Bush Overshadows the Primaries


NASHUA, NEW HAMPSHIRE—The true victor in last night’s Iowa caucuses was George Bush. Starting Monday, and all day today and tomorrow, the media will be full of nothing but Bush’s State of the Union message. He has reduced the key New Hampshire Democratic primary contest to two real news days—Thursday and Friday. The President overshadows the rest of the week.

The pundits say Iowa proved people are more interested in domestic issues—unemployment, health care, insurance, et cetera—and not the Iraq war. Democratic ideas on these subjects are overwhelmed and blocked out by Bush’s own proposals, reportedly including one will push
Medicare farther toward privatization by inflating the already costly system with higher than usual payments. This in turn will persuade private insurance companies to return to the program.

The conservatives want a national system modeled along the private-insurance system offered all federal government workers. This is an idea long advocated within the conservative and very influential Heritage Foundation, and embraced by the Democratic Leadership Council’s Republican look-alike John Edwards, as well as General Wesley Clark. In the eyes of the DLC, Edwards carries the torch for the Clinton centrist middle-class cause. The
DLC people always like to position themselves ever so slightly to the left of Attila the Hun.

In their effort to get a nominee who is electable, party leaders (i.e., Clinton) brought on Wesley Clark. He claims to have brought peace to a million and a half people in Kosovo at the expense of his own career and ought to be the perfect candidate to receive the benefits of the Kerry victory. But Clark is an odd duck, and he started sounding like Alexander Haig on Larry King last night when Bob Dole, one of King’s panelists, suggested to Clark that he might be the loser in New Hampshire. Clark exploded: “Senator, with all due respect, he’s a lieutenant and I’m a general. You got to get your facts on this. He was a lieutenant in Vietnam. I’ve done all of the big leadership.”

For a while it almost seemed as if Dean could survive the merciless attacks in the press. But it finally drew blood in Iowa. For months the DLC—fielding Edwards and Lieberman—has been plotting and planning how to get rid of the former Vermont governor, lest the party lose its mind and embrace him. The press, which on occasion performs as if it were a wholly owned subsidiary of the DLC, did its best to help out. The pundits and reporters took up Lieberman’s charge that Dean was a dangerous leftist—which of course he is not. Dean’s a moderate Democrat like most of the others. Then they claimed he didn’t have the experience to run the country, having only been governor of a tiny state. Bill Clinton was attacked on the very same grounds in 1992.

Gephardt, who rose from the St. Louis suburbs during Watergate to become a Common Cause Democrat, started in on Dean’s medical program, charging that Dean was a flippity-flop for claiming advances in health care when he had
worked behind the scenes to gut Medicare. The facts were as Dean pointed out: He implemented a medical insurance system in Vermont that provided
every child with coverage whether or not they or their parents could pay. In addition, the state has an extensive insurance program that offers affordable coverage to many of its residents. Ignoring these facts, the press recited Gephardt’s absurd attacks day after day. Many pundits boo-hooed Gephardt’s withdrawal last night.

Then Prince of Darkness Bob Novak, the man who outed CIA agent Valerie Plame, led the attack on Dean for raising the questions about what and when George Bush’s administration knew about 9/11. Dean was painted as unpatriotic. Did Dr. Dean have no conscience? How dare he attack George Bush, our commander in chief in war? It doesn’t matter that the question of foreknowledge is widely discussed in political circles all across the country. The question of foreknowledge was fueled by a Senate Intelligence Committee report that was widely reported, not by some Commie hiding out in the Dean camp.

Sooner or later they were going to get Dean—just as the conservative insiders got Jesse Jackson in 1988 (Al Gore was the hatchet man in that campaign) on grounds that he was anti-Semitic, and Jerry Brown in 1992
on a reporter’s scoop that Brown was some sort of mad drug addict.

And this morning the media is saying Dr. Dean has gone mad, screaming and yelling encouragement to his supporters in Iowa. The press wizards, also point out that some of Dean’s supporters in Iowa are imports from somewhere
else—unlike, say, the throngs of people from Arkansas imported into New Hampshire in 1992 to support Bill Clinton, or the Arkansas contingent led by former senator Dale Bumpers at Wesley Clark’s cheering rally last
Saturday. Reporters also carefully note that college students and other young people recruited through the Internet didn’t vote for Dean. The TV
people could scarcely hide their grins when they got to dump on the Internet, which is well on its way to replacing them. So. Relax. The insiders in Washington are back in control.

Additional Reporting: Ashley Glacel and Alicia Ng