Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review Sept. 30, 2002 / 24 Tishrei, 5763

Dick Morris

Dick Morris
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

The Dems just can't
stop themselves | Al Gore's speech attacking Bush over Iraq is the absolute low point in his increasingly bad political instincts. Challenging Bush on terror is like going after Clinton on the economy or Reagan on taxes.

Only in the past week have Democratic Party leaders come to grasp the magnitude of their error in challenging Bush on Iraq so close to the fall midterm elections. As the tracking polls have come in during the past 10 days, party leaders have realized that they have allowed Bush to change the subject from the economy and corporate greed to Iraq, with potentially lethal consequences for them in the congressional elections. But Gore didn't get the message.

When the key Senate races in Missouri and Minnesota revealed Democratic incumbents neck and neck with GOP challengers and national tracking polls showed a Republican edge in congressional balloting, the Democratic leaders began to understand the mistake they made in even raising the topic of Iraq three months before an election.

As the party scrambles to recover from its worst mistake since the Hillary Clinton health-care fiasco of 1994, Bush, Saddam and the Democrats are locked in an interesting triangle where the actions of each affect the other.

Can the Democrats reposition themselves before November? Not with Gore around. Anyway, the very nature of the congressional debate that will absorb the nation's attention in the weeks before the voting will make it very difficult.

Day after day, Republicans will rise to defend action against Iraq and Democrats will express doubts. Driven by the wails of their liberal constituents, the likes of liberal Reps. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) and Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) will raise objections and reinforce the concerns of voters about Democrats' willingness to back action against Saddam.

And Saddam himself will wind up boosting Bush politically: If Saddam sneezes, the Democrats will get pneumonia.

The more the Iraqi dictator roars against the legitimacy of the U.S.-led invasion of his country, the more he drives the topic to the top of the national agenda - exactly what Bush wants and needs politically.

But should Saddam adopt the opposite tactic and continue to proffer concessions and appear more flexible on the inspections issue, he'll still drive a nail into the Democratic chances in November. Why? Because U.S. liberals will take up his cause and pressure their party to take a self-destructive tack in the leadup to the fall elections.

The American Left cannot help itself. It has learned the lesson of Vietnam; since then (as Tallyrand said of Louis XVIII), it has learned nothing and forgotten nothing. Whenever war is discussed, the vision of bodies on a useless battlefield looms before them like a recurring nightmare.

The more Saddam offers concessions, the more he will catalyze liberals' angst and lead them to demand that their party fight the good fight against foreign intervention, however popular and however necessary the invasion of Iraq may be.

After all, why did the Democrats, led by the disastrous duo of Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, demand that Bush provide more justification for the Iraqi invasion? That request catalyzed the collapse of the Democrats' field position as the fall elections loomed. Did the ex-presidents not realize that by articulating such a request, they were inviting precisely the dialogue that Democrats had most reason to fear?

One has to assume that Carter and Clinton were lured to take that position by the Democratic left.

The way to get a Democrat to destroy his own chances of winning is to get his liberal constituency hot and angry and lead it to demand that its representatives stand up and be counted for a liberal, unpopular position. It was just such a quandary that led Mike Dukakis into his famous opposition to the death penalty in the 1988 election and that enticed Hillary ever leftward on health care in 1994.

Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Dick Morris is the author of, among others, "Power Plays: Top 20 Winning and Losing Strategies of History's Great Political Leaders" Comment by clicking here.


09/26/02: The perils of polling
09/19/02: W. boxed in the U.N.
09/19/02: Welfare reform: Keep on keeping on
09/12/02: Are Dems insane on Iraq?
09/09/02: Twin shadows of Election '02
09/05/02: GOP should triangulate
08/28/02: Trust the military
08/22/02: It's not the economy, stupid
08/09/02: As America unites, Gore goes divisive
08/01/02: Bush must focus on big picture
07/23/02: Election 2002: Advantage Dems
07/19/02: Rudy for SEC tough cop
07/17/02: The investor strike
07/15/02: Door open for drug testing students --- go for it, GOP!
07/12/02: Dubya looking out for No. 1?
07/03/02: The DNA war for Bush's soul
06/21/02: Why are conservatives winning?
06/19/02: Learning to love the feds
06/14/02: Hey, journalists and Dems: Dubya is doing just fine
06/12/02: It's terrorism, stupid!
06/10/02: Sanctions are a potent weapon
06/04/02: Al Qaeda's more dangerous new front
05/31/02: Why '04 looks tough for liberal Dems
05/24/02: Democratic self-destruction
05/22/02: The Clinton failures
05/15/02: Pataki positioned to win
05/08/02: A wakeup-call for American Jewry
05/03/02: Give Bush back his focus
05/01/02: Immigration fault li(n)es
04/25/02: It's the war, stupid
04/17/02: Bush goes small bore
04/12/02: Bush must be a gentle partisan
04/10/02: In defense of polling
04/08/02: Focus on Iraq, not the Palestinians
04/01/02: Only Internet will bring real campaign finance reform
03/27/02: Where W's drawn a line in the sand
03/22/02: Enron scandal will not trigger a wave of economic populism
03/20/02: Term-limited --- by war
03/15/02: Europe doesn't have a clue
03/11/02: Bush popularity = GOP win?
03/01/02: Will America be forced to chase its tail in its war on terrorism?
02/27/02: The Arafat/Saddam equilibrium must be destroyed
02/21/02: Campaign finance reform won't hurt GOPers
02/13/02: Dodd scurries for cover
02/11/02: U.S. 'unilateralism'? The Europeans don't have a case
02/06/02: WAR: What women want
02/01/02: They all talk in the end
01/30/01: The odd couple: Chris Dodd and Arthur Andersen
01/22/01: His father's son? Bush better get an 'Act II' fast!
01/18/01: Dubya & the 'vision thing'
01/14/01: The Rumsfeld Doctrine 01/03/01: A President Gore would have been a disaster
01/03/02: Clinton's priority: Political correctness over fighting terror
12/27/01: Terror network grew out of Clinton's inaction, despite warnings
12/24/01: Call 'em back, George
12/18/01: What Bush did right
12/13/01: Libs worry too much
12/11/01: "Open Sesame": Feinstein's proposed bill allows 100,000 non-immigrant students from anti-American countries to our shores
12/07/01: The non-partisan president
12/05/01: Both parties are phony on stimulus debate
11/29/01: When terrorists can enter legally, it's time to change the laws
11/21/01: Go for the jugular!
11/16/01: You are all incumbents
11/14/01: Clinton's failure to mobilize America to confront foreign terror after the 1993 attack led directly to 9-11 disaster
11/12/01: To the generals: Don't worry about losing support
11/08/01: The death of the white liberal
11/07/01: Our leaders are being transformed in a way unprecedented in post-World War II history

© 2001, Dick Morris