Saturday, April 08, 2006

Tom Hayden: Kerry Steps Up

Tom Hayden writes at the Huffington Post that, “Sen. John Kerry’s call for a withdrawal from Iraq, published last Sunday in the New York Times, is the strongest anti-war stand yet taken by a national Democratic leader.” He calls on other Democrats to back Kerry’s position. He also wonders how this will play out in the 2008 primaries, countering the conventional wisdom (which was also wrong in 2003) to count Kerry out:

No one can be certain, but the primary winds are blowing in the direction of peace and progressive politics. Sen. Hillary Clinton, the seemingly invincible front-runner, is not likely to emerge from Iowa and New Hampshire unscathed. Her hardline support of the Iraq War is not only mistaken and immoral, but appears to many voters as chronic opportunism. Unless the war suddenly ends, her credibility will suffer severely in the primaries.

This is why the “Kerry factor” becomes important. As the former nominee, Kerry commands media and public attention. As an anti-war voice, he is in sharp contrast with the silence of the lambs. As a potential presidential contender, he is a credible foil to the centrist hawks and challenges the party leaderhip to make up its mind.

Hayden is critical of both Democrats who are not demanding peace as Kerry is, and of the portions of the anti-war movement which attack Kerry for not going far enough, such as those who want to leave now:

However, the war is not likely to end either “now” or in December. The debate is about competing visions and scenarios, not the calendar. Kerry’s proposal will draw support from millions of voters hungry for withdrawal and despondent over Bush’s 2004 victory. It helps ensure that Iraq will be an issue in politics and the media despite those who prefer denial and avoidance.


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