The International Writers Magazine: REALITY CHECK with James
Super Tuesday Looms For Last Stands
"If you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into
- Friedrich Nietzsche
As of the
final week in January, the democratic nomination for President of the
United States is John Kerrys to lose. The Massachusetts senators
bold sacking of almost his entire campaign staff, going into hock up
to his eyeballs, and abandoning a pre-New Hampshire ramp-up to put all
his eggs in Iowa has gained him two strong victories and front-runner
This could change.
Ask Howard Dean. The Vermont governor was riding high a mere month ago.
He had significant poll leads everywhere, the cover of major magazines,
and an embarrassing host of endorsements. People in his camp were so
giddy they were shaping their boy up for national debates. Now hes
reduced to spinning cartwheels over being trounced by double-digits
in a New England primary.
Such is life on the stump.
But dont think Dean is dead, despite the orgasmic pundit excoriation
following his apoplectic concession speech in Iowa. These are the same
assholes that fell over themselves painting Dean as some kind of youth-galvanizing
Internet genius. They would be wise to remember other televised political
snap-jobs like Dick Nixon going haywire on reports after losing the
California gubernatorial race in 62 and Ronald Regan nearly impaling
a debate moderator with a microphone in 1980.
Both men unfortunately survived to become president.
But back to Kerry.
Historically the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary are crapshoots.
Iowa is a trade union flophouse for small-time delegates and wannabees
and New Hampshire chooses rogue loons like Pat Buchanan or favorite
sons like Paul Tsongas. Both states barely have enough delegates to
matter and their constituency is white bread personified.
But taking both after being left for dead is hard to stop. No one who
has won Iowa and New Hampshire has lost the nomination. Look it up.
But if not Kerry, then who?
Well, if polling is any indication; who the fuck knows? In the most
insanely paradoxical exit polls known to modern politics, a 3 to 1 majority
of the electorate coming out of the spat rooms in Iowa needed a candidate
vehemently against the war. Yet Kerry and North Carolina Senator, John
Edwards (both of whom voted for the Bush war machine) carried the day.
In New Hampshire it was the "electablity" chant. Yet Dean,
a terribly ill prepared national candidate, gained ground, and Edwards,
a southern democrat with a hint of Bill Clinton glean dropped into a
third-place battle with the increasingly wooden, General Wesley Clark.
The truth is perception is power, and there was glaring evidence that
many of the puppeteers in the party lead by DNC chairman, Terry McAuliffe
pushed hard for Kerry to get back in the race. The motivating factor,
besides Deans scary proposition in a national election, was money.
John Edwards and wife
Dean is backed with mostly private donations from college kids and union
hacks, the big money people could well abandon him in the summer like
the big money people bailed on Bob Dole in 96. The president is
sitting on $200 million right now. By August it will double. There are
six to eight battle ground states in a polarized national electorate.
Winning at that clip takes big cash.
Im not saying McAuliffe or the insiders thought Kerry would actually
win in Iowa, but they could not allow him to nose dive. Winning was
Back in 2000, the GOP power base did not want John McCain, despite his
thrashing of Bush in New Hampshire. By the time the race entered South
Carolina, the strong arm squeeked Junior through and he never looked
But dont be shocked if Edwards or Clark stays alive through Super
Tuesday. The ticket will need a sourthern democrat to compete. The more
airtime they get, the more recognizable they will be. Moreover, a few
states (Oklahoma/South Carolina/Arizona) are up for grabs and could
put a wrench in things.
Even with a warm and fuzzy southern dem on the ballot, Kerry is a risk
come November. He is a New England liberal through and through, and
he has an arms length record to prove it. Once again, the only
two north easterners to gain the White House in the last century were
FDR, who defeated a man who would have lost to Al Capone, and JFK, who
stole the damn thing.
One certainty during these past two weeks is the Democratic Party, its
power people, its candidates and its voters unequivocally despise George
Bush. What the Clintons once did to reinvigorate republicans now falls
to Captain Shoe-In.
And Bush is as vulnerable as it gets.
Even ignoring Newsweek polls ten months before Election Day that have
Kerry at a 4% lead over Bush, the president is in some trouble. His
approval ratings slumped after his flaccid State of the Union address
last week. The continued administration mutiny of the Iraqi occupation,
the conservative fallout from three-year amnesty for illegal aliens
and the controversial steel-tariff, record unemployment numbers, and
this insane jabbering about spending trillions to build condos on Mars,
have already frightened Karl Rove and the White House boys.
Bet on it.
They know this much: If Al Gore wasnt the worst candidate of his
generation, and people in Florida could read a goddamn ballot, George
W. Bush would be a trivia question. Bushs best chance, and Kerrys
worst nightmare, is Dean. Word is Dean is not going quietly. His people
know all about the partys lack of support for him. (McAuliffe
has already gone public in his suggestion that some of the non-winners
should hang it up after Super Tuesday.) He has three-times as much money
as anyone in the race. (The dismissal of clueless campaign manager,
Joe Trippi on 1/28 is hardly a sign of closing shop). And with the delegates
hes gained from endorsements of elected Democratic leaders and
party officials who can cast votes at July's Democratic national convention
in Boston, he actually leads Kerry 113 to 94.
Dean is the classic political loose cannon in the mold of the fightin
Buchanan Brigade, and might well brawl until the convention. Or he could
really screw things up for his party by bolting for Independent status
and taking ten to twenty percent of the vote with him, effectively doing
for Bush what the volatile Ross Perot did for Clinton; get him elected
with less than 50% of the vote.
So expect the remaining debates and sound bites to get ugly. The end
Such is life on the stump.
SUPER TUESDAY HAMMERTIME
© James Campion Jan 30th 2004
Previously by James Campion on Hackwriters
More Lifestyles and Comment
all rights reserved