Jewish World Review Oct. 1, 2002 / 25 Tishrei, 5763

Jack Kelly

Jack Kelly
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Gore's calculated risk may well get him the Dems' nomination


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | It appears as if Howard Dean won't be getting his 15 minutes of fame after all. Dean, for the millions of you who have never heard of him, is the governor of Vermont and, until Al Gore's speech in San Francisco on Iraq, the leftward-most of the Democrats "exploring" a run for president in 2004.

In the 1970s, the Democratic Party was divided between a Jackson wing, domestic liberals who, like the late, great senator from Washington State, were nonetheless proud patriots, fierce anticommunists, and ardent supporters of Israel; and a McGovern wing, which was none of the above. The rift contributed mightily to the Nixon landslide in 1972, and the Reagan landslides in 1980 and 1984.

For most of his political career, Gore identified himself with the Jackson wing. He was one of the few Democrats in Congress to vote to take on Saddam Hussein in Gulf War I. As recently as February, he was making hawkish noises about Iraq. But alignment with the atrophied Jackson wing is not a good place to be in Democratic presidential primaries.

Polls indicate about two thirds of Americans think Saddam is a clear and present danger, and that if he does not quickly and completely comply with UN resolutions, military action to remove him is warranted. But most of the remaining third vociferously oppose war with Iraq, and they comprise a majority of those who customarily vote in Democratic primaries, and a larger majority of caucus-goers.

Al Gore's sharp left turn in San Francisco was not made for fear of Dean, whose Andy Warhol moment was destined to end after the Iowa caucuses. It's purpose is to crowd out Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass). Handsome, intelligent, articulate and filthy rich, Kerry is an ideal candidate to carry an antiwar message, because he won the Medal of Honor as a Navy SEAL in Vietnam. No one can question his courage or patriotism.

Gore's speech has for the most part been panned. Here is JWR columnist Michael Kelly: "Gore's speech...was entirely dishonest, cheap, low. It was utterly hollow. It was bereft of policy, of solutions, of contructive ideas...It was breathtakingly hypocritical, a naked political assault delivered in smarmy tones of moral condescension from a man pretending to be superior to mere politics."

But, perhaps for the reasons Kelly cited, it played well with Democratic activists. For them, Bush is the Devil incarnate, and opposition to war with Iraq by far the most important issue. This creates a problem for Democrats. The Democratic Party today is divided less by ideology than between those with safe seats and those who must run in competitive districts. Democrats who must face the voters this fall in races they could lose want to put Iraq behind them so they can refocus attention on domestic issues which work better for them. They want a quick vote on (and for) a resolution authorizing the president to use force, preferably after watering it down.

But the activists won't let this happen. And in Gore they now have a spokesman who can keep Democratic opposition to action against Saddam on the front pages, warming the cockles of Karl Rove's heart. Expect Gore to make more antiwar speeches in the coming weeks, and to escalate his rhetoric (if that's possible).

Democratic pros were unenthusiastic about another Gore presidential run before his San Francisco speech, and are more so now. He's going to cost Democrats seats this fall. But he's put Kerry on the spot. Kerry will have to vote on the Iraq resolution. If he votes for it, he's toast in the primaries. If he fights against it, he'll increase the angst of Democrats in the Midwest and South. And Gore will leave no room for Kerry on his left.

Gore's speech also was the proximate cause of Tiny Tom Daschle's outburst on the Senate floor. As Senate Majority Leader, Daschle has to vote for the resolution to authorize force, or he'll be Senate Minority Leader in January. But the South Dakotan has presidential ambitions himself, and felt compelled to reassure the Democratic Left that he hates Bush, too.

Like George McGovern, Al Gore has positioned himself well to win the hearts and minds of the antiwar Left. But like George McGovern...

