A Peace candidate in 2004?
But first, mainstream Democrats cave on Iraq (big surprise, huh?)
In rapid succession, the leading Democrats considering a race against George W. Bush in 2004 are lining up behind the president’s push for possible military action against Iraq.
Since Bush’s speech last week to the United Nations, Sens. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) and John Edwards (D-N.C.) have made clear they would back the use of force against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, while House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.) has suggested he would.
Sources close to former Vice President Al Gore, the 2000 Democratic presidential nominee, say he will shortly endorse the prospect of military action. Even Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), who has consistently raised questions about a potential strike against Iraq, appears to be moving toward supporting force.
The Peace candidate emerges
This hawkish consensus could leave an opening for a so-called peace candidate in the developing Democratic race. At the moment, Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who’s openly exploring a presidential candidacy, appears the most likely to audition for that part. The little-known Dean has been more critical of possible military action than any other potential candidate.
Vermont Gov. Opposes Action on Iraq
“The president has to do two things to get the country’s long-term support for the invasion of Iraq,” Dean said in a telephone interview. “He has done neither yet.”
Dean said President Bush needs to make the case that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, such as atomic or biological weapons, and the means to use them. Bush also needs to explain to the American public that a war against Iraq is going to require a long commitment.
Dean is not seeking a next term as Vermont Governor, so he can run for President. Lest you think that little known politicians from small states can’t seriously change things, don’t forget that another Vermonter, Senator Jim Jeffords, not long ago gave the Senate back to the Democrats when he resigned from the Republican Party in disgust.
Yet again, quiet Vermont is shaking things up.