Wednesday, February 11, 2004

And then there were three ...Well, John Edwards and, it appears, Wesley Clark are both dropping out from the Democratic Primary race. Clark, well, no one will really miss the general too much, I think. But Edwards, I guessing, is hoping Kerry - if nominated - will select him as his vice presidential running mate. It became clear that Edwards was not going to gain the 'big mo' that Kerry clearly now has claimed as his own.

Now Dean, on the other hand, is hanging in (at least until Wisconsin, next week?) and will probably go down in flames - appropriate given the fiery rhetoric he brought to his campaign, and the meteroric rise to frontrunner status early in the primary process. It will be kind of sad to see him go but I doubt seriously that even a win in Wisconsin will resuscitate his deflating campaign momentum. I salute Dr. Dean, however, for kicking the Democratic Party in its collective ass and getting some issues defined in the process. Were it not for Dean, I'm not sure the rest of the diminishing field would have even had a platform - or a plank, for that matter.

But I'm unsettled by a Kerry vs. Bush battle. I just feel that Bush, by virtue of his incumbent status and the fact that the nation is still very much in the throes of 9-11 fervor, can overwhelm Kerry if the stoic-faced senator can't drive home clear and decisive issue-oriented arguments for displacing Bush in the Oval Office. And doens't Kerry kind of look like Lurch, the obedient, unemotional butler in "The Addams Family?"

Never underestimate the effect of sex appeal and homespun image (even if adapted only for pretense). Bush will undoubtedly attack Kerry on his liberal, pacifist-leaning stand in the late '60s when he testified during a congressional hearing that American troops were commiting atrocities in Vietnam, and that the nation's actions in that southeast Asian nation were morally untenable. Kerry will have to convince a lot of Americans that he's not going to turn our Iraqi venture into imperialism over to the U.N. or NATO allies - those two organizations are NOT in good stead with most Americans and for Kerry to suggest that he's pull U.S. troops out of Iraq and replace them with an international force will only serve to disaffect millions of voters. And if he tries to ride the liberal, far left notion of apeasement with terrorists he most certainly will be trounced by Bush.

No, Kerry must claim his leadership will be notable for its hard-nosed opposition to terrorists and their sponsor nations - it's the only message Americans (at least those who vote) want to hear. How he will go about ensuring America's safety within its borders and American troops' safety in far regions of the world will be a pivotal issue for the electorate. If he comes off sounding like an anti-war, liberal pacifist - forget it. Bush has staked out a strong political 'bloc' with his John Wayne-like, shoot-from-the-hip brand of leadership, militarily speaking.

Of course, the president is vulnerable on issues like jobs, the economic instability that still hangs in the air, and his ineptitude when it comes to managing international relations. Many jobless folks are angry with Bush (and his daddy) for signing off on NAFTA (unfortunately, Kerry, I believe, also printed his imprimtur on the borderless trade bill that has cost Americans millions of jobs.) Both men will to craft strong defenses for that seeming disastrous policy decision (originally introduced by Bush 41). I just feel that Kerry's fate against Bush will depend, in great extent, on his ability to make Bush look like a big business puppet and a reckless militarist, too quick to draw the gun and too slow to see the forest for the trees.

And life goes on.


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