Thursday, September 18, 2003

Dealing with Democratic weakness

I've been trying for the last few days to put my finger on what bothers me about the Clark phenomena. It's not just that I'm a Dean supporter (though I'm sure that clouds my judgement) and it's not that I don't think the guy is qualified to be President or that he can't beat Bush. It really has more to do with the motives of those who are pushing Clark more than Clark himself and what his candidacy says about the Democratic party in general.

It is a fact that the Democrats have a perception problem when it comes to foreign policy. Rightly or wrongly, a majority of the electorate thinks Republicans are better suited to handle this very important issue.

A candidate with a strong military background, like Clark, might deflect some of those criticisms, but I can't help but feel that it is a band aid approach to the problem. What we need is to alter at its core the impression that Democrats are weak on defense. By pushing a general as our candidate it almost feels like the Democrats are conceding this point rather than countering it.

After all, if the Democrats were strong on defense they wouldn't need to nominate a general.

The Democrats need to persuade the electorate that any Democrat, not just Democrats with military background, would be more trustworthy as Commander in Chief. Until they do that then we will continue to run defensive campaigns for the foreseeable future. Defensive campaigns appear weak to the electorate and the last thing the Democrats need right now is to appear weak.


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