[Marxism] Kerry's quandary

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu May 27 07:33:24 MDT 2004

LA Times
May 27, 2004
By Ronald Brownstein, Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — Sen. John F. Kerry faces a stark new challenge in the 
campaign skirmishing over Iraq: As President Bush has moved toward his 
position, the Democratic Party is moving away from it.

 From one side, Kerry confronts calls from growing numbers of Democrats 
to establish a deadline for withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq. That idea 
will receive a major boost today when Win Without War, a coalition of 42 
liberal groups, launches a campaign urging the U.S. to set a date for 
ending its military presence in Iraq.

 From the other direction, Bush has come much closer to Kerry's view 
that the U.S. should rely more on the United Nations to oversee the 
transition from occupation to a sovereign Iraqi government, thus 
blurring the contrast between the two men.

In the long run, these shifts in Democratic attitudes and Bush's 
strategy may pressure Kerry to break more sharply from the 
administration on Iraq, a step he has firmly resisted.



Democrats Wonder if Kerry Should Stay on Careful Path

NY Times, May 27, 2004

WASHINGTON, May 26 — President Bush's political difficulties have 
prompted a debate among Democrats and aides to Senator John Kerry over 
how cautious his campaign should be on a variety of issues, from 
choosing a vice president to differentiating himself from Mr. Bush to 
responding to the turmoil in Iraq.

Some party officials say that with three new polls showing President 
Bush more embattled than he has ever been, Mr. Kerry's wisest course 
would be to take few chances and turn the election into a referendum on 
a struggling president. "People have won a lot of campaigns by just 
saying, `It is time for a change,' " said Mark Penn, a Democratic pollster.

But other Democrats warn that such a strategy entails risks of its own, 
banking on the proposition that Americans would be willing to fire an 
incumbent during war time and replace him with someone they know little 
about. "I don't think anybody in their right mind is going to run for 
president on a strategy of `people hate the other guy and that's enough 
for our guy to win,' " said Douglas Sosnik, the White House political 
director for President Bill Clinton.

Until now, Mr. Kerry has more often than not displayed a caution that is 
very much in keeping with his style as a candidate over the past 20 
years, particularly when he is not feeling threatened. He reacted mildly 
to Mr. Bush's speech on Iraq on Monday. And on Wednesday, Mr. Kerry 
backed away from a heavily criticized proposal to put off accepting his 
party's nomination at the Democratic convention, a maneuver to delay the 
imposition of general election spending caps.

full: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/27/politics/campaign/27DEMS.html


Marquis de Bush?

NY Times op-ed, May 27, 2004

An outraged president called yesterday for the immediate resignations of 
Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, George Tenet, Condoleezza Rice, Douglas 
Feith and Stephen Cambone.

Unfortunately, it wasn't the president in the White House. It was the 
shadow president, the one who won the popular vote.

Thundering at New York University about the man the Supreme Court chose 
over him, Al Gore said, "He has created more anger and righteous 
indignation against us as Americans than any leader of our country in 
the 228 years of our existence as a nation." Holy Nixon!

The former vice president accused the commander in chief of being 
responsible for "an American gulag" in Abu Ghraib, as depraved as 
anything devised by the Marquis de Sade. It was hard to tell whether 
President Bush would be more offended by the sadomasochism or by the 
fact that the marquis was French.

Mr. Gore blasted the administration's "twisted values" and dominatrix 
attitude toward the world: "Dominance is as dominance does."

"George W. Bush promised us a foreign policy with humility," he said, in 
one of the most virulent attacks on a sitting president ever made by 
such a high-ranking former official. "Instead, he has brought us 
humiliation in the eyes of the world." (He did not ask the neocon cabal 
ringleader, Dick Cheney, to step down, perhaps in a spirit of 
second-banana solidarity.)

John Kerry's advisers were surprised and annoyed to hear that Mr. Gore 
hollered so much, he made Howard Dean look like George Pataki. They 
don't want voters to be reminded of the wackadoo wing of the Democratic 

They would like Mr. Gore, who brought bad karma to Mr. Dean with his 
primary endorsement, to zip it and go away. But more and more Democrats 
think it is Mr. Kerry who should zip it and go away.

Mr. Kerry has made a huge $25 million ad buy in recent weeks, believing 
that the better voters know him, the more they'll like him. But many 
Democrats fear he's one of those supercilious/smarmy candidates (like Al 
Gore) for whom the opposite is true: the more you know him, the less you 
want to see him.

They wonder whether Mr. Kerry should just let the campaign be Bush vs. 
Bush. As the president's old running buddy, Lee Atwater, used to say, 
don't get in the way when your rival's busy shooting himself.

Couldn't the Democratic standard-bearer use a William McKinley 
front-porch strategy, talking only to those who bother to show up at his 
front porch? After all, Mr. Kerry and his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, have 
five front porches, stretching from Sun Valley to Nantucket and Georgetown.

Mr. Kerry, once a critic of campaign financing abuses, had toyed with 
the idea of not accepting the nomination at his nominating convention so 
he could spend even more in contributions. While he announced yesterday 
that he had dropped that belittled idea, maybe he just didn't take the 
plan far enough.

Maybe he shouldn't go down from his town house on Beacon Hill to the 
Fleet Center at all. The conventioneers may be more galvanized if they 
focus on vividly vivisecting Mr. Bush, instead of being dulled to 
distraction by Mr. Kerry, waving stiffly in his Oxford-cloth shirt, 
trying to be all things to all people all the prime time.

The Democrats are already excited to see the Republicans acting as 
fractious as they usually act.

The president did look a little rattled during his finger-in-the-dike 
speech at the Army War College on Monday night, as he promised to give 
the Iraqi people the gift of "a humane, well-supervised prison system." 
It was hard to tell if it was the subdued response of the military 
audience, the only group forbidden to criticize the commander in chief, 
or if it's beginning to sink in: this is one mess that no amount of 
power and privilege, or unending terror alerts, can get him out of. (Mr. 
Bush's speech about the Iraqi makeover, as he wore all that makeup, 
couldn't even pre-empt the more convincing makeovers on "The Swan" on Fox.)

Or maybe it was just the dread at knowing that the next morning he had 
to call Jacques Chirac and cry "oncle" on Iraq.

That's enough to give anybody mal de mer.


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