[Marxism] Kerry Finds Himself in Enviable Position (WSJ)

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Thu Mar 4 08:19:21 MST 2004

(Elections are an important way to obtain public involvement
with and support for government policies. US elections have
seen lower and lower turnout in recent years, which causes
worry among the powers that be. The California recall and
the use of Arnold Schwarzenegger to regenerate interest 
has proven effective, as Arnold got the California voters
this week to endorse major new ballot propositions which
are supposed to solve the state's budget crisis via sales
of new bonds. This will only shift the burden on to future
taxpayers, legislatures and governors, but no matter as it
helps get people apparently behind the latest budget-cutting 

(We can see from the article below, in which Cuba plays a
small role, how volatile the electoral situation in the US
really is. With little in the way of programmatic difference
between the candidates, small factors and issues can take on
a surprisingly larger role than they might appear at first. 

(It's thus possible that Cuba policy could become an issue in
the US presidential elections. Certainly the exile rightists
will do everything they can to try to pressure candidates of
both parties to hew to the blockade line. Perhaps some of 
those businesses who want to make money trading with Cuba
will place countervailing pressure on the candidates, too?

(Who would have thought that the kidnapping of Elian Gonzalez
by rightist exiles in Miami could have blossomed forth into
the biggest defeat for Cuban exiles in four decades? This 
isn't to suggest that a friendly policy toward Cuba might be
projected by Kerry. That would be too much, but it would be
foolish to preclude in advance some discussion over US Cuba
policy in this election. 

(We need to keep in mind that while rightist exiles continue
to dominate official politics on Cuba, it's long been well-
known that there's far from a majority support to their most
extreme anti-Cuba policies among Cubans in Florida, not to
speak of other people in Florida who have plenty of reasons
to object to the privileged role these exiled rightists play
in the politics of the state. 

(Already the US role in the Haitian coup is being discussed
in the halls of Congress where Representatives have raised
questions about the US role in training and arming those
who helped orchestrate Aristede's overthrow. With a medical
and humanitarian crisis unfolding, consider the difference
between Washington's support for armed terrorists who over-
threw the democratically-elected Aristede government, and
Cuba's provision of doctors, literacy teachers and others.
Doctors or soldiers? Who is helping, who is hurting in Haiti?

(Listen as well to Francisco Aruca's interview with the US
attorney for Aristede and the Haitian government, Ira Kurzban:

(So we can look forward to an incredibly filthy campaign in
the US presidential election.

("Republicans moved swiftly Wednesday to try to tarnish the
glow of Mr. Kerry's ascension. While unveiling $4.5 million
of ads extolling Mr. Bush's "steady leadership," the
Bush-Cheney campaign attacked Mr. Kerry for having
"flip-flopped" on issues involving Cuba and Israel as the
Democratic candidate visited Florida. The campaign plans
follow-on attacks on subjects ranging from the Iraq war to
gay marriage."

March 4, 2004 
Kerry Finds Himself
In Enviable Position

Democrat Begins Big Race With Party Unity,
A Positive Image and Lead Over Bush in Polls

WASHINGTON -- It's the biggest man-bites-dog story of the
2004 campaign: This time, the Democratic Party couldn't
have handled the selection of its presidential candidate
any better.

After vanquishing John Edwards to secure his party's
nomination, John Kerry woke up Wednesday in stronger
political condition at this stage of the campaign than any
Democratic challenger of the past two decades. His
surprising array of assets includes unity within a normally
fractious party, a positive introduction to the American
public and a narrow national lead over President Bush.

"I don't think there's ever been anyone healthier," says
Democratic pollster Paul Maslin, who advised Howard Dean's
campaign. Adds nonpartisan opinion analyst Karlyn Bowman:
"It is rare that a primary campaign strengthens the
nominee. This campaign has clearly done that."

That doesn't mean Mr. Kerry will avoid big bumps in the
political road during the eight months until the November
election. His national image, though largely favorable,
isn't well-defined. His stump style -- sometimes rambling
and uninspired -- can turn off listeners. And a Bush-Cheney
team with $100 million to spend after weeks on the campaign
sidelines already is trying to paint the onetime Vietnam
War hero as a timid Washington politician who trims his
sails in response to shifts in public opinion.

"People don't have any solid information about who he is,"
observes Bush strategist Matthew Dowd. And 19 years of
Senate votes make for "a target-rich environment," adds
Republican consultant Ken Khachigian, who directed the
research that President Reagan's campaign used to wound
Democratic challenger Walter Mondale in 1984.

