Less than twelve hours after John Kerry’s smashing upset victory in last night’s Iowa Caucuses, let’s do a quick and dirty examination of Kerry the Candidate:

1) Thirty four years ago when I was a 16-year old boarding school student in North Andover, Mass., a tall, gangly fellow appeared frequently on our campus while he was campaigning for a seat in the US House of Representatives. It was John Kerry. He lost that race, then went to law school, became an assistant District Attorney, Lt. Governor to Mike “the Duke” Dukakis, and then in 1984 won a seat to the US Senate. The point here is: Kerry is a long-time, seasoned, professional candidate and campaigner. He is not to be underestimated.

2) Vietnam: Kerry is going to play his ‘hero’ card for all it is worth. He was particularly incensed – as was Wesley Clark – when George W. Bush dressed up like a Navy pilot and ‘pranced,’ as Clark calls it, around the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln. That is why Kerry made his formal announcement with the USS Yorktown as the backdrop in Charleston, South Carolina. Both Kerry and Clark are going to go after Bush’s Texas Air National Guard record – including the time he was allegedly AWOL in Alabama – as a contrast to their Vietnam wounds and medals.

3) Veterans: Kerry is making a big push for these crucial voters. His Achilles Heel may yet turn out to be his Chairmanship of the US Senate Select Committee on POW/MIAs. This was a disgraceful and shameless cover-up of the truth about our abandoned men – all to ‘clear the decks’ for normalization of relations with Hanoi.

4) McCain: Kerry and John McCain are best friends. And they both hate G.W. Bush. McCain remains bitter over Bush’s campaign against him in the South Carolina primary four years ago. Do not rule out the possibility that Kerry will ask McCain to be his running mate. Why? To corner the all-important independent vote that McCain won in 2000.

5) Edwards: the other hot candidate coming out of Iowa, Edwards is perfectly positioned to be anyone’s Veep candidate. Young, attractive and smart, this southerner is a Major Player from here on out.

6) Weaknesses: The Democratic Party convention this summer is in Boston – home of the Kennedy and Mike Dukakis. If John Kerry wins the nomination – and make no mistake about it: he is not is possession of the Big Mo in New Hampshire – can the Democrats win with yet another Northeastern Liberal? That image of the Kennedys and all the other lefties surrounding Kerry and his running mate will not play well in Bush’s red states.

7) Candidate skills: Kerry is not that great a speaker. He is boring and looks like an undertaker. He does not have the smile or glibness or charm of Edwards. But he won’t make a big blunder and he won’t behave like Al Gore, either. He is hungry to win, will do anything to win and should not be underestimated.

8) Mainstream Media: the leftists who parade around as ‘objective’ media members all are for Kerry precisely because he is an inside-the-beltway ‘establishment Democrat.’ They were scared of the Dean insurgency because they were not a part of it.

9) Dean is on his way down and out. That awful concession speech last night should scare the pants off everyone. When he is gone a questions remains: what of the ‘us against them’ insurgency that is very much alive in this country? If the race ends up as Kerry versus Bush, millions of voters may be against both. The split in America is clear: establishment elites versus everyone else. There is an underlying populism that is still searching for a better alternative. That is why Perot and McCain caught fire in the past elections. No one has yet harnessed those voters. Will someone new step forward?

10) Conclusion: Team Bush is reeling a little today. They were certain that Dean would be their opponent. In fact, they made that so clearly known that Dean’s electability became a major issue in Iowa and New Hampshire. Voters who want to beat Bush began to ask, “If Bush and Karl Rove want to run against Dean so badly then maybe we ought to ask why?”

Kerry is hot now. He will win New Hampshire next week. Then come some southern states. Will he play well down there? Or will Edwards start winning some primaries?

We still have a long, long way to go.


Let us review the 2004 presidential campaign as of today:

1) Dean’s upward momentum has clearly stalled. He is, in fact, declining in New Hampshire. In Iowa his lead over Richard Gephardt, according to today’s Zogby poll, is down to a mere 2 points.

Why has this happened to the clear front-runner?

Well, because he has been running away with the race, all the other candidates – and the Bush campaign, too – have been attacking him. And the result is a predictable stalling of his momentum.

Dean has also given his opponents much ammo with which to attack him. The Canadian Television tapes are a virtual gold mine for his enemies!

Every day – heck, every news cycle – Dean is now on the defensive about some previous statement he has made. Simple political rule: if you become the issue in the race, you will lose. No, you want to make the other guy the issue.