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09/25/02: Schroeder may find the fruits of victory sour
09/25/02: Making Saddam change his spots
09/19/02: Bush's resolve already has paid dividends
09/17/02: Courageous Iranians
09/13/02: If you never served in the military, you have no right to an opinion
09/10/02: Why the 'air marshals' will fail
09/05/02: Resurrecting the "Happy Darky"
08/31/02: Are Bush's inactions against Iraq calculated?
08/23/02: Dems can't take the minority vote for granted any longer
08/20/02: No proof of Saddam's wrongdoing? Yeah, right
08/15/02: Mineta's war on what?
08/13/02: When Gore said he wanted to be his 'own man,' what was he thinking!?
08/08/02: Picking a tree for Cheney's hanging
08/06/02: Fears about the Department of Homeland Security are misplaced
08/01/02: The greatest strategic deception since Eisenhower convinced Hitler the Allies were going to land at the Pas de Calais?
07/30/02: State Dept.'s anti-American actions
07/26/02: Journalists are making sure Americans can't differentiate between the stock market and the economy
07/23/02: Iran's is on the verge of a social and political explosion. So why is media ignoring it?
07/17/02: FBI isn't supposed to stand for Foolish, Blind and Incompetent
07/12/02: The ICC tramples on rights Americans take for granted
07/09/02: Was LA International Airport shooting, in fact, good news?
07/02/02: What the "intelligence community" can learn from Alexander the Great
06/28/02: Muslim link in Oklahoma City bombing revisited
06/25/02: A good environmental scare needs two ingredients - an impending catastrophe, and someone to blame for it
06/21/02: Stirring the security pot
06/18/02: Why the military is so messed up
06/14/02: Vast majority $68.7 billion proposed for weapons will be spent on systems of little use in the war on terror
06/12/02: Bush saw them and raised them, and he's holding the aces
06/10/02: Some heads need to roll
06/04/02: A new draft for the 'war on terror'?
05/31/02: So the FBI has finally caught up to our priorities?
05/29/02: Taking on common sense
05/23/02: Political terrorists
05/21/02: There is a great deal to fret about, but I've never been more optimistic
05/15/02: If there is a way for America to lose the war, Gen. Tommy Franks can find it
05/13/02: Impartial justice against Americans by the UN?
05/07/02: Want to win the 'war on terror'? Reinstate the draft
05/03/02: An expanded NATO is needed as a counterweight to the UN and the EU
04/29/02: Islamic 'smarts'
04/26/02: Did Bush play his Aces with Abdullah wisely?
04/23/02: Why peace in the Mideast is closer than ever
04/19/02: What the Arabs of Gaza and the West Bank gained from the "peace accords"
04/17/02: Logical Muslim allies
04/10/02: How to guarantee an infinite Mideast war
04/08/02: Saddam's American friends
04/05/02: Arab winners and sinners
04/01/02: Why is the commander of U.S. Central Command not coming clean to the American people?
03/31/02: Dubya under attack by conservatives
03/26/02: Saddam watch coming to an end?
03/21/02: Get the Jews!
03/19/02: It's time pols and gov bureaucrats be held to the same standard of accountability we insist for corporate execs
03/15/02: Khaki Throat
03/12/02: Making foreign cheaters pay
03/08/02: Timidity and indecision by senior American commanders
03/04/02: Why 9-11? Ex-CIA officials come clean
02/25/02: Don't rule out a quick victory --- even if prez says otherwise
02/21/02: Saving our military from itself
02/19/02: Front Page fiction
02/15/02: Our European allies are like the fat kid who wants to play quarterback
02/13/02: Is the Army in danger of becoming "irrelevant"?
02/11/02: So, I "propagate hatred"
02/06/02: Bush whacking the media
02/04/02: Why serious folks disregard the European Union --- and why Bush must, too
01/30/02: Give economy pneumonia in order to protect it from a cold
01/28/02: Media is its own worst enemy
01/25/02: Journalists making road to peace a bumpy ride, or: A case study in stupidity
01/23/02: Toward a stronger defense at a lower cost
01/21/02: How Bush could be Generations X and Y's Kennedy ... and guarantee a GOP victory in the midterm elections

© 2002, Jack Kelly