MAR 16 - 31, 2004




Looking At The Only Open Republican Line Of Attack, There Are Two Front-Runners To Be His First Pick - And Edwards In Not One Of Them

by Betsy R. Vasquez


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 unrespectable.

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, completely untrue.)

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 group’s charges.)

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 twin
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 Navy Captain
(Vietnam, A-4 fighter pilot) who was also in Kerry's party to various
locations in Vietnam and Cambodia as part of the MIA/POW talks. When I
met Kerry , he was wearing a shirt with a picture of his sailboat on it.
I told him I had a small 27 sailboat in Okinawa, he remarked "Oh I never sail
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 because they
were supposed to have lunch with the Cambodian government once we landed.
The pizza would have been our only meal that day. Then when we picked him
up in Cambodia, he was an hour late getting to the airport. We could not
start the engines and therefore the air conditioning until he arrived.
Phnom Penh at that time was over 100 degrees with 95% humidity and we
were basically sitting in a greenhouse behind the cockpit windows. When he
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 going back
there and picking a fight.

It goes on with this nonsense for a few more paragraphs.

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 Georgia.

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 qualified competitors.

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.






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Elections 2004

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