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January 31, 2004

THE PROS AND CONS OF JOHN KERRY: An interesting debate at The New Republic, to which Mickey Kaus adds his own observations, including this one: "There's a palpable will to self-deceive among Democrats eager to rationalize away Kerry's flaws."

I could be interested in a Democrat if I thought he were (1) serious about the war on terror; and (2) not too bad in other ways that matter to me. But who would that be? Kerry fails both tests: he's lame on terrorism -- enough to undermine confidence pretty thoroughly. Beside that, my sense is that he hasn't changed much since Doonesbury was parodying him in 1971. (I was put off when, on ABC just after the State of the Union, he described his own vote on the Defense of Marriage Act as "an act of courage.")

Clark seems like a self-centered phony, the kind of officer the troops don't trust and don't like -- and by many accounts, that's what he was. Dean -- well, I actually like him the best, somehow, even though I suspect he'd probably be a disaster if actually elected. (Though Dean is suddenly getting Strange New Respect now that his lead has crumbled). But at least there's a there there. I like Lieberman, but his chance of getting the nomination is about as good as mine. That leaves Edwards, who I'd like to like, but who has been sufficiently fuzzy on many issues that it's hard to tell what he thinks.

I'd like for it to be a tough decision between the Democratic candidate and Bush, and I think it would be better for the country if it turned out that way. But I don't see where that will come from in this field.

Meanwhile, Stephen Green notes Bush's problems, and also notes here, and in a followup here, what's wrong with old-school Libertarians on the war.