Home > Political Ranting > News Bits – January 18, 2004

News Bits – January 18, 2004

January 18th, 2004

My own choice among the Democratic candidates has become Wesley Clark. For a beginning of an idea, you might take a look at the biographical short “American Son,” similar in ways to Clinton’s “The Man from Hope” film made during his own campaign.

Clark appealed to me from the beginning, with his focus on people (“Republicans like weapons systems; Democrats like the soldiers”), his willingness to stand and fight when the media gave him crap, and the fact that he so clearly saw through Bush and has not been shy to speak about it. His stance on the issues is laudable, especially his willingness to reform the tax system–cutting taxes for the middle and lower classes, and adding a 5% increase on millionaires. He is serious about education, is critical of the Patriot Act, and is on the right side of health care, labor, gun control, the environment and many other issues.

Furthermore, his personal abilities and accomplishments are impressive; his intelligence and drive are extraordinary, his willingness to serve and sacrifice admirable, his career remarkable. And think of this highly honorable, incredibly intelligent four-star general going up against AWOL draft-dodger Bush… it almost makes one giddy to think.

Another feather in his cap from my point of view is his endorsement by Michael Moore, who has been watching Clark carefully and whose judgment a lot of Americans trust.

You will not see much about Clark in Iowa, where he pulled out (his late entry into the race meant he missed too much time in that state), but he is waiting to make a surprise showing–he is now second in New Hampshire, 23% to Dean’s 32% and rising–he has pulled far ahead of Kerry and stands to challenge Dean on his home turf in New England. We will definitely be hearing more about Clark. Time Magazine has called Clark “Dean 2.0,” and for good reason–he’s better, stronger, faster, the six-million-dollar candidate, so to speak. As much as Dean seems like a strong candidate, Clark seems stronger–and less assailable in many ways. But Clark’s message, though public, has not been clearly or loudly heard yet. We’ll see how it goes.

It is not surprising that the Bush White House pulled the plug on Katherine Harris’ hopes to become the next Senator from Florida–clearly, in this presidential election year, the last thing that Bush wants is for people to be reminded of how Bush stole the last election by spotlighting the woman responsible for stealing it for him, seriously abusing her power to do so.

The lame excuse for her not running? She has too much important work in the House of Representatives. Riiiiiight.

Bush, in the meantime, is not having a much of a picnic in public opinion. His artificial boost from the capture of Saddam Hussein has evaporated, he is back down to around 50%, and shows as two points behind an unspecified Democratic candidate, according to a new CBS/NYT poll.

This should not come as too much of a surprise considering that the capture of Hussein has not led to much at all–though I am still convinced that Bush is holding back Hussein until a time when he can take full political advantage of him, trotting him out on the stage to earn Bush extra points and take attention away from the fact that our soldiers are getting killed as much now as they were before Hussein got nabbed.

Additionally, Bush now faces the rather predictable issue of free elections and sovereignty in Iraq: 60% of the country is Shi’ite Muslim, and their religious leader is now insisting that free democratic elections be held. Bush is pushing for a caucus system, but it will not be easy to placate the Shi’ites, who can certainly make a lot of trouble. If free elections are held, then you can expect things to go in a way America most definitely does not want to see.

Some of that fundamentalism may already be showing in Iraq. Under Saddam Hussein, there was at least a secular state, and women had rights and legal protections not commonly found in the Arab world. But the governing council–backed by the Bush administration–has voted to bring back the Sharia, traditional Islamic law, which would deal a serious blow to those rights and legal protections that Iraqi women have had for the past four decades.

Bush’s representative in Iraq, administrator Paul Bremer, has to approve such decisions; it is suspected that he will reject it–but if even the relatively moderate governing council will try to do this now, what will happen after America leaves?

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  1. January 20th, 2004 at 06:40 | #1

    It’s interesting how the pundits characterize Bush as “unbeatable” when his numbers are high, then say the numbers don’t mean anything when they’re low.

    On the Iraq bit…we’ve known all along that this wasn’t about having democracy in Iraq — it was about having obedience from Iraq and gaining political capital on the heels of 9-11. I’m not surprised that Bush wants a caucus system (not a very democratic one) at all.

    I’m half expecting to hear reports of Iraqis being shot for protesting whatever political system will be imposed on them…sort of like what’s happening to protestors in Iraq now.

    P.S. – Interesting note: Iowa has a caucus system, and it plays a big role in determining our candidates. How strange is that? And doesn’t it seem a bit odd that Iowa and New Hampshire, relatively conservative states, will help narrow down a group of (supposedly) liberal candidates?

    I am with you on the point about Clark….but I’d be very happy with Kucinich as well. Unfortunately, Kentucky doesn’t have its primary until the race is basically decided. So every vote counts, as long as you live in an early primary state =op

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