Here the Democrats are virtually conceding that foreign policy is the main issue and that their main candidate is inferior to the president concerning it. What they don't say is that all of their candidates are equally inferior.
And they're wrong about why Dean (and they) can't compete. It's not because he doesn't have foreign policy experience. Neither did President Bush before he became president. And it's not because he has no military experience. George Bush's foreign policy prowess and his proficiencies as commander in chief have nothing to do with his military experience.
What makes President Bush the best wartime leader are his moral clarity, his decisiveness, his willingness to confront evil in the world, and his determination to place America's security and the American people's safety above his political interests. Try as they might, bluster as they will, none of the Democrats has a chance of convincing the voters they are better equipped in this department.
Though Congressman Gephardt denies being behind the ad, it was reportedly financed at least partially by the labor unions that so strongly support him. The group sponsoring the ads is "Americans for Jobs, Health Care and Progressive Values." The group's spokesman, Robert Gibbs, stood by the ad, saying, "The discussion about foreign policy experience is one that we need to be conducting now, before we get any further into the campaign. That was the ad's intent, and that was accomplished."
While that may be true, it's a risky gambit for the anti-Dean Democrats, who by airing it reveal their desperation. This message plays right into President Bush's hands, because it's an overt admission that national security is the pivotal issue and that President Bush is an able guardian over it.
Absent another calamity -- God forbid -- or a scandal against George Bush (the makings of which exist only in the minds of these Democrats), the Democrats are going to have a very difficult time.