March 16, 2004 – Edwards is from
the South, and Kerry needs someone from the South. Edwards has the
charm and warmth that will compliment Kerry’s less charismatic style
nicely. Edwards has done well campaigning.
And so the line of thinking goes Edwards
would be a good VP pick for Senator John Kerry – should the
nomination become his as it appears it will.
When picking a running mate, a
Presidential candidate is looking for both a friend and someone who
covers a vulnerable flank.
They absolutely must be able to trust
the person and know they have no hidden skeletons that will drag the
ticket down. They must like campaigning with them and discussing
issues as they arise, have or be able to develop a rapport that
allows them to work together during the demanding campaign period.
Personality-wise, Edwards is not much of
a match for Kerry. And Edwards is not a second-seat type – in other
words, he needs to be the head of the class, and there is nothing
Kerry needs or wants less than someone who is not inclined to
accepting a lower rank and taking orders.
More importantly, we already see the
line of attack on Kerry, and – despite the Bush campaign’s explicit
denial – it is an attack on his patriotism.
Just as they did with first Senator John
McCain (R-AZ), then Max Cleland, then General Wesley Clark, the Bush
team is making clear that they consider decorated veterans to be the
most unpatriotic people on the planet.
During the 2000 race they painted McCain
– in the South Carolina primary race – as unfit to serve due to
mental damage he sustained during his time as a prisoner of war.
During the 2002 campaign they labeled then-Senator Max Cleland of
Georgia, a Vietnam Veteran who lost three of his limbs in combat, as
not caring about homeland security and unpatriotic, running ads
against him which included visual references to Saddam Hussein and
Osama bin Laden. And decorated four-star General Wesley Clark was
assailed as having unspecified character issues which made him and
his service to America as Supreme Allied Commander of NATO somehow
And now they are going after John
Kerry. Again, remember this Republican assault is as stealth as it
is public. Right now, they are busy painting him as Hanoi John,
someone who palled around with Jane Fonda (which is, of course,
But this direct line of attack has
veterans already in a bit of a frenzy – albeit these are truly just
Republicans who happen to be veterans pushing the Bush campaign by
pretending to be non-partisans who are angry with John for speaking
out against the war. “Protestors” this past weekend in New York
claimed to be exactly that, and said they were not for Bush or
anyone else, just against John because he broke ranks and spoke out
against the troops while they were still in Vietnam, calling them
“war criminals.” (another lie – he merely, one time, cited a group
who had suggested that acts during one particular event – the Mai
Lai Massacre - may have been war crimes, which very possibly they
were; the Bush camp is misrepresenting this to pretend John called
troops serving in Vietnam, in general, war criminals, even if he
never actually even did it on this one occasion, which is the only
time he even used the phrase and even then only in quoting another
And of course they are busy spreading
propaganda through their e-mail network. For example, take this
ridiculous, anonymous (of course) piece currently making the rounds:
More Mr. Nice Guy
February 07, 2004
When I Met Kerry
Posted by Guest Blogger at February 7, 2004 11:50 AM
I would like to add my two cents about
my John Kerry experience. During
my career as an Air Force pilot, I spent two years flying a small
engine prop plane around the Pacific from my base in Okinawa,
Japan. On one
trip we had to fly Senator Kerry, his congressional aide, and a
(Vietnam, A-4 fighter pilot) who was also in Kerry's party to
locations in Vietnam and Cambodia as part of the MIA/POW talks.
met Kerry , he was wearing a shirt with a picture of his sailboat
I told him I had a small 27 sailboat in Okinawa, he remarked "Oh I
on anything less than 135 feet."
When we first flew him into Phnom
Penh, he went to the back of the
airplane and grabbed the pizza that was put aside for the crew and
passed it around to his staff. He was never offered any pizza
were supposed to have lunch with the Cambodian government once we
The pizza would have been our only meal that day. Then when we
up in Cambodia, he was an hour late getting to the airport. We
start the engines and therefore the air conditioning until he
Phnom Penh at that time was over 100 degrees with 95% humidity and
were basically sitting in a greenhouse behind the cockpit windows.
finally did arrive, we were wringing out our clothes from the
perspiration. He walks out of the air conditioned car, into the
airplane and asks us "Could you guys get the air conditioning
running, I'm a
little warm?" The other pilot had to physically restrain me from
there and picking a fight.
It goes on with this nonsense for a few
So, clearly, all Bush camp denials
aside, the reality is that the Bush/Limbaughian war on actual
veterans is, and will be, in high gear. And truly, the Hanoi John
line of attack is their only line of attack on Kerry that has a
chance to be damaging. If they can not be successful in damaging
Senator Kerry’s most valued asset – his decorated war veteran status
– the Bush/Cheney team may be in a lot of trouble this November.
Now back to the VP issue. Choosing John
Edwards does nothing to cover this flank – indeed, it makes the
ticket seem even softer.
However, if Kerry chooses as his running
mate another veteran, it becomes near impossible for the Hanoi John
line of attack to work. Two decorated veterans against two never-foughts.
