Straw Gabbers

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 2, 2004

Dan Juneau-The LABI Report

It hasn’t been a good time recently for the Democrats running to unseat George W. Bush as President of the United States. First, the economy came roaring back in the third quarter to levels unseen in years.

The Democratic candidates greeted this great news with scowls and a chorus of “yes, buts.” If the economic recovery wasn’t a “tragic” enough circumstance for the Democratic challengers, the 4th Army had the audacity to pull Saddam Hussein out of a hole near Tikrit and film him looking like the defeated coward that he is. Then, to make a bad situation worse, Moammar Gaddafi, after months of secret negotiations with the U.S. and Great Britain, decided to destroy his weapons of mass destruction and open his country to unfettered inspections.

It would be an understatement to say that the Democratic spin doctors are working overtime to try to tarnish these very positive developments, or at least separate them from any claims of credit by the Bush administration.

The Democrats can plausibly claim that Bush had little to do with the economic recovery. But to do so, they would not only have to argue that the president’s tax cuts played no role in the recovery, they would also have to admit that Bill Clinton should claim no credit for what they like to call the “Clinton economic expansion.”

That doesn’t square with their mantra of “Clinton gave us economic growth and Bush ruined it,” so they are scratching their heads, trying to argue down the recovery without sounding like Grinches.

The capture of Hussein was greeted by most of the Democratic candidates (Joe Lieberman excepted) much like the economic recovery. Reduced to its pulp, the mantra from the Democrats basically consisted of: “Oh yeah, well what about Osama, he is the real threat!” Of course, if Osama had been captured, the refrain would have simply changed to: “Well what about Saddam?

Bush has 130,000 soldiers in Iraq and he can’t find him!” But the public opinion polls clearly show that American voters are reacting quite differently from the Democratic candidates regarding Saddam’s capture.

Perhaps the biggest blow to the Democratic candidates was the capitulation by Gaddafi.

When he recently announced that Libya was getting rid of its weapons of mass destruction programs, he made it very clear why he was doing it. He stated plainly that he had seen what the U.S. and its allies had done in Iraq and he didn’t want the same thing to happen to Libya. And how did the Democrats respond (again, except for Lieberman)?

Their tortured logic was perhaps best illustrated by John Kerry’s illogical comment that the Libyan dictator’s announcement was a victory for “multilateralism.” Multilateralism?

Was Gaddafi concerned about being dealt with harshly by the U.N.? Did he fear the French Foreign Legion storming Tripoli? Not hardly. He saw that the U.S. was serious about the policy of “pre-emption” that the Democrats so abhor, and he simply didn’t want to be “pre-empted.”

The Democrats are not serving themselves well by down playing or attempting to tarnish positive developments in both domestic and foreign policy. It makes them look ridiculous and sound petty. If they want to have any hope of defeating Bush and the Republicans in 2004, they need to logically and competently argue a competing vision for America in both foreign and domestic policies.

If they continue to demean what the public feels are steps forward in both domestic and foreign policies, they may appeal to the left of center Democrats in the primaries, but they are ceding George Bush a second term in the White House.