Man Without Qualities

Wednesday, June 05, 2002

Genius in the House

House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt now thinks that the United States should invade Iraq, that President Bush should be doing more for "homeland security" (ACLU, watch out!) and backs the President's defense expenditure proposals.

Matt Miller describes Mr. Gephardt's defense expenditure conversion: "Richard Gephardt entered the gravitas derby this week with a major foreign policy speech that was perfectly terrific — until it gave away the store. Under the president’s plan, Gephardt explained, “we will be spending $470 billion a year on defense by 2007 (up from the $300 billion Bush inherited) ... even at that huge amount, we will need to spend wisely.' Note that Gephardt didn’t challenge that 'huge amount.' Instead he conceded, as all ambitious Democrats have, that they can’t be for 'less' defense than Bush and be viable. If this premise goes unquestioned, Bush will have reached $400 billion with Democratic assent by 2004."

Further, Mr. Gephardt knows what effect backing the President's $470 Billion defense budgets will do to Democratic attempts to use the federal deficit for political gain. Another issue tossed overboard.

All of that suggests that Democratic focus groups and polls (Mr. Gephardt has had no detectable personal political center for quite some time) are not showing a big success in attempts to confront the President on the grounds of defense, other aspects of national security or the budget. In fact, the recent Democrat assault on the President had the predictable effect of making people focus more on foreign, defense and security affairs - and away from traditional Democratic issues (even Enron). Have the Democrats been keeping track of who thinks this stuff up for them?

It doesn't look like the now-traditional Democratic scams of exciting their base by stirring up racial division by invoking "racial profiling," or assaulting Second Amendment rights by bashing "right wing gun nuts," or many other varieties of Clintony mass distraction are going to get a lot of traction in November. And the economy doesn't look like its going to hell in a way that would assist Mr. Gephardt's political ambitions or Clinton-Gore style class warfare arguments.

What's a leader like Mr. Gephardt to do but chant "Yes, yes, yes, Mr. President" - and hope for the best?

Still, it's awfully undignified - and he doesn't make a very perky cheerleader anyway.

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