Thursday, May 01, 2003

How to deal with mudslinging in the Democratic race: get used to it

There's been a lot of talk in the blogosphere and in the establishment media as well about how the Dean/Kerry dustup could hurt the Democrats in the long run when it comes time to unite and turn the guns on Bush. Liberal Oasis has some calm words of assurance at this moment that I think we should pay attention to: Yes, ideally Dems should not bloody each other when we all should be setting our collective sights on Dubya. Realistically, presidential politics is a nasty game filled with humongous egos. When someone sees an opening to land a punch, there’s gonna be a punch. With a nine-way race, such squabbling will be rampant. It will be unpleasant to watch. But it's unstoppable, and hence, not worth grousing about. And by no means does it ensure defeat in 2004. The race in 1992 between Bill Clinton, Paul Tsongas and Jerry Brown got real mean. Clinton was quite bruised at the end of it, running behind Bush and Perot in some polls. But he still won. In 1988, the Poppy Bush-Bob Dole race was no tea party. After Bush used misleading ads to beat Dole in New Hampshire, Dole went on TV and told Bush to “stop lying about my record.” But Bush still won. Despite the negative punditry that surrounds such fighting, there is an upside. It’s good practice. I would hope that, once the dust settles, we can ALL put our bad feelings behind us and unite against the true enemy. It can be done.


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