Volume 73, Number 42 | February 18 - 24, 2004


John Kerry for president

This year’s compressed Democratic presidential primary schedule appears to have produced a clear nominee earlier than most years. Part of the plan was to allow large states like New York, California and Ohio to be part of Super Tuesday and play a meaningful role in the decision. The plan did not figure on Senator John Kerry’s impressive sweep, which has put his nomination in the something-approaching-inevitable category, pending of course a serious misstep or some other implosion.

Polls around the country show that “electability” is the qualification most Democratic voters are looking for and in state after state, they have sent a clear message that they think Kerry has the best chance to knock off President George W. Bush. Kerry has won 15 of 17 primaries, beating opponents in their home turf in the Midwest and South.

The reasons are clear. Kerry, unlike most of the Democratic candidates in the field, has established credibility on national security and defense issues. Kerry, as Massachusetts senator for the last 20 years, has extensive foreign policy experience and has shown that he is a thoughtful man who approaches international questions with the seriousness the American people deserve.

As a lieutenant in the Navy during the Vietnam War, Kerry saved comrades’ lives and demonstrated his heroism several times, earning a Silver and Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts.

He understood he was fighting an unjust war, and as a young wounded veteran, Kerry returned to America to become an important leader of the antiwar movement. Contrast that with Bush, who supported the war from the safety of a coveted stateside National Guard post — assuming of course, Bush actually fulfilled his service obligations, a questionable assumption at best.

“Bring it on,” indeed.

Bush used the phrase and sounded like he was goading anti-American Iraqis into attacking U.S. soldiers. They took his advice — 540 soldiers have been killed and 3,078 have been wounded since the war with Iraq started. The numbers grow every week, as do the costs. Kerry uses the phrase to stress he’s ready to take on Bush, who is in fact vulnerable.

Despite mounting criticism over the war and the now apparent lack of any Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, Bush will be difficult to beat. Bush can be expected to exploit divisive issues like gay marriage to divert attention from his domestic and foreign policy failures. The Republicans, with $200 million in their war chest, will mount the most expensive media blitz in the country’s history.

At this point, if candidates still want to stay in the race, fine, but criticizing Kerry has become counterproductive.

Howard Dean, early in the race, showed Kerry and the other candidates the backbone needed to win. He has generated enthusiastic support all over the country, particularly in Lower Manhattan. But Dean no longer has a realistic chance to win the nomination.

The Villager endorses John Kerry in New York’s March 2 presidential primary.


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