Still, it already is clear that the Massachusetts senator
begins running the general-election marathon with less
baggage than Mr. Mondale set out with in 1984. The former
vice president was battered as an old-style, interest-group
Democrat that year by primary rival Gary Hart, and later
lost to Mr. Reagan in a landslide.

Four years later, Michael Dukakis was forced to struggle
with a persistent challenge from rival Jesse Jackson
throughout the spring and early summer. In 1992, Bill
Clinton emerged as nominee-in-waiting wounded by the
Gennifer Flowers scandal, as well as attacks on his

All three of those men trailed their Republican
general-election opponents in early-March polls. Mr. Kerry,
by contrast, has pulled ahead of Mr. Bush in several
national surveys on the strength of solid support from the
Democratic rank-and-file.

In March 1992, for example, Mr. Clinton trailed President
George H.W. Bush in large part because he was losing
roughly one-fourth of Democratic voters. In the most recent
Gallup Poll, which showed Mr. Kerry leading the current
President Bush, 51%-46%, he was losing just 7% of his
party's voters.

"You probably have to go back more than 50 years to find a
nominating process less divisive," says Geoff Garin,
pollster for retired Gen. Wesley Clark's primary campaign.
"There is no meaningful group of disaffected Democrats
coming out of this process."

That is largely a result of intense animosity toward Mr.
Bush among Democratic regulars. In that polarized
environment, primary voters showed no hesitation in
abandoning earlier allegiances and shifting to Mr. Kerry
once he emerged as the front-runner. They also showed
little appetite for intraparty squabbling, which deterred
rival candidates from launching damaging attacks.

"Sen. Kerry has fought back in this campaign, and he's won
because his heart is good," Mr. Edwards said in quitting
the race1 Wednesday in the same gracious fashion that other
fallen contenders have displayed. Fueling such disciplined
performances, aside from ire toward Mr. Bush, is the
party's hunger to regain a share of power in a nation's
capital now dominated by Republicans.

"I've never seen Democrats so energized," boasts Democratic
National Chairman Terry McAuliffe.

Mr. McAuliffe can claim part of the credit for designing a
front-loaded primary calendar that, as he intended, rapidly
produced a general-election candidate. But party leaders
also may have benefited from sheer good fortune. Only two
months ago, that calendar seemed likely to elevate feisty
former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who inspired liberal
voters but alienated some party leaders.

Now, after his own political collapse, Mr. Dean is pledging
to help Mr. Kerry stave off defections to third-party
candidates such as Ralph Nader. By contrast, Mr. Bush faces
rising complaints from his conservative base over the $500
billion annual budget deficit, a major expansion of
Medicare and his proposal for easing immigration laws. Last
week, the president used the White House as a backdrop for
courting the Republican right by declaring his support for
a constitutional amendment barring gay marriage.

"Instead of moving to the middle, where elections are won,
he's moving to the right," says Steve McMahon, Mr. Dean's
media consultant.

One of Mr. Kerry's challenges between now and the
Democratic National Convention in July is remaining in the
headlines while also preserving the party unity that has
lifted him so far. Some campaign advisers want him to name
a running mate within weeks to spark attention and help
raise money to combat Mr. Bush's financial edge. Moving to
begin the process quickly, the campaign announced Wednesday
that Jim Johnson -- a Democratic Party veteran and former
chairman of mortgage giant Fannie Mae -- would head the
vice-presidential search.

Others argue that an early choice would only drain
enthusiasm from top Democratic figures not chosen. In a
similar vein, Mr. Kerry could spark a rift with former
President Clinton if he moves to replace Mr. McAuliffe, a
Clinton ally, as national chairman.

Republicans moved swiftly Wednesday to try to tarnish the
glow of Mr. Kerry's ascension. While unveiling $4.5 million
of ads extolling Mr. Bush's "steady leadership," the
Bush-Cheney campaign attacked Mr. Kerry for having
"flip-flopped" on issues involving Cuba and Israel as the
Democratic candidate visited Florida. The campaign plans
follow-on attacks on subjects ranging from the Iraq war to
gay marriage.

Yet Democratic strategists are looking to November with far
more confidence than they felt just three months ago, when
the capture of Saddam Hussein, passage of the Medicare
drug-benefit law and resurgent economic growth appeared to
have put Mr. Bush in a commanding position. That newfound
confidence is partly because of Mr. Kerry's triumphant
primary season.

It also is persistently weak jobs market that fuels Mr.
Kerry's economic message and offsets Republican attacks on
other issues. Democrats have grown especially optimistic
about making gains in pivotal Midwest battlegrounds."I'm
sitting here in Chicago," says Mr. Edwards's Illinois media
consultant, David Axelrod, "and I see nothing but
opportunity in every direction."

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