Tidbits for Political Junkies with Short Attention Spans & Hearty Appetites


Thursday, June 17, 2004


Gephardt as VP? Not!

Via Ezra at Pandagon, we learn of this Matthew Yglesias piece on the prospect of Dick Doormat Gephardt as the VP nominee. Yglesias nails it, effectively reminding us of the Gephardt’s craven capitulation on the Iraq war resolution – a move that squashed a Senate alternative that was decidedly less of a blank check:

Then, seemingly out of nowhere, it was announced that Dick Gephardt, leader of the House Democrats, had cut a deal -- a total capitulation to the president's demands, in fact -- with the White House, undermining the negotiating power of Senate Democrats and GOP moderates alike. The result was not only the Iraq War as we know it, but to put many congressional Democrats, John Kerry included, in a rather untenable position. Either vote no and leave yourself open to the charge of thinking that the continued deterioration of the sanctions and inspections in Iraq could simply be ignored, or vote yes and take it as a matter of faith that the president would exercise this broad discretionary power wisely. Thus Kerry and others found themselves voting yes while attaching verbal caveats, rather than voting for a resolution that would have attached actual caveats, and the country's best hope for a rational Iraq policy was dashed.
This fatal trait: the complete lack of resolution at the crucial moment, this utter failure of spine, is arguably the most telling example of what’s been wrong with the Democratic Party over the last few years. Winning will require overcoming this kind of stupidity, not validating it.

Worse, as Yglesias points out, this pattern simply makes Gephardt’s voting record all the worse as a “target of opportunity” for GOP operatives:
What's important is that Gephardt's record -- or rather, his many records -- will be putty in the hands of the Bush campaign, reinforcing their main line of critique against Kerry while adding nothing of value. Arguably, this would be a reasonable price to pay if we were talking about some kind of paragon of political virtue, but we aren't. We're talking about a man who helped drive the country to war in pursuit of transient electoral advantage and didn't even managed to derive any electoral advantage from it.
One can only hope that the “serious consideration” given to Gephardt is just show, an adept and politically astute courtesy, merely to keep him and his followers firmly in the fold, and nothing more.

My bet: Kerry is smart enough to let Gephardt think he's being taken seriously, yet far too smart to actually do so.


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