While the American people may buy some smearing about one guy, to
take on two decorated veterans as both being unpatriotic would not
only fail but likely backfire on the Bush team. The little
insinuations and silly stories like the above one about Kerry’s
post-service time become irrelevant, if not downright pansy whining.
So that leaves two picks that come to
the forefront. Having been a Presidential candidate, General Wesley
Clark is the obvious one that comes to mind. He is a decorated
veteran, a southerner – bringing the main asset Edwards had as well
– and showed a real ability to raise money and charm people on the
campaign trail. He has looks, charisma, and leadership experience
at the highest levels.
However there is a second choice that
seems just as likely. During this campaign, the relationship shown
between former-Senator Max Cleland and Kerry on the campaign trail –
as Cleland has campaigned alongside John – has shown itself to be a
deep felt and comfortable one. They seem like peas in a pod, two
men who are on the same page.
And indeed this goes beyond just the
men. Teresa Heinz-Kerry has made Max Cleland’s cause her own.
Indeed, for Heinz-Kerry – then a lifelong Republican – the brutal,
amoral assault by President Bush on war-hero Cleland that attacked
him as unpatriotic and not caring about homeland security was the
turning point that caused her to become determined to see that Bush
not serve another term in office. The red-scaring of Cleland is one
of the main rallying cries that motivates her and John during this
election, and one of the reasons you see Kerry never letting the
Bush team get away with public attempts to question his patriotism.
Cleland is also a Southerner and an
experienced legislator, having served 6 years as a Senator from
Clark brings a higher level of
leadership experience, experience negotiating with world leaders,
charisma, and TV savvy. But Cleland may just be someone Kerry feels
fits the role of second in command much better.
What better way to honor America’s
veterans than to show that losing three limbs fighting for your
country does not disable you from serving as President. And while
attacks on Cleland’s patriotism may have been successful in the 2002
Georgia race, it would not work on the national stage, and not with
the Kerry camp ready – and likely looking forward to – that fight.
And like Clark, Cleland is a
Southerner. But unlike Clark, he is a Southerner who has been
involved in politics for years and has lots of experience
campaigning in the South.
Now Cleland did not win re-election in
2002, so his ability to help deliver even his own state would be in
question. But more than anything, Max Cleland would serve as a
reminder and rallying cry against the worst moment of the Bush
administration. Lest people forget how hateful the Bush camp was in
labeling anyone who did not march lockstep with them on Iraq as
unpatriotic and not caring about America’s security, Cleland will be
an inescapable reminder of the true hateful, un-American nature of
President Bush and his brand of Republican.
The one thing the nation is about to
learn about John Kerry is that, yes, he is from the North East, and
yes, he may have some liberal views, but he is not a whiny,
sniveling liberal. If Texas is the tough-guy capital of the
Republican Party, Boston and New York are the tough-guy capitals of
the Democratic Party. And while Boston may be more known for
corduroy-wearing intellectual types, ask anyone who’s been to Boston
and you will find out that it is a city full of people who love a
good fight and don’t put up with crap from anyone.
The Bush team has been a team of
bullies, and there is nothing bullies like less – or that is more
effective in countering bullying – than someone who not only will
stand up to them, but who loves to fight. Bullies bully because
they think they can get away with it without fighting.
Indeed, Bush, Cheney, et. al have lived
their entire lives like this, talking like bullies to the world but
sending others off to do the fighting when it comes down to it.
And so in their campaign against Gore
they bullied and he didn’t fight back, so they had a field day.
This time, they found someone who likes
a good fight, who will bring out the tough-guy nature of
Northeasterners that is often lost to the label Northeast Liberal.
And John will be sure to choose someone
who will be down for the fight with him, and who he knows can hold
his own and cover Kerry’s flank. Hold on to your BS imagery, the
idea of North Easterners as weak, un-American liberals is about to
take a solid shot to the nose and get “rolled,” as they like to say
in the Northeast. There was, indeed, an attitude and expression
that came out during the early contest in New Hampshire, back when
things were truly still up in the air. “Kerry ta boot,” one of his
supporters in New Hampshire told us days before the election. It is
an expression which is used in gambling – horse racing in particular
– that means “all the way.” And the message was clear – Kerry’s our
horse, and ain’t nothin’ gonna get in the way of his winning.
And so far nothing has, as he has had an
easy road to routing the primaries, even against a massive field of
The rumours were out a couple of weeks
ago about McCain - and indeed (as you know) we love McCain and he
combines some of the best that Clark and Cleland do. He is a good,
trusted friend of Kerry with a strong military background and an
appeal to the middle. But it seems entirely unlikely McCain would
take such a step, or that Kerry would choose a pro-lifer - although
a Kerry/McCain ticket would seem darn near unbeatable.
In reality, the choice seems much more
likely to be between Clark and Cleland. To many, Clark may seem the
more likely choice, but don't discount the possibility of Kerry
going with his other dear Southern friend.