George Will

Two Democratic presidential candidates with national campaign experience are stumbling. A Republican candidate who has run only municipal campaigns is confounding expectations, calling into question some assumptions about Republican voters.

John Edwards has learned -- surely he did not know it when they were hired -- that two women employed by his campaign have Internet trails of vitriolic anti-Christian, and especially anti-Catholic, rants. One of them wrote a profane screed about God impregnating Mary, and said the Catholic Church opposes the morning-after birth control pill in order to "force women to bear more tithing Catholics.'' The other woman, who sprinkles her commentary with a vulgar term for female genitalia, referred to George W. Bush's "wingnut Christofascist base.''

When the women's works became known, it was reported that they were, or were going to be, fired. Thirty-six hours later, after left-wing bloggers rallied to their defense, Edwards' campaign said they would be retained. Edwards explained that the women had assured him that ``it was never their intention to malign anyone's faith, and I take them at their word.''

He really does? The two women -- both of whom have resigned, pronouncing themselves, of course, victims of intolerance -- are what they are, and are unimportant. But the fact that a prospective president is so pliable under pressure, and so capable of smarmy insincerity -- what does he think

were the women's intentions? -- is very important.

In New Hampshire recently, Sen. Hillary Clinton said, "Now that we have a Democratic president ... '' Quickly correcting this slip, she said she meant "a Democratic Congress,'' but added: ``If we had a Democratic president, we would end the war.''

Well. She and others say they can "end the war.'' That phrase is a flinch from facts. They mean they can end U.S. involvement in the war. No one believes the United States has the power to prevent the war from raging on.

But if a Democratic president would implement withdrawal, the Democratic Congress could, by forbidding further spending to sustain forces in Iraq. So why is Clinton, who says that a Democratic president would properly withdraw U.S. forces, not voting for a policy she considers proper?

George Will

George F. Will is a 1976 Pulitzer Prize winner whose columns are syndicated in more than 400 magazines and newspapers worldwide.
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