Sunday, April 20, 2003

Democratic Targets
Kos continues his strategizing for 2004 for the Dems. At the bottom of this post, he makes an interesting point, that the Democrats should "target the Libertarians -- with pro-gun, pro-privacy, and anti-PATRIOT act policies (Dean and Clark both score big with this). I fear the far left is lost, it's not just worth the effort to lose the center to pick up the left's 2 percent." While I concur about the second half of his point (and how I wish other Dems were smart enough to understand political math), I am not as convinced that Dean or Clark actually score for a couple of reasons, each in their turn.
First, the 2004 race will feature foreign policy as a major theme and as Governor of one of the smallest states, Dean does not carry any foreign policy heft. Sure, his anti-war schtick has attracted some followers, but even that support seems to be waning as his somewhat more hawkish statements of late have left the doves with some doubt about his true intentions. Plus, as I have noted before, I think the pro-gun people are fairly pro-war, and even though some Libertarians have been reluctant about the use of force in Iraq, they are also not the sort of adamant pro-gun voters that NRA members are.
Now, I am sure some people will counter that Bill Clinton also lacked foreign policy experience, yet was elected president. However, 1992 was a much different time. The parallels are there- stagnant economy, Gulf War victory- but the events of September 11 made foreign policy and security an issue that will not take a backseat to economic doldrums. Also, as much as I admire President Clinton his foreign policy as a nightmare. It lacked any coherent vision; it failed to address the threat of terrorism; it sat idle for too long as genocide occured in both Rwanda and Kosovo; etc. I think Americans will think twice about electing someone like Dean who has no foreign policy experience.
That brings us to the former General. I think that Clark is such a tabula rasa that many people who find him appealing are projecting their own views of what he is onto the General. I do not think we know enough about him to judge his fitness for the presidency, however I will note that my gut feeling is the American public will be skeptical about a lifelong military man as president. Though Clark is a dynamic individual, he does not have the stature of an Eisenhower, or even a Powell. I am also not convinced that the American public is willing to overlook his lack of experience with domestic issues, just as they will be unwilling to overlook Dean's lack of foreign policy expertise.
The ideal candidate will have a working knowledge and experience in both domestic and foreign affairs and will be a moderate. I think the choice is really limited to Lieberman, Kerry, Gephardt and Graham.


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