Man Without Qualities

Thursday, June 19, 2003

Who's Distracting?

Senator John Kerry [December 3, 2002]: Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry said Tuesday that President Bush has used the threat of war in Iraq to distract attention from the nation's economic problems, and he promised to make those issues the centerpiece of his campaign. "They sat down in August and made a conscious decision to bring that up and to dominate the discussion with Iraq."

Senator John Kerry [June 18, 2003]: Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry said Wednesday that President Bush broke his promise to build an international coalition against Iraq's Saddam Hussein and then waged a war based on questionable intelligence. ''He misled every one of us,'' Kerry said. ''That's one reason why I'm running to be president of the United States. ...''I will not let him off the hook throughout this campaign with respect to America's credibility and credibility to me because if he lied he lied to me personally.''

Not so long ago, Democrats and the left generally chanted endlessly that the President and the Republicans generally were focusing on the Iraq conflict to distract voters from what was supposed to be a terrible and deteriorating domestic situation.

Those arguments were silly. But it is interesting that the domestic situation is looking up:

First-time U.S. jobless claims fell for a second straight week while a broad gauge of the economy posted its sharpest gain since December 2001, two relatively encouraging reports showed on Thursday.

But at the same time, more and more Democratic leaders and functionaries can't stop talking and talking about Iraq.

And, of course, it's always a hoot to review what Paul Krugman [April 3, 2003]: had to say on the subject:

The war has monopolized everyone's attention, including mine. But other things are happening, and you shouldn't be shocked if the economic news turns awful.

But, Herr Doktorprofessor, the real shock seems to have been to the Democrats - that the economic news has not turned out awful!

UPDATE: MATT DRUDGE provides some grace notes of high comedy and hypocrisy to Senator Kerry's most recent interpretation of the Saddam Hussein threat. Does Mr. Kerry think nobody writes down what he says - even on the floor of the Senate? It seems that way.

Senator Kerry's nearly always ridiculous performance in the Presidential race so far should emphasize a significant historical fact: United States Senators do not have a good track record in taking the Presidency or being good presidents in the few cases they achieve that office. John Kennedy is not a counterexample - the Senate was always intended by Kennedy and his father to be a stepping stone for him. His political consciousness was not formed by his Senate experience. Messrs. Gore, Mondale, Dole, Humphrey and Johnson, on the other hand, were very much creatures of the Senate.

The Presidency is an executive office. Former governors of even small states such as Georgia or Arkansas have a disproportionate chance at obtaining the Presidency - although former governors of major states like California, Texas and New York have a better record of actually funtioning well as President. For this reason, history gives ex-governor of Vermont Howard Dean a better chance of obtaining at least the Democratic nomination than Senator Kerry, notwithstanding recent polls. And it is for good reason that Democrats should be afraid of that possibility - very afraid.

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