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October 17, 2005

The AP tries its hand at political analysis tonight, looking ahead three years to the Democratic primaries and the impact that the Iraq War will have on potential candidates. Despite the anti-war zealots taking John Kerry on their shoulders after his 'yea' vote on the Iraq resolution -- and despite the continued good news from the Iraqis -- Liz Sidoti thinks that supporting votes for the war resolution may torpedo presidential campaigns in 2008:

Potential Democratic presidential candidates who voted to give President Bush the authority to use force in Iraq could face a political problem they supported a war that their party's rank-and-file now strongly view as a mistake.

Their pro-war votes cast three years ago could haunt them as they seek early support among die-hard Democrats and gauge whether to launch formal candidacies for the party's 2008 presidential nomination.

"For a lot of activists, this could be a threshold issue. They may be looking for somebody without any taint for prior support for the war," said John J. Pitney, a political science professor at Claremont McKenna College in California.

While no one would lose money underestimating the sophistication of antiwar voters in Democratic primaries, this argument has already been largely disproven in 2004, when Bush Derangement Syndrome ran at its highest. When Howard Dean flamed out in Iowa and Kerry took command of the Democratic primaries, the antiwar activists showed little compunction about supporting the former antiwar activist for President. Kerry couldn't even give a straight answer as to whether he would still have voted for the resolution in the summer of 2004, and that came before the Iraqis held two elections, both of which featured better turnout than most American national elections.

Now that the Iraqis have held those two elections and will hold a third under their new constitution in two more months, Sidoti expects a vote authorizing the war and its liberation of 24 million Iraqis to present a hurdle that even Hillary Clinton may not overcome for the nomination. If the authorization presented little resistance for Kerry while the issue remained in doubt, then Clinton could -- and should -- run on her prescience in voting for the military action.

Sidoti may correctly predict that these Democrats will not rush to raise the subject in the primaries. However, if the Democrats make an issue of a war that liberated the millions of Iraqis who walked proudly purple-fingered from polling stations all over their country this weekend, establishing a beachhead of democracy in the middle of Southwest Asia with a loss of less than 2,000 American soldiers, then it will only prove to Americans how out of touch that party has become on foreign policy.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 17, 2005 9:57 PM

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