The Washington Post
has two interesting articles on Democratic strategy and policy for the 2004 campaign, and Republicans should be encouraged by them both. First, the Democrats plan to spend the next two years attacking the President's credibility
. This worked so well for the Republicans against Clinton, ahem, I'm surprised they didn't come up with it sooner. The fact is, people trust the President, have bonded with him, and don't care about te policy details and compromises that every leader has to make. They consider him a man of principle, which he is, and watching people like John Kerry, Ted Kennedy, and Tom Daschle try to sound like to soul of credibility for the next two years should be entertaining.
The second was about one of the candidate beauty contests that they go through, trying to appeal to the rank-and-file. The gist of it seemed to be that the anti-war message is likely to be popular among party activists, and may propel one of the second-tier candidates into the first-tier. There's nothing wrong with his analysis as far as it goes, but I don't think it goes nearly far enough.
A longer-term analysis, based on the notion of a short war, happening soon, would look somewhat different. First of all, I'm not sure about the reporter's claim that there is "hardening opposition to a military strike among the party rank-and-file," unless it's a different Party he's talking about. In the polls, even most Democrats support the President on this one, and if it helps a candidate in the early going, he's still going to have to face the voters as a whole. Secondly, anyone who has opposed the war, or is now apologizing for having voted for it (as the Senatorial Presidential candidates seem to be doing), is going to look damn foolish when this thing is over. They'll still be able to carp about the cost of the occupation, but I don't think they'll be able to complain about the war's popularity in Iraq, Iran, or anyplace else we care about. Iraq, properly handled, shouldn't be any more of a quagmire than Afghanistan, and the anti-war candidates will have to look elsewhere for support in a couple of months.