WASHINGTON -- For four decades the Northeast, like the Senate almost forever, has not been fertile ground for producing presidents. And in the 10 or so minutes required to savor this column, the center of the American population will have moved another 4 inches south and west. According to the Census Bureau, it is moving thither 2 feet an hour -- almost 3.5 miles a year.
Four of the five Democrats elected president since the Second World War were from Southern or border states. And the Northeastern senator at least went to the border region, to the banks of the Ohio River, for yet another ``major'' speech clarifying his position(s) on Iraq. John Kerry chose the Cincinnati venue where in October 2002 President Bush made his case for using against Iraq the force that Kerry voted to authorize.
In Cincinnati Kerry complained there was ``$200 billion for Iraq, but they tell us we can't afford after-school programs.'' Suppose Bush had responded:
Oh, so THAT is the problem. Why didn't you say so sooner? In the interest of wartime unity, I will support adding to the current $1 billion spent on after-school programs an additional $1.5 billion -- the amount you liberals say is needed. Now, senator, will you flip back to where you were 13 months ago when, talking about funding for the war, you said, we should 'increase it' and 'by whatever number of billions of dollars it takes to win'?
Kerry might then have, as liberals are wont to do, upped the ante. While the nation was reeling from the horrors of Beslan and Baghdad, he promised a North Carolina audience that as president he would create a new ``Department of Wellness'' to deal with problems such as house mold.
Better to talk about that menace than about those two votes he cast that seem to have been equally insincere. One authorized the use of force against Iraq. The second opposed $87 billion to fund coping with the consequences of force having been used. Kerry can say nothing in defense of the first vote that does not offend the intense Democratic activists who are disgusted by it. And he can say nothing in defense of the second vote -- his genuflection to those activists, made when Howard Dean was their pinup -- without offending an American majority.