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Jewish World Review Nov. 6, 2003 / 11 Mar-Cheshvan, 5764

Dick Morris

Dick Morris
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Prez's weapon against Dean


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | As Howard Dean rolls toward the Democratic nomination, there seems to be no stopping him. Dick Gephardt is making a last-ditch stand in Iowa as is John Kerry in New Hampshire, but I don't give much for their chances. Once Dean hits the first multistate primary and faces Wesley Clark for the first time, he will have so much momentum that he will run over the general without even a pause.


In a Bush-Dean race, the contest would likely hinge on three semantic differences. The way the electorate defines the gay marriage, tax-cut and Iraq issues will spell victory or defeat for the candidates.


Dean signed the nation's first civil-union bill, entitling gays to share in the benefits of marriage without using that particular, loaded word. According to the bill, gay couples can inherit from one another as spouses do, can be treated as married for insurance purposes and in health care have the same rights as married couples. Public-opinion polls show that Americans split about evenly on civil unions. But when the words "gay marriage" are presented, they break 3-to-1 against it.


Dean will insist that he does not support gay marriage but only the limited concept of civil unions. Bush will say that if it looks like a duck, acts like a duck and walks like a duck, it's a duck. Bush will characterize the Dean bill as a gay marriage act and will challenge Dean to approve of the Defense of Marriage Bill that prohibits homosexual marriage.


The former Vermont governor has also proposed repealing most if not all of Bush's tax cuts. Again, polls indicate that Americans break about 50-50 on this issue. But Bush will say that Dean wants to raise taxes - a 2-to-1 no-no in public-opinion polls.


Is the glass half empty or half full? Is a repeal of a tax cut that has been on the books for several years tantamount to a tax increase? This battle, too, will absorb Americans for much of the general election campaign.


Then there is Iraq. It is very well and good to seek the Democratic nomination by offering a history lesson opposing the invasion of Iraq.

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But by next November, Dean will have to offer more. He must address the question of whether we should retreat under fire, leaving Iraq to the tender mercies of the terrorists or whether we should persevere, refuse to run and gradually empower and enable an Iraqi government and accompanying military presence.


The Vietnam War opposition was animated by pleas for bombing pauses, negotiation and a variety of other reasonable alternatives to evacuation. The Iraqi War peace movement has yet to articulate these halfway postures and risks being painted as capitulationist.


So how can Bush transform the debate over civil unions to a referendum on gay marriage; morph the proposal for repeal of his tax cut into a bid for new taxes, and fast-forward the debate over Iraq to one of retreat vs. staying the course?


Early media is the answer. As soon as the Democratic candidate is chosen, before he has time to reload his depleted coffers, Bush must strike aggressively and characterize the issues in his own light and cast them to his advantage.


In this task, he may have an unwitting ally in the campaign-finance laws. Most of the Democrats, probably including Dean, will accept federal matching funds, which place sharp limits on their allowable campaign spending in the period before the Democratic National Convention. Bush is not taking these funds and would be subject to no such limitation.


Bush could enjoy a virtual monopoly of advertising time in the crucial period after the Democratic primaries in March and the national convention in August. He could win the election in a spring offensive.

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JWR contributor Dick Morris is the author of, among others, Off with Their Heads: Traitors, Crooks & Obstructionists in American Politics, Media & Business" Comment by clicking here.

Up

10/29/03:The activist primary
10/22/03: Clark's Achille's heel
10/16/03: The raging fury against the political establishment
10/08/03: Barbarians at the gates
10/03/03: Get ready for Iran's drive to be national suicide bomber
10/01/03: Dean's E-reform
09/26/03: An open letter to Karl Rove
09/24/03: Why Clark will fade
09/18/03: Terror fears fade too fast
09/10/03: As Dubya sinks, Al & Hill scheme
08/25/03: Bias-mongers on rocks as viewers taste straight news
08/14/03: Arnold & Dean's political revolution
08/08/03: Hillary Clinton might not want to wait until 2008
08/06/03: Revolution
07/24/03: As Bush falters, watch Hil run
07/21/03: Peace dominoes begin to fall
07/17/03: Let's hear the good news
07/14/03: Sending troops to Liberia could be a bridge too far
07/10/03: McGovern II
07/07/03: French: Toast
07/03/03: At moment of truth, Hillary turns backwards
06/27/03: And now the dominos begin to fall
06/25/03: W's triangulation
06/23/03: Presidents often fall victim to their own success: Some advice for the president
06/18/03: Times not a-changing
06/13/03: Why did Hillary write the book?
06/11/03: Will the Rev go rogue?
06/05/03: Napoleon's maneuvers at Austerlitz have nothing on prez's
06/02/03: Prez's tax-cut catch-22 for Dems
05/29/03: Liberal author documents Clinton's wasted second term
05/16/03: Early Democrat handicapping for 2004
05/14/03: Gephardt: AWOL
04/30/03: Prez can lose
04/25/03: My message to Putin: Call President Bush
04/23/03: NO OIL FOR BLOOD
04/21/03: The war that network news lost in Iraq
04/15/03: Media meltdown
04/10/03: Giving government a good name
04/03/03: Polls' message to Bush: Relax and win the war
03/31/03: Bomb as you need
03/28/03: The strong grow weak through inhibition
03/26/03: Carping pessimism of TV anchors and interviewers fails to give Americans a sense of defeatism
03/17/03: Poll: Get on with it
03/13/03: It's time for U.S. to play hardball at U.N.
03/10/03: The whole (Hispanic) world is watching
03/07/03: Anti-war errors
03/05/03: Domino theory II: Toppling Mideast despots
03/03/03: Europe's triangulators: Chirac and Blair
02/27/03: Invasion? More like a coup
02/21/03: The first casualty of Iraq war: Liberal credibility
02/19/03: Old Europe's last hurrah
02/14/03: Corzine throws down gauntlet on Wall St. fraud
02/12/03: An exile deal for Saddam
02/07/03: The Dems give up the House
02/05/03: France: Saddam's ally
02/03/03: War critics will suffer
02/30/03: Even by Clinton standards, it's sheer chutzpah
01/24/03: Rebirth of the balanced budget Republican
01/22/03: Next to Bubba, Dubya's got it good
01/16/03: End racism in affirmative action
01/13/03: The new swing voter
01/10/03: Political e-mailing comes of age
01/07/03: In Dem race: Home field no advantage
12/31/02: Hey, Hillary: Want to appear like a stateswomyn? Stay silent
12/19/02: Kerry in the lead
12/19/02: Lieberman the frontrunner
12/17/02: In defense of Lott
12/02/02: An issue for Bush: Drugs
11/27/02: Women gone wobbly?
11/25/02: The U.N. over a barrel
11/15/02: Gore's suicide
11/15/02 One-party control is an illusion
11/13/02 The House of Extremes
11/08/02 I have egg on my face
11/01/02 Is Bush losing control over events?
10/25/02What is causing Bush's free fall?
10/25/02: Anybody sense a trend?
10/23/02: A deadline for Iraq
10/18/02: Only sure bet of 2002 elections is voter angst
10/16/02: Endangered incumbents
10/11/02: Why multilateralism doesn't work
10/09/02: Hey, Dems: Believe NYTimes polling at your own risk
10/03/02: Dem suicide: Let's count the ways
09/30/02: The Dems just can't stop themselves
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

© 2003, Dick Morris