- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 2, 2003

I see Howard Dean has told residents of Boulder, Colo., that he’s a “metrosexual.” Not familiar with the term? Don’t worry. It may be a critical Democratic Party demographic group, but it barely exists outside the Style sections of the chichier publications.

A metrosexual is a heterosexual man who has a gayish sensibility in his dress, cologne, home decor and album collection. If men are from Mars, it doesn’t mean they can’t be in touch with their Venusian side.

There seem to be several metrosexuals in the Democratic field. Look at retired Gen. Wesley Clark, America’s most famous political metrosexual. He may have spent the last year giving off warlike vibes, but he insists his orientation is strictly antiwar. He may have flirted with the Republicans at fund-raiser after fund-raiser but he got into bed with the Democrats. Sure, the column he wrote in the Times of London just after the fall of Baghdad reads like a love letter to George W. Bush and Tony Blair, but at heart he has always been with the trust-fund protesters jumping up and down in the streets last weekend waving placards asserting “Bush kills / U.N. heals.”

And let’s not forget his fellow Democratic metrosexuals Sens. John Kerry of Massachusetts and John Edwards of North Carolina. A year ago, they voted for war; Mr. Edwards was boasting he had practically written the Patriot Act. Now they’re saying whoa there, feller, don’t leap to conclusions: Voting to authorize the president to go to war was just our way of expressing our principled antiwar position.

What is it that these boys think Mr. Bush did wrong? Simple. In his 18-month rush to war with Iraq, he didn’t have a plan. “When you put American troops in harm’s way, you better not do it without a plan,” says Mr. Clark. “I said at the time that it was critical for us to have a plan,” says Mr. Edwards. “This president has no plan of any kind.”

So presumably Messrs. Clark, Kerry and Edwards have a plan? You better believe it. Years ago, John Lennon and Paul McCartney said: “There are always two things we do when we sit down and write a song. First we sit down. Then we write a song.” That’s the Democratic plan for Iraq in a nutshell. Their big in-depth plan is to (a) sit down and (b) make a plan. The sitting-down part — with the United Nations, the French, the Guinean foreign minister, etc — could easily have gone on so long they’d never get around to (b).

Under John Kerry’s “plan,” Saddam would still be in power, the French would still be selling him the 68mm missiles used in the attack on Paul Wolfowitz’s Baghdad hotel last week, and there would still be Iraqis would still being fed feet-first into the industrial shredders. Or have I missed something?

Indeed, so eager is Mr. Kerry to subordinate U.S. foreign policy to Saddam’s patrons that his attacks on America’s real allies have become increasingly obnoxious. In the last presidential debate, Mr. Kerry said:

“This president has done it wrong every step of the way. He promised that he would have a real coalition. He has a fraudulent coalition.”

What’s “fraudulent” about the coalition that toppled Saddam? The principal players — the Americans, British and Australians — are three of only a handful of countries to have been on the right side of every major conflict of the last century: the First World War, the Second, the Cold War, and now the war on terror.

I bet on form. When it comes to standing up against totalitarianism, the heavy lifting has been done by America and the British Commonwealth. Mr. Kerry is the first to get all hoity-toity if he feels someone is insufficiently deferential to his war service. So who is he to mock the brave Royal Marines, Desert Rats and other British forces who took and held southern Iraq? Who is he to mock the Australian SAS who did such a great job in seizing so many Ba’athist bad guys in northern and western Iraq? Or the Polish troops leading the multinational contingent in central Iraq right now?

It has been taken as a given among Democrats that somehow this administration has needlessly offended the French and Germans. But insulting Britain, Australia and Poland as a cheap way to get at Mr. Bush demonstrates your superior sense of the subtleties of foreign policy? I would say it is going to be very difficult for a President Kerry to work with these chaps after his election victory — or I would say it if I could type that sentence without collapsing in giggles.

The really “fraudulent” coalition is the one Mr. Kerry wants — one that gives the Belgians and Syrians a veto over U.S. action for nothing in return. The “fraudulent” coalition is Mr. Clark’s from the Kosovo war, where all “allies” were entitled to advance operational information regardless of whether they were actually contributing to any of the operations and where, as Mr. Clark himself noted in his memoir, “one of the French officers working at NATO headquarters had given key portions of the operations plans to the Serbs.”

I can stand anything from politicians except being taken for an idiot. The whacko end of the Democratic field are — Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich and Company — are admirably straightforward. But when Mr. Kerry says his vote for war wasn’t a vote for war, he is insulting every Democratic voter. When Mr. Clark says, “I’ve been against this war from the beginning. I was against it last summer, I was against it in the fall, I was against it in the winter, I was against it in the spring. And I’m against it now,” he’s also insulting every primary voter, who should look him in the eye and serenade him in words very like those sung by Robert Goulet in “Camelot”: “If ever I would believe you, it wouldn’t be in summer ? Oh, no, not in springtime, summer, winter or fall; no, never would I believe you at all.”

If the candidates’ position is that Mr. Bush’s photo-op on the USS Abraham Lincoln was the worst kind of premature triumphalism, what are we to make of Mr. Clark’s call — on April 10 ? to break out the champagne: “Let’s have those parades on the Mall and down Constitution Avenue.” This guy was so “consistently antiwar” he was practically marching on Syria.

Trying to work out what Mr. Clark and Mr. Kerry truly believe reminds you that what defines metrosexuals isn’t that they’re gay or straight but that they’re preening narcissists. You want to know what’s “fraudulent”? These guys’ campaigns. Driving through a big swathe of western and northern New Hampshire the other day, I saw gazillions of Dean signs and none for any other candidate except one John Edwards sign in Hanover. Mr. Kerry has been in the Granite State a lot longer than the Americans have been in Iraq, and he’s getting nowhere;he’s bogged down in a “quagmire.” Maybe the reason he keeps mentioning Vietnam every 10 minutes in New Hampshire is because for him the parallels between the latter and the former are becoming more and more ominous. Could it be that he and Mr. Clark went into this thing without (drumroll, please) a plan?

Maybe it’s time to start thinking about an exit strategy. Or maybe that 7.2 percent economic growth will collapse to 6.4 percent. …

Mark Steyn is the senior contributing editor for Hollinger Inc. Publications, senior North American columnist for Britain’s Telegraph Group, North American editor for the Spectator, and a nationally syndicated columnist.

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