscare gambit. I definitely still could vote for Kerry, but allying with Gephardt in any capacity and playing the Mediscare game are two strikes in my book.
John McCain handicaps the Democratic field, and balks at comparisons to Dean. I dunno…a real “straight-talker” would call out Dubya a little more, I should think, particularly given the President’s recent lapses in foreign affairs. Elsewhere, Wesley Clark gets in hot water for giving paid campaign speeches. What with yesterday’s resignation, this is another indicator of a troubling lack of oversight over in Camp Clark. While he’s still getting good press for the moment, I’d think that eventually these types of avoidable gaffes are going to add up to trouble for the General.
The Times checks in with “Generation Dean.” Hey, I’ll take it over the “Hipublicans.” Also in Dem election news, General Clark loses his campaign manager in a power struggle between the DC ops and the Internet team. A bit early for Clark’s campaign to experience this type of shake-up, isn’t it?
A former Kosovo War reporter evaluates Wesley Clark’s tenure as NATO commander, and finds that much of the recent criticism leveled the General’s way may be somewhat unfair. In related news, the Village Voice offers a less-sympathetic view of Clark regarding the recent admissions in his new book, Winning Modern Wars.
General Wesley Clark stumps for faster-than-light travel in New Hampshire. “I still believe in e=mc², but I can’t believe that in all of human history, we’ll never ever be able to go beyond the speed of light to reach where we want to go. I happen to believe that mankind can do it…It’s my only faith-based initiative.” Well, I guess he’s up on Dubya, who’s still trying to work out evolution. At the same rally, Clark introduced Professor John Frink as his potential National Science Advisor. “Suppose we extend the square beyond the two dimensions of our universe… along the hypothetical Z axis, there…”
Is General Clark eating into Dean’s numbers? Perhaps, but I don’t think it matters all that much at the moment. As stories on the frosty relationship between the two suggest, Dean is already a top-tier candidate – it’s the gaggle of media-hungry candidates below him that should most worry about the Clark buzz and ensuing press vacuum. For another, Dean’s the only Dem candidate right now other than Clark who seems to attract true believers (as any number of weblogs will attest.) Sure, the Doctor may be losing waverers – but I’d bet he has the largest number of core supporters going, and they seem more committed and battle-tested than Clark’s new volunteer army.
In the newest set of 2004 preview polls, Dubya is tied with a number of Dems, including Clark, Kerry, and Lieberman (Dean and Gephardt run slightly behind.) For his part, Bush say he’s not listening to the primary furor, yet that’s not stopping the White House from sweating today’s UN address, or GOP flaks from decrying the Dems’ “political hate speech.” Hate speech? Heh. Perhaps Gillespie should be referred to a little matter called impeachment…it was in the papers a few years back. Also in Election 2004 news, be sure to check out Value Judgment, a site I found in the referrer logs a few weeks ago. It’s very pro-Dean, but nevertheless does a superlative job in keeping up with Dem primary news.
It’s unofficial – Wesley Clark will become the tenth contender in the crowded Democratic field and – barring an early screw-up of monumental proportions – has to be considered one of the frontrunners immediately. It’ll be interesting to see how he shakes up the race – I expect he’ll take some of Dean’s mavericks, Kerry’s military men, and, perhaps most importantly, Edwards’ Southerners. (Perhaps sensing the threat, Gore alumnus Chris Lehane left the Kerry team.) In other election news, Edwards officially announces his candidacy (Poor luck that Clark’ll steal his media today), while the NY Times‘s David Brooks examines why GOP ops love Dean. (I, for one, don’t really buy it – Dean has to be more worrisome than a milquetoast like Graham.)
In the last week before the General makes his anticipated move, Dean courts Clark for a final time. Nevertheless, it looks like Clark is a go (provided he finds time away from his advocacy of military bicycles.) In other Dem election news, Dean (who’s now pulling ahead in Iowa and everywhere else) got in a spot of trouble the other night in the third debate. Regarding the furor over Israel, I thought Dean successfully parried Lieberman’s attack by invoking Clinton, and made Joe (and Gephardt’s flunkies) seem as desperately aggressive as they in fact are. Yet, while he generally avoided the Mean Dr. Dean schtick this time, his comments on race — “I’m the only white politician that ever talks about race in front of white audiences.” — smacks of Gore-like hyperbole. Overblown, self-aggrandizing, and flagrantly ridiculous remarks like those cost Mediscare Al dearly in 2000…I would hope Dean knows better to repeat that mistake. At any rate, I thought Kerry and Kucinich also did quite well, although these two — especially the latter – might soon have to face the music when the General unleashes his cyclists on Sept. 19.
In a decision that may prove costly for Congressional Dems in 2004, John Edwards cancels his Senate bid to focus full-time on running for President. (I’d say Erskine Bowles is a strong back-up candidate – still, Dems are rarely an easy sell in North Carolina). I presume Edwards is making this move to gather some momentum and try to stake out the “Son of the South” slot in the top tier before Clark shows up to steal his mojo. As I’ve noted before, Edwards plays the populism angle very well, but he’s going to have a seriously uphill battle should the General join the fight. And at the moment he’s got ground to make up in my mind for his defense of the Patriot Act.
With Dubya looking more vulnerable than ever, the calls for Clark’s candidacy continue among the media. “If Clark sustains momentum, he drives out candidates quicker than Iowa or New Hampshire will…He has the ability to make it a three-man race: Dean, Clark and Gephardt, who isn’t going anywhere with all those union endorsements.” Meanwhile, the rest of the Dem field release their ads and ponder when to unleash on Dean.
As the Democratic field aim to eat into Dean’s lead at the New Mexico debate tonight, Gen. Clark draws closer to throwing his own hat in the ring. As I said earlier, I’d think having a (not-so-)dark horse like Clark siphon off media coverage and funding would mean campaign death for many of the second-tier candidates…and, at this point, winnowing the field is in most everyone’s interest.
With Howard Dean’s place currently secure as a top-tier candidate (despite perhaps needing to burnish his foreign policy creds for the stretch run), a number of other Dems try to take advantage of the Labor Day rush to gain some traction before Wesley Clark becomes the soup du jour. As such, a Military Kerry officially announces in SC, an experienced Gephardt unveils new ads, and a newly compassionate Lieberman offers a “MediKids” plan. Well, the jury may still be out in Iowa, but I think I can safely say there’s very little chance of my voting Gephart and absolutely none of my voting Lieberman. Kerry still has a shot, though, depending how the campaign goes over the fall.
Team Dubya unveil their 4-part 2004 electoral strategy: 1) visit NYC, 2) wallow in 9-11 nostalgia, 3) invoke the never-ending war, and then 4) spend money like it’s going out of style. I dunno…I could see a WTC memorial campaign seriously backfiring, particularly if the economy is in the toilet. And a late start by Dubya should give the Democratic candidate some time to get his (or her) house in order after what’s sure to be an ugly primary. Speaking of which, on the other side of the aisle, the nine Dems will be holding their first debate next week on ABC…It begins.
Second verse, same as the first. Time profiles the “new Gore”, the man whom, if the polls are right, seems preordained to be the Democratic candidate in 2004. But, lurking in the shadows is another possible Dem contender, General Wesley Clark. Hmm…curious. I suspect Clark and Kerry would split the war vote in the primary, sending Gore through again anyway. But I’m curious to hear more from him.