2) Clark is the only Democrat to have upward momentum. He is gaining steadily in New Hampshire. While he may not threaten Dean for a win there in 2 weeks, Clark’s goal is simply to score a respectable second place as they head to the South. Clark wants to make this a two-man race: Clark versus Dean. Clark has improved as a candidate, has raised a lot of money considering he was a late entrant into the race and – most important of all – he has no record. He is a blank slate, unlike Dean.

3) The Bush Campaign has made one huge mistake: beginning last summer when Karl Rove went up to New England and let it be known that the GOP wanted to run against Dean, we read this these over and over again. This is now beginning to have an impact inside the Democrat party: voters who are desperate to beat Bush are now beginning to wonder exactly why Bush/Rove want to run against Dean so much?

4) The lousy jobs report Friday was a big blow to the Bush and GOP. With a supposedly expanding economy – 8.2% growth rate in the third quarter – how can the economy only produce 1000 new jobs? And with 300,000 workers dropping out of the job market what does this portend for the jobs issue in the fall?

5) Make no mistake about it: the Democratic Party badly, badly wants to beat Bush. Their primary voters are shopping for a winner. Dean may have their hearts as an anti-war leftist. But doubt about his delectability is creeping into the race. Clark is the flavor of the day because he is new and because he has no record.

6) Blank Slate: Clark can fill in those blanks any way he sees fit. He already has smartly moved to the right of Bush on the failure to get Osama Bin Laden. And his latest gambit was to proclaim that no 9/11-style attack would happen on his “watch.”

Conclusion: The race is fluid and there is momentum for Clark. Dean is still the front-runner but he may have peaked. His mouth may cost him.


The New Year – a Presidential elections year – is upon us. Here is the outlook for what promises to be a wild leap year:

1) First some unfinished business from last year when I predicted a ‘major scandal’ involving both parties combined with a book exposing years of perfidy in Washington DC. Obviously it did not happen last year. But it will happen this year. And, if it happens before November’s elections, it will alter their outcome. This is a moral and political scandal that no previous scandal – Watergate, Teapot Dome, Monicagate - can match.

2) The Democrats will nominate Howard Dean as their presidential nominee. He will pick retiring Florida Senator Bob Graham of Florida as his Veep running mate. They will savage G.W. Bush on pre-9/11 intelligence failures and on the failure to get Osama Bin Laden.

3) Tom Kean’s 9/11 Commission will aim its fire at mid-to-low level bureaucrats in the FBI, INS, and Customs for failing to “connect the dots” that could have prevented the attacks. But President Bush and Condy Rice will be ambiguously ‘cleared’ of malfeasance. Kean’s report will not satisfy anyone.

4) No WMD will be found in Iraq.

5) The Shiites in Iraq will begin to erupt. Chaos will loom. There will be no ‘democracy’ as we know it in Iraq. It is more likely to descend into a chaotic mess of tribal hatreds and pay-backs.

6) A Ross Perot-type third presidential candidate – from the conservative side of the spectrum – may emerge by the spring. This new candidate will catch fire and will threaten to turn the whole race upside down.

7) The Medicaid prescription drug benefit will end up by election day as a huge negative among senior citizens for President Bush and those in the Congress who voted for it. This is because the more seniors hear about it the less they like it. In key states such as Florida, Pennsylvania, Oho and Michigan with large populations of seniors, this could become a major problem.

8) The economy will continue to recover. But the gap between rich and middle class will grow. And the middle class won’t think the economy is so gang-busters for another year or so.

9) Some job growth will occur this year. But the perception will continue that it is a ‘jobless recovery.’

10) The Clintons will try to sabotage Dean if Dean looks like he might upset Bush.

11) Al Qaeda will not attack the US this year.

12) Al Qaeda will try an awful, spectacular attack on US troops in Iraq. Remember Lebanon in 1983? (Hopefully it will fail.)

13) CIA Director George Tenet – the lone Clinton holdover in the Bush cabinet – will survive for yet another year.

14) There will be new revelations of CIA – and intelligence community – scandal this year. Ignoring good intelligence and relying on bad intelligence will be seen as the prevalent way of doing business in DC.

15) 2004’s Biggest Losers will be John Kerry, Joe Lieberman, Richard Gephardt and John Edwards.

16) They will all fade away from public view – forever.

17) Hillary Clinton will maintain her hold on the hearts and minds of the Democrat Party rank and file.

18) The Presidential election will have several major twists and turns before it is over. Bush should prevail.

Happy New Year!!!