- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 5, 2004

Forget terrorism

“One notable thing about John Edwards’ now-famous ‘Two Americas’ speech is that it doesn’t say anything — not a word — about terrorism,” Byron York writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“It doesn’t mention Iraq, either. In fact, the only discussion of foreign affairs at all is Edwards’ pledge to restore America’s image in the world, which Edwards describes as ‘the image we used to have, America as the shining light on top of the hill, beacon of freedom, democracy, human rights.’

“There’s a reason — other than his lack of experience in the field — that Edwards chooses not to emphasize the topic. A look at exit polls from the five states in which such polls were conducted on Tuesday suggests that few Democratic voters — especially those who voted for Edwards — care much about terrorism and national security,” Mr. York said.

“Pollsters asked voters the following question: ‘Which ONE issue mattered most in deciding how you voted today?’ Voters were given six choices: taxes, education, health care/Medicare, the war in Iraq, national security/terrorism, and the economy/jobs.

“In four of the five states for which exit polls are available — Arizona, Missouri, Oklahoma and South Carolina — Democratic voters placed national security/terrorism at the bottom of the list. Only in tiny Delaware, on the East Coast and not far from Ground Zero, did Democrats place more emphasis on the issue — and even then, it was in next-to-last place.

“Democrats in every state placed the economy/jobs issue in first place.”

Misplaced strategy

What Democratic presidential candidates John Edwards, Wesley Clark and Howard Dean face “is a party establishment that craves the certainty of [John] Kerry as the de facto nominee,” USA Today political columnist Walter Shapiro writes.

“This explains why the party’s chairman, Terry McAuliffe, is fulminating against any candidate who remains in the race without winning an early primary,” Mr. Shapiro said.

Mr. McAuliffe and the other leaders of the Democratic National Committee “wanted to drain all of the suspense out of the fight for the nomination, because they feared a divisive contest. That’s why, for the first time, they jammed 17 primaries and caucuses into February.

“But few party leaders realized that the Democratic contenders would do far more damage to George W. Bush than one another. The widespread public attention being devoted to the fast-shifting Democratic race and the candidates’ critiques of the president are major factors contributing to the plunge in Bush’s approval ratings. In short, for the first time in years, swing voters appear to be listening to the Democrats.

“It takes a certain strategic genius to respond to the success of the Democratic race by wanting to cut off the candidates’ dialogues with the voters. If, say, Kerry becomes the all-but-certain nominee in a week or two, he will be transformed from the central figure in an epic political yarn about second chances into a static candidate who has little to do for the next few months but mull his vice presidential selection.”

Predictable polls

“Just as they did a week ago on the night of the New Hampshire primary, looking at exit polls from the Democratic primaries on Tuesday night, CBS’s Bob Schieffer and NBC’s Tim Russert contended the anti-Bush views of the voters, though they were of those motivated enough to vote in a Democratic primary, represented the wider electorate and portend danger ahead for the White House,” the Media Research Council reports.

“Schieffer noted that ‘these are just Democrats,’ but he nonetheless stressed after showing how most feel worse off financially, that ‘when it is this lopsided, it gives you some insight into why John Kerry is actually leading President Bush now in some of these national polls.’ Schieffer maintained that the numbers have ‘to worry the Bush administration because it doesn’t look very good,’ but he did acknowledge that ‘at this point in 1984 the polls showed that Gary Hart was going to beat Ronald Reagan.’

“On the ‘NBC Nightly News,’ Tim Russert argued that ‘when we were in New Hampshire and Iowa, we talked about the way Democrats felt about the war, the economy, President Bush. We thought that if we went down South, or out to the West, it would be different. Not so.’ Russert ran through some exit-poll numbers before expressing admiration for how they show ‘how united the base is in the Democratic Party about George Bush, about the war, about the economy.’

“Later, on MSNBC, Russert pronounced as ‘amazing’ the uniformity of Democratic hostility to Bush, as if you’d expect something different from primary voters, and he found it noteworthy ‘how the Democratic Party has collectively come to an agreement that they do not want George Bush re-elected.’ But the exit poll only surveyed those motivated enough to go out to vote in a primary, the most partisan Democrats, so wouldn’t it be really amazing if they supported Bush?” Brent Baker asked at www.mrc.org.

Hmmm

Fast-fading presidential hopeful Howard Dean toured a hospital in Spokane, Wash., on Tuesday, but ignored the patients, whether toddlers or oldsters, the New York Post reports.

In fact, Mr. Dean, a physician, didn’t have a lot to say during his visit to the Sacred Heart Medical Center, reporter Vincent Morris writes.

“He spent much of the time listening to hospital administrators, but didn’t offer any of his own prescriptions about how health care in Washington state or anywhere in America could be improved,” the reporter said.

“‘We were one of the first hospitals to do open-heart surgery,’ hospital President Michael Wilson told him.’

“Dean replied, ‘Hmmm.’

“Wilson continued: ‘We are one of the first hospitals in the country doing robotic surgery.’

“Dean said, ‘Hmmm.’

“Wilson noted, ‘We are putting in a $131 million expansion.’

“Dean then answered, ‘Hmmm.’”

Ventura at Harvard

Jesse “the Body” Ventura said yesterday that he will teach Harvard students about third-party politics and “how awful the media can be.”

The 52-year-old former governor of Minnesota, political pundit and pro wrestler is one of six resident fellows chosen to lead study groups at the Institute of Politics at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government later this month, Reuters news agency reports.

When asked by reporters at Harvard whether he ever would run for the White House as an independent, Mr. Ventura replied: “I’m out of politics.”

Nader ‘itching’

Ralph Nader, the Green Party’s presidential candidate in 2000, says he is “itching to run again” this year.

In an interview with Newhouse News Service, Mr. Nader said he wants to “broaden and deepen” the issues debate and challenge “the unbelievably obstructive rules and deadlines” that keep third parties off the ballot in many states.

But he won’t decide whether to enter the race until the middle of the month, he said.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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