The endless receding nightmare of the Iowa caucuses has finally produced something interesting: The Democrats have one hellacious catfight on their hands.
After all the hoopla about Howard Dean's new mass movement of "Deaniacs," it appears that blanketing Iowa with self-righteous 20-year-olds in orange wool caps may not have been the ideal campaign strategy. Dean's distant third-place finish makes you want to ask him the question Jack Nicholson put to his down-and-out gay neighbor in "As Good As It Gets": "What happened to your queer party-friends?"
At the behest of the Democratic Party establishment, the media dutifully destroyed Howard Dean, the legitimate leader of the opposition. Democratic voters are so obedient to the media, they followed their media puppet masters and instantly switched from Dean to John Kerry.
But Dean still has the money and foot soldiers and endorsements to stay in the fight for the foreseeable future. And being from Vermont, Dean should do well in New Hampshire. I went to a public school, but if I remember my high-school geography correctly, New Hampshire and Vermont are the same state.
Until Kerry won Iowa, Wesley Clark was viewed as the pre-eminent electable Democrat principally because he's a Republican. Howard Dean has already said he believes Clark is a fine fellow but truly a Republican. In response, Gen. Clark immediately put on a third sweater.
Sadly, it may turn out that Clark's whole raison d'etre is now gone. Never was so much money, media, chicanery, Gwyneth Paltrow, Madonna, conniving and Cabala deployed to promote a quote-unquote "electable" Democrat.
Clark was supposed to be the phony American to stop Dean, but Kerry is the even better phony American! And he's already stopped Dean in Iowa!
Kerry and Clark now represent the two major wings of the Democratic Party ? the Kennedy wing and the Clinton wing. One drowns you after the extramarital affair; the other one calls you a stalker.
Other than that, there isn't a hair's difference between any of the Democrats on any substantive issues.
All the Democrats are for higher taxes. All of them favor Hillary's socialist health-care plan. All of them are for higher pay for teachers and nurses ? and no pay at all for anyone in the pharmaceutical or oil industries, especially Halliburton executives, who should be sent to Guantanamo. All the Democrats believe the way to strike fear in the hearts of the terrorists is for the federal government to invest heavily in windmills.
All the Democrats oppose the war. And all the Democrats who took a position on the war before it began were for it, but now believe that everything Bush did from that moment forward has been bad! bad! bad! This is with the exception of Joe Lieberman who, as an observant Jew, is forbidden to backpedal after sundown on Fridays. Representing a large flabby chunk of the Kennedy wing, Ted Kennedy gave a speech last week in which he called the liberation of Iraq a "political product." Then again, Ted Kennedy calls Chivas Regal "that life-sustaining liquid."
Finally, all the candidates are willing to sell out any of these other issues in service of the secret burning desire of all Democrats: abortion on demand. If they could just figure out a way to abort babies using solar power, that's all we'd ever hear about.
For all his talk, even Dick Gephardt was willing to abandon blue-collar workers in a heartbeat. The Teamsters haven't asked for much, only two big votes in the past decade: (1) Oppose NAFTA, and (2) support drilling on a small, godforsaken patch of the Alaskan wilderness, as the people who actually live there have been begging us to do for decades. Like all the other Democrats, Gephardt voted against the Teamsters ? but with Barbra Streisand ? to oppose drilling in the godforsaken Alaskan wilderness.
When Gephardt entered politics he was pro-life. But then, like Al Gore, Jesse Jackson, Dennis Kucinich and scores of other Democrats with national ambitions, he quickly figured out that position wasn't, well ... viable. In short order he had adopted the whole NARAL party line. That's how you woo old-time union Democrats.
On Monday night, Gephardt was shocked to discover that blue-collar Democrats have gone the way of patriotic Democrats: They're all Republicans now. (But thanks for that NAFTA vote a decade ago!) You knew Gephardt was toast when even responsible journalists have started using words like "decent" and "solid" to describe the two-faced weasel from Missouri. Though I suppose "decent" has a pretty broad meaning in a party that still admires Bill Clinton.
The Iowa caucus was just another one of the Democrats' ongoing public debates about how to fake out the American people. Fifty percent of Iowa Democrats participating in the caucus said they "strongly disapprove" of the war with Iraq and another 25 percent "somewhat disapprove."
But more important to Democrats than their pacifism was "electability." The entire Iowa electorate was committed to the proposition: How do we fool the neighbors? In the end, the caucus-goers chose a decorated war hero who voted in favor of the very war that 75 percent of them oppose. So much for the anti-war fever sweeping the country. The Democrats aren't even man enough to run a genuine coward for president.