Let George Undo It

Bush's Big Tent Has Some Tears—Even on the Right Side

But the Democrats may have gotten a break last weekend, when Florida congressman Mark Foley, the GOP front-runner for the Senate (and a moderate compared with other GOP right-wingers), abruptly pulled out. That leaves it open for Bob Graham to quit his no-go presidential campaign and come back to win Florida for the Dems. Graham, as no other lawmaker, can run against Bush's war policies because of his chairmanship of the Senate Intelligence Committee. He has opposed the Iraq war and has yet to tell about the intelligence snafus. At the same time, Graham has a record as a conservative Democrat, being the single most important politician in the nation in bringing back the death penalty. It was during his governorship that Florida resurrected executions. When it comes to killing people, Graham makes Bush look like Gandhi.

As for the rest of the South, Coker said, the Dems could have a chance in states Clinton carried in both of his elections, and which just might become swing states: Louisiana, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Of Tennessee, Coker noted, "Gore couldn't carry it—and it's his home state. . . . My opinion is that Gore lost the election in Tennessee instead of Florida."

In any case, said Coker, "for the Democrats to be competitive in the South, they'll probably need two things: They'll need the economic recovery to sputter, and they'll need a Southerner on the ticket." Of the candidates now officially in the race, that would mean Graham or North Carolina's John Edwards, and neither campaign has moved an inch to date. Coker didn't put much stock in the chances of probable candidate Wesley Clark.

Staged presence: Dubya brings his  show to Kansas City.
photo: Tina Hager whitehouse.gov
Staged presence: Dubya brings his show to Kansas City.

Weapons of Self-Destruction

Bush's best chance for re-election probably has less to do with big-tent Republicanism than it does with the dwarf toss under way in the Democratic Party. Dean's ahead in the key states of Iowa and New Hampshire, which means someone will be dispatched to take him down ASAP. As in 1988, when Gore was dispatched to New York to waste Jesse Jackson (pictured then, as Dean is today, as a demagogic populist), the job falls to the tired nags in the stables of the Democratic Leadership Council. The idea is pretty simple: Joe Lieberman takes down Dean, thereby opening space for John Edwards to march in. Edwards is and has always been the DLC's sleeper candidate, the man who can save the nation from the mad lefty freaks in the Northeast.

Additional reporting: Phoebe St John

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