The Democrat road map to peace

Posted: Jun 06, 2003 12:00 AM

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- President George W. Bush has been working hard to make the world a more peaceful place. He launched Operation Enduring Freedom, which tossed the Taliban from power in Afghanistan, and he's got Osama bin Laden's band of terrorists on the run, rounding them up one by one. In Iraq, Saddam Hussein no longer rules, his people have been liberated and the dictator's threat has been neutralized.

Even in the Middle East, President Bush pushed Yasser Arafat, the terrorist leader of the Palestinians, to the sidelines, and this week presided over historic negotiations in which Arab leaders denounced "the culture of extremism and violence" and professed a desire to "continue to fight the scourge of terrorism against humanity," while Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon promised cooperation in the creation of a Palestinian state.

Ironically, peace seems possible in the Middle East -- the most volatile cauldron of animosity and violence in the world -- but elusive inside the Democrat Party, where unified opposition to the majority party would seem a natural. But the president's success overseas and tax relief victory at home have contributed to his consistently high approval ratings and left the Left in a state of disrepair.

With their predictions on Iraq proven wrong, liberal Hollywood critics have exited stage left. It's curtains for one of the Democrats' big money mavens, Martha Stewart. The chief disseminators of liberal propaganda -- The New York Times and CNN -- have fallen on hard times. The likelihood of recapturing a majority in either the House or the Senate grows more distant each day and has left Terry McAuliffe's troops in a funk or in the unemployment line. A bitter battle rages within the ranks of organized labor and the Democrat Leadership Council is criticizing challengers to President Bush as coming from the "McGovern-Mondale wing" of the party, which is "defined principally by weakness abroad and elitist, interest-group liberalism at home."

Two of those challengers, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and ex-Governor Howard Dean, D-Vt., are flaunting their liberal bona fides trying to win the hearts of the "McGovern-Mondale" activists who dominate Democrat primaries. It is a bitter public dispute in which William Jefferson Clinton has unsuccessfully tried to play peacemaker, and in the latest twist, Dean has accused Kerry of stealing his speech material. With Dean tagging Kerry as a plagiarist, Delaware Sen. Joe Biden has been inspired to reconsider his chances of getting into the race.

In the meantime, Dennis Kucinich, Bob Graham, Al Sharpton, Dick Gephardt, Joe Lieberman, et al. are kicking and screaming for attention from a national media that doesn't care about their numerous proposals to expand the size, scope and cost of government.

But why doesn't the media care? Two reasons. First, they love to concentrate on the "horse race" -- who's up, who's down and who makes "good copy." Unfortunately, none of the Democrat Nine fit the bill. They're boring. They're uninteresting and uninspiring. Second, the media loves to handicap races far in advance. And in an unprecedented forecasting of elections to come, the media have decided to skip the 2004 campaign for president and begin speculating on the 2008 race. And on that note, Mr. and Mrs. William Jefferson Rodham Clinton are all too happy to cooperate.

Never bashful about self-advancement, Hillary is stealing all the Democrat's attention with her $8 million memoir Living History, which Democrat strategist Donna Brazile calls "an important launching pad" for her 2008 campaign for president. The book is yet another step toward winning that prize and exorcising the ghost of "that woman, Miss Lewinsky" from the Oval Office. Brazile expects Hillary to "lay out her platform and values," but at 576 pages and an initial print run of one million copies, it is clear that the preservation of the Rain Forest is no longer a top priority for Mrs. Rodham-Clinton.

But hold on. Hillary's electoral roadmap is complicated by the fact that Mr. Rodham Clinton has no intention of baking cookies in the White House galley. He is just as eager for self-advancement. Was the self-described "Comeback Kid" warning of another White House run when he demanded the repeal of the 22nd Amendment at a forum in Boston two weeks ago? If so, it would set up one heck of a primary. The Donald vs. Ivana; Kramer vs. Kramer; Mike Tyson vs. Don King. These famous feuds won't hold a candle to Clinton vs. Clinton.

The loyalties of Carville, Begala, Blumenthal, Vernon Jordan and Barbra Streisand will all be tested. "The War Room" will move from the Clinton's bedroom into prime-time. Reality TV meets C-SPAN. Buddy must be happily howling from Doggy Heaven that he won't have to play a part in it.

But in fact, it's already begun. Once again the Clintons are trying to steal the limelight from their fellow Democrats and from each other. Their public disputes -- first aired in Hers and His memoirs -- is taking center stage, and the party of McGovern and Mondale is suffering on the sidelines. Clearly the Democrat Road Map to Peace must first go through Chappaqua.