Sunday, December 14, 2003

Winners and Losers

Just who benefits and who loses from the capture of Saddam is not all that apparent. Well, except for the benefit to the Iraqi people, that is.

The immediate CW was that this would be a boost for Bush. I think that is probably correct in the short term, however the long term effect (ie. November 2004) really depends on what happens now. Does the insurgency in Iraq have legs? Will BushCo misread the situation and pull out sooner than is reasonable? Will Saddam detail his past dealings with Republican administrations and implicate Donald Rumsfeld? Will he divulge weapons of mass destruction?

All of these questions, and others, will have a major impact on the P2004 race. However, as of now they are too speculative. Perhaps a look at the effect all this will have on the Democratic primaries might be a bit more pertinent.

The big loser in the Dem field, one would have to assume, is Howie Dean. He has based his campaign on his opposition to the war with Iraq and one of the pillars of that support had been our failure to find Saddam. Dean also is hurt insofar as his opponents are helped by the news. John Kerry can now breathe a little easier as can Dick Gephardt. Wes Clark, though he opposed the war, chose not to base his campaign on his opposition and thus should not be hurt by today's events.

The big question, to me, is will the capture of Saddam Hussein motivate moderate to conservative Dems to get out to the polls on primary day? Many Dems actually did support the war and some of them were uncomfortable with Dean and his anti-war followers, but may have stayed at home as Dean's coronation seemed complete. But will the capture motivate them to get out and try to stop Dean, whether for political or personal reasons? Will the capture also quicken the pace at which Dems coalesce around the anti-Dean?

But to be sure, this is a good day for the Iraqi people and BushCo and potentially a bad day for Ho Ho Dean.


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