Tuesday, October 8, 2002

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Edwards, Gore, and Nunn

Twelve years ago, the Great Democratic Hope for president was Sam Nunn. He was the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, he was considered a "hawk," and he was from the South. The 1992 Democratic presidential nomination was his for the asking.

Then he voted against the Gulf War. He believed that given time, the U.N. sanctions against Iraq would work.

The result? Nunn's reputation was tarnished. Another Southern senator who voted for the Gulf War and was also considered an expert of defense issues supplanted Nunn -- Al Gore.

Now it appears that John Edwards is trying to steal a page from Gore's playbook. We know where Gore stands on Iraq -- whatever the administration is proposing must be wrong. Edwards' position on Iraq is both supportive of the overall policy while making it clear that he thinks the process of building allied support for an attack could have been handled better. His term "gratuitous unilateralism" perfectly ecapsulates the media Zeitgeist, which ensures greater media exposure. Leaking the speech to the Washington Post ensured media play without stealing the President's thunder, as Andrew Sullivan notes.

Substantively, there is not a lot of difference between what Gore and Edwards are saying. What's different is that Edwards ultimately supports the decision to attack sooner rather than later while Gore thinks... we should wait and give the sanctions time to work.

If a war on Iraq plays out well, Sam Nunn will be welcoming Al Gore to the Old Democratic Hopefuls Home for some games of shuffleboard and Diplomacy. Meanwhile, Edwards notes, "This is the first of three speeches outlining ways to strengthen America at home and abroad. In the coming weeks, I will talk about what kind of leadership we need to get our economy back on track and focus on ways to strengthen education in America."

There are some people who just give off the whiff of being smart about politics. Edwards definitely has the scent.

posted by Dan on 10.08.02 at 08:44 AM