Volume 16 • Issue 38 | February 20 - 26, 2004


John Kerry for president

This year’s compressed Democratic primary schedule appears to have produced a clear winning presidential nominee earlier than most years. Part of the plan was to allow large states like New York, California and Ohio to be part of Super Tuesday and play a meaningful role in selecting the Democrat to run in November. The plan did not figure on Sen. John Kerry’s impressive primary sweep, which has put his nomination in the something approaching inevitable category, pending of course a serious misstep or some other implosion in the Kerry candidacy.

Polls around the country show that “electability” is the qualification most Democratic voters are looking for and in state after state, they have sent a clear message that they think Kerry has the best chance to knock off President George W. Bush. Kerry has won 15 of 17 state contests, beating opponents in their home turf in the Midwest and South. He won in important states that could swing to either party – Missouri, Michigan, New Mexico, Arizona, Iowa, Tennessee, New Hampshire and now Wisconsin.

The reasons are clear. Kerry, unlike most of the Democratic candidates in the field, has established credibility on national security and defense issues. In a post-9/11 world, unless a candidate is able to pass that first test in the minds of swing voters in battleground states, he or she stands little chance of being elected president in the U.S. Kerry, as Massachusetts senator for the last 20 years, has extensive foreign policy experience and has shown that he is a thoughtful man who approaches international questions with the seriousness the American people deserve.

As a lieutenant in the Navy during the Vietnam War, Kerry saved comrades’ lives and demonstrated his heroism several times earning a Silver and Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts.

He understood he was fighting an unjust war, and as a young wounded veteran, Kerry returned to America to become an important leader of the anti-war movement. Contrast that with Bush, who supported the war from the safety of a coveted stateside National Guard post – assuming of course, Bush actually fulfilled his service obligations, a questionable assumption at best.

“Bring it on” indeed.

Bush used the phrase and sounded like he was goading anti-American Iraqis into continuing to attack U.S. soldiers. They took his advice – 543 soldiers have been killed and 3,087 have been wounded since the war with Iraq started. That was as of Wednesday. The numbers grow every week, as do the costs. Kerry uses the phrase to stress he’s ready to take on Bush, who is in fact vulnerable.

Less people are working in the Bush economy. He converted the nation’s largest surplus into the largest deficit because of his obsession with giving tax breaks to the wealthy. His handpicked weapon’s inspector says that there probably are no nuclear, biological or chemical weapons in Iraq. His secretary of state said in hindsight, he’s not sure whether he would have recommended going to war.

Despite these weaknesses, Bush will be difficult to beat. The nation is deeply divided, and Bush can be expected to exploit divisive issues like gay marriage to divert attention from his domestic and foreign policy failures. The Republicans, with $200 million in their war chest, will mount the most expensive media blitzkrieg in the country’s history.

The president’s drop in the polls is due in part to the active Democratic race. Sen. Jon Edwards, the only other Democrat with perhaps an outside shot at the nomination, has insisted on running a positive campaign, so his continued activity is unlikely to be damaging to Kerry. Howard Dean, who early in the race showed Kerry and the others the backbone needed to win, has ended his active candidacy and is now focused on keeping his energetic base energized through November. Dean, who had strong support in Lower Manhattan, has made a wise decision that should help the person in the best position to take on Bush.

Downtown Express endorses John Kerry in New York’s March 2 presidential primary.

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