just let Edwards
out. He hasn't been fed
in a week. I'd say he'll
be ripping their throats out in less than
Dems may need a tiger
By CHUCK McFADDEN
Throughout the nooks and crannies of the Democratic
Presidential Campaign, the question echoes:
"Should we unleash Edwards?"
It's becoming increasing apparent that in choosing John Kerry
as their presidential candidate, the Democrats picked a good
man, but an inept campaigner. Senator Kerry seems to believe
he is leading a graduate seminar on American political theory.
On the stump, he has sounded until recently like a senator, not
a political candidate. A recent headline in The New York Times
summed it up nicely: "Kerry Ponders Reply to Bush
Memo to Kerry: You ponder, you die. You want headlines
that say "Bush Ponders Reply to Kerry Charge."
Kerry is improving. He or his advisors even seem to have
gotten their arms around the idea that a union hall in Cleveland
is not the same place, and does not require the same language,
as the Senate Chamber. But he still has a long way to go
and there's not that much time until Nov. 2.
That's why attention has lately shifted to Edwards. Here
is a man who instantly grasps what you need to say to people
and how you need to say it if you want to bring them to your
side. He has the much-prized common touch, which Bush also
has and Kerry doesn't.
Edwards fans say that since Edwards seems to know how to communicate
with voters and Kerry doesn't, Edwards must be brought to the
forefront of the campaign if the Democrats are to have any hope
But there are counter-arguments. One of Edwards' chief
assets is his sunny persona and his upbeat message to the common
man. Turn him into an attack dog on the Bushies--the traditional
role of the vice-presidential nominee--and you risk losing what
makes him an attractive candidate. And it may not work
anyway. (Although Edwards certainly snapped back convincingly
when Vice President Dick Cheney made his almost-unbelievable
statement that electing the Democrats would probably mean another
Furthermore, say his defenders, Kerry has a track record of being
a ferocious and effective campaigner when it is late in the campaign
and he's behind. He showed that in the primaries, and he
showed it earlier when he demolished Massachusetts Republican
Gov. William Weld in a debate after trailing him in the polls.
Weld had sought Kerry's seat in the Senate. Didn't
Even so, few political types think the Democrats are going to
win unless something starts to move the Kerry/Edwards ticket
in a different direction.
It's ironic. The Democrats have nominated two attractive
men, one a genuine war hero, and the Bush Administration has
scattered the landscape with mistake after mistake, bad decision
after bad decision.
They have run up deficits that are so huge they threaten to cripple
the economy for decades to come; they have led us into an increasingly
ugly situation in Iraq under a false pretext; they are famously
contemptuous of the environment; they withhold legally required
information from Congress; they let religion hold sway over scientific
decisions; they have a vice president who increasingly seems
to be running off the rails; they have squandered the enormous
goodwill toward the United States by the 9/11 attack and to top
it all off, they throw a cloak of self-righteousness over their
misdeeds that makes one want to gag.
It's a "target-rich" administration, as a Pentagon
spokesman would put it.
Nevertheless, the polls have lately shown the Bush Administration
leading. In mid-September, their chances of being re-elected
are looking better and better.
That's because the Bushies, if they don't know how to govern,
certainly know how to campaign. Keep it simple. Keep
saying it. Stay on offense.
The result is they have so far eaten the Democrats' lunch, even
with the overwhelming handicaps they have been handed.
So faced with all this, will the Democrats bring Edwards up to
start hitting major markets instead of the secondary ones he's
been doing so far? Will he start walking in from the bullpen
late in the seventh inning?
My prediction: Watch the vice-presidential debate.
©2004 by Charles M. McFadden. The McFadden caricature is
©2001 by Jim Hummel.
The cartoons are from IMSI's Master Clips Collection, 1895 Francisco
Blvd. E., San Rafael, CA, 94901-5506, USA.
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