Iowa Caucuses 2004 Part I

Aquarian Weekly 1/21/04 REALITY CHECK

PRIMARY PALAESTRADemocratic Insider Weighs In On The Fight to Battle George Bush Part I

Time is running out on separating the wheat from the chaff in the Democratic run for a presidential nomination. By the time these words hit the streets, there will have been a victor in the achingly hollow Iowa caucuses and less than a week until the all-important New Hampshire Primary, which will likely jettison pretenders like John Kerry, John Edwards, Joseph Lieberman, and the ancillary voices of the past six months of jumbled screamfests masked as debates.

What is slowly shaping up to be a two-man race between General Wesley Clark and frontrunner, Howard Dean (with a weak nod for Dick Gephardt to stay afloat if he challenges in Iowa) could solidify in the next two weeks. But historically these things have a way of settling themselves outside the voter realm; ie – party backbiting, financial favors, power jostling and painfully delivered public retractions. The following is the first of a two-part discussion held over two phone conversations on the evenings of 1/13 and 1/14 with our well-ensconced Dem snitch, affectionately known in this space for the past seven years as Dibbs.

No one I work with has any problem if Dean is the nominee, and there is no tertiary plans to back any particular candidate at this time. It is the people’s choice.

The aim is to get a read on how these political variables, often left for revisionists to decipher, could affect the outcome of these primaries.

jc: Let’s begin on the general assumption that Dean will win a close draw in Iowa and bury the bottom feeders in NH.

Dibbs: Iowa will go to Dean in a close race with Gephardt, but it will be a squeaker. But if Clark beats Kerry out for second in NH, and Kerry is running third in every poll right now, his money sources will run for cover. This is why he spent 40 minutes on Meet The Press Sunday (1/11) referring to everyone in the race except for Clark. He has chosen to ostensibly ignore him.

jc: And why I’m sure Dean has gone the other way on Clark these past few days, calling him a closet Republican. Dean needs to knock Clark down a peg. He would rather beat a fellow New Englander than have a wild card pull in a surprising second. To me, this legitimizes Clark’s recent surge in the polls.

DB: This is expected. The Clark people have studied what Eisenhower went through when he announced as a Republican in ’52. There are still doubts to what Clark is going present in way of opposition in a general election campaign, but there is a great deal of fringe party support for Clark.

jc: I wanted to start with Dean, but since we’re on Clark, is he the party’s only hope to derail what I heard you guys are calling The Dean Debacle?

DB: Nonsense. No one I work with has any problem if Dean is the nominee, and there is no tertiary plans to back any particular candidate at this time. It is the people’s choice.

jc: Yes, and the first pig flight out of Reagan National is at dawn.

DB: Why do you bother to ask?

jc: Where does Clark need to be in NH if he wants to compete on Super Tuesday?

DB: Right where he is. Taking NH has hurt trailers in the past. I think it’s better for him to ease into this thing. Three weeks ago he was third at 10% there, now he’s in second at 20% with a bullet. And, by the way, the most important number is what Kerry comes in at.

jc: I have a Boston Herald poll open online right now, and Kerry is a dismal 15% for Christ’s sake. It was ridiculous he was trailing Dean on Christmas Day, now he’s behind Clark and off the radar. What the hell happened there?

DB: I think Iraq killed a lot of these guys. They supported some part of military action when it was hip, and then when things got hairy, Kerry, Lieberman and Gephart vacillated. Then when Hussein was captured you heard another spin. Dean hasn’t been popular with his pompous anti-war rhetoric, but he has been fairly consistent. And that is the base of this party right now.

jc: Anti-war?


DB: More than anything else.

jc: Other than his clever use of Internet shut-ins and galvanizing the fickle youth vote, what is the Dean appeal right now?

DB: Mostly Dean is comfortable in the role of ultimate opponent. We believe, and I can’t speak for all the big party people, but most of the skinny coming out of the Terry McAuliffe staff is that 47% of people who voted for Gore outright, without any state breakdown, is an automatic Democratic vote. And the independents Gore lost, along with what Nader robbed could make any of our candidates formidable for Bush. This nonsense about Dean being McGovern just doesn’t hold water anymore.

jc: Unless Iraq implodes in the next six months, I don’t see anyway these Midwestern lower middleclass voters are going to run out to vote for a staunch anti-war liberal candidate with their kids still in harms way. Again, that all depends on where Iraq goes by August. It is looking more and more like the economy will no longer be an issue by April, but no one expects Iraq to cool by election day. These deadlines for massive withdrawal are fiction.

DB: All indications are there will be no discovery of weapons of mass destruction and soldiers will continue to die steadily. And I guess it doesn’t bother the nation their president unabashedly lied to them about Iraq?

jc: You mean like FDR, Truman and LBJ?

DB: Have you heard this latest bullshit about how there have been less attacks on American troops since the Saddam capture? Right. Now they only hit helicopters and kill nine and ten at a time, instead of a measly one or two. Five less attacks, same number of dead. Sounds to me like Viet Nam, but we’re not supposed to get into those comparisons.

jc: Viet Nam? We’ve been there ten minutes. Viet Nam is still going on. Anyway, I can’t give Bush any more credit than I gave Reagan with Iran/Contra. Bush is a dupe. The pentagon has to lie. It justifies its existence.

DB: Mark this down, the war will decide Bush’s fate. We are betting on that.

jc: Never mind the general election. Back to Clark. Is there or is there not a divide between Clark/Clinton Dems and the rest of the party with Dean?

DB: There is, but not to the extent that is being speculated. There were the same chasms in ’92 with Reagan Republicans and the Bush sr. people. Conservative killed Bush in ’92 by voting for Perot. I think Dean takes care of the liberal vote, even though; ironically the man has a conservative fiscal record in Vermont.

jc: Where is the liberal vote if Clark is the nominee?

DB: Again, our best research indicates, firmly, that the national vote is as split as it was in 2000. You want to go over those numbers again? If a few dumb ass districts in Florida could vote without a color chart you’re talking to your buddy, Georgetown about the Republican primary right now. Things have not changed, unless you consider this piss-poor economy with record unemployment, a massive deficit, and a war on two fronts. The Democratic vote is out there. The question is will they be motivated enough to cast it.


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