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Sunday, June 11, 2006

Democrats in a Post-9/11 World.

When will they ever learn?

I just read that former Sen. John Edwards and Sen. Hillary Clinton topped the latest Iowa straw poll and I'd be remiss if I didn't express just a touch of outrage over the failure of the Democratic Party to seize upon the weaknesses of the Bush Administration's Iraq folly.

According to the article, Edwards weighed in at 30 points, followed by Sen. Clinton at 26 points. Candidates who might actually have a chance in a national election fared much worse - hovering around the third and fourth percentiles.

While I'm sure the media has pounded into everyone's head that John Edwards has oh-so-much charisma and that Sen. Clinton is the only choice for the 2008 Democratic nominees, the fact remains that neither would appeal to the mushy middle in flippable red states (also known as purple states).

For starters, Edwards, a affable Southerner, didn't help his running-mate Sen. John Kerry flip any Southern or mid-Western red states in 2004. As a Southerner, my educated guess is because he simply wasn't seen as having much leadership abilities, at least not those who would appeal to voters fed-up with Republican corruption. In short, he doesn't have any "macho" appeal.

Edwards, a one-term senator from North Carolina, spent his pre-senatorial life as a personal injury attorney - not exactly the world's most beloved profession, but a necessary one. However, such a profession does not lend itself to the education required to provide the country with a formidable national security policy.

Many moderate voters in the South and the mid-West, when they're not concerned with God, gays and guns, wanted to feel secure in the wake of 9/11. Edwards couldn't provide that security for them (Kerry might have provided this security given his many years in diplomacy, but his New England brogue distanced him from the drawl of the Southland. They felt he was talking at them and not with them).

And what of Sen. Clinton? Her position as senator of New York certainly provides her with more national security credentials than Edwards, particularly as New York City was the hardest hit during the 2001 terrorist attacks.

But, this is the United States under George W. Bush and the Republicans: we've stepped back light years in the promotion of women and misogyny runs rampant. Clinton simply cannot win a national election because the country will not elect a woman, even one as accomplished as Sen. Clinton, during a time of war(s).

She also has a similar problem as Kerry faced in 2004: she's from up North. As the wife of a New England liberal, I wish these biases didn't occur, but 35 years of Nixon's "Southern Strategy" has so divided the country, that any Democrat running from any place other than the South or the mid-West is at a 10-point disadvantage right off the start. That's why the last two Democratic presidents - Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter - were both Southerners with speech like molasses. Heartlanders see Democrats as out of touch with their values from the get-go, but they see them as particularly over-the-top if they're from more liberal areas of the state (despite Mrs. Clinton's continuous move to the right, which hasn't endeared her to the Democratic base).

So the problem remains: how does one convince the Democrats throughout the rest of the country to nominate someone who can both counter-attack the Republicans on the national security issue and can win?

With Gen. Wesley Clark polling at about two percent, one has to wonder.

Here is a man who is Southern, accomplished, intelligent - possessing both diplomacy credentials and a master's degree in economics - and photogenic (yes, this is needed in American politics today), yet he cannot get the media and party attention needed to spur his populist message to the masses: they simply don't know who he is. And, if they do, they seem only to buy into the right-wing's slurs that he's really a Republican (I don't know many Republicans who were against the Iraqi war from the start, who are pro-choice, who believe in talking over tanks and who continuously calls out the Bush Administration for their failures both at home and abroad).

If Democrats were serious about winning one, they'd go for the outsider dark horse who can both destroy the Republican's pre-determined national security dominance while espousing populist economic policies, such as environmental protections and outsourcing.

And, as if that wasn't enough, the man is a church-attending Christian who is loved by both those of the Jewish faith (as his father was Jewish) and by many Muslims, whom he rescued from genocide in Kosovo.

But they'll continue to believe the media - bought and paid for by six conservative corporations who will tell them anything to get the weakest Democrat - instead of planning for a general election. They'll ignore the very real regional bias that exists as they did with Kerry and Dukakis. They'll ignore the fact that a senator hasn't been elected to the office of the Presidency since John Kennedy in 1960. They'll ignore that national security will be the predominate issue for years to come. They'll ignore that there is a cultural divide that must be crossed in order to flip a couple of red states. They'll ignore all this to their detriment.

When will they ever learn?







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