Editorial: Democrats must choose candidate to get ready for GOP onslaught
Tuesday’s Democratic presidential primary in Indiana arrives amid continued squabbling between Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Republicans already are trying to capitalize on the so-called controversies involving the two in an effort to get Sen. John McCain into the White House.
The shoddy, superficial ABC News-sponsored television debate between the two April 16 successfully has added another ring to the circus. The primetime debate from Philadelphia was embarrassing for both candidates, though most observers felt Obama got the worst of it.
Among the tripe that debate moderators Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos threw out were inquiries about Obama’s relationship with his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright; comments Obama made about “bitter” Midwesterners’ gravitation to guns and religion; and Clinton’s false claim that she had been under fire in Bosnia while first lady.
Presumably, Gibson and Stephanopoulos wanted to delve into the character of the candidates before asking them substantive questions on the economy, Iraq, health care, etc.
But it wasn’t as though the candidates had ignored the issues before the debate. Quite the contrary: Each already had responded repeatedly to questions in the press.
And now right-wing TV hosts and newspaper pundits are questioning Obama’s patriotism because he doesn’t always wear his American-flag lapel pin. That “issue” also came up in the ABC-inspired fiasco.
Think of it this way: President Bush takes great pride in his flag lapel pin, spouting off his patriotism at every opportunity.
Fabulous: The country’s mired in a pathetic war that never should have started. Our economy stinks. Our national debt is surreal. Our environment is under constant attack, our health-care expenses are skyrocketing, and our relations with other countries are at a new low.
And as the presidential race moves forward, expect jingoistic Republicans to downplay these issues. Instead, they’ll hammer Democrats over flag lapel pins, trot out clips of pontificating fools such as Wright ” whom Obama has scathingly criticized ” and beat to death Clinton’s Bosnia flub.
On the Democratic side, expect strategists to mischaracterize McCain’s remark that Americans will be in Iraq for 100 years, or 1,000 or 10,000, as he said in a recent television interview. It’s entirely possible, given the enormity of this profoundly botched operation, that American servicemen will have to remain in Iraq for a long time. But not as front-line fighters, as some Democrats are trying to spin McCain’s remarks.
But given the history of Republican strategy ” which obliterated 1988 Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis over his views on the pledge of allegiance, and then worked just about as well with Sen. John Kerry’s Vietnam War record ” Democrats must quickly start firing on all cylinders.
The eventual Democratic candidate will need time to plan a counterattack to the Republican onslaught everyone knows is coming. This behooves Clinton and Obama to settle their scores and unite.
Perhaps Indiana will help clarify the picture.
We hope so.