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Jewish World Review Oct. 24, 2003 / 28 Tishrei, 5764

Tom Purcell

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A sorry bunch | Barbara Bush was right.

During a Dateline interview last week, she said she wasn't happy about the things Democratic presidential candidates were saying about her son. She said they were a sorry bunch.

The truth of the matter is that Democrats running for president are saying some outrageous things with the hopes of grabbing the public's interest, but they're not making much headway.

At a time when the president's tax cuts are starting to revive the economy, most want to repeal them. At a time when we are in the middle of an aggressive war on terrorism, they are saying we should come home.

You could read what lots of pundits have to say about Democrats and the presidential candidates in general. But if you want to know what these fellows, and lady, are really up to, a more reliable source is our late night comedians.

Perhaps one reason Democrats aren't getting traction is because the shadow of Bill Clinton still looms large over their party.

"President Clinton is now denying that he is endorsing General Wesley Clark," says Jay Leno. "Do you know the difference between General Clark and Clinton? The general knows how to control his privates."

David Letterman is even more pointed about the Clinton factor:

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"Wesley Clark is being coached by former President Clinton. I believe this is the first time a general is being advised by a pot-smoking draft dodger."

Clinton is warning his Democratic colleagues not to stray too far left, but Howard Dean isn't listening. Dean, a self-declared anti-war liberal, is attacking his competitors for being too hawkish. But still his message isn't getting traction.

"Howard Dean is a politician, a medical doctor and a Democrat," says Jay Leno. "So he has three reasons to tell women to take off their clothes now."

Congressman Dennis Kucinich is far to the left of Dean, and his message isn't getting out, either. Conan O'Brien sums up his presidential hopes.

"Last night, during the Democratic debates, candidate Dennis Kucinich said he would stop the death penalty, cut the defense budget and set up a Department of Peace. Kucinich made the remark in response to the question 'Why is it you have no chance of winning?'"

Senator John Edwards is really having trouble getting his message out. He's the most photogenic and likable of all the candidates, an important factor in presidential elections, but nobody is listening.

"John Edwards announced for president on September 16th," says Leno. "This is what I love about this election: if no one listens to you the first 40 times you announce, just announce again."

Poor Dick Gephardt is getting nowhere, even though his father was a milkman and he promises to soak the rich. Letterman explains why.

"Are you ready for some exciting news? Dick Gephardt is running for president - all right, settle down. Gephardt ran once before for president in 1988, but he was no match for the irresistible charm and charisma of Michael Dukakis."

Leno adds to Gephardt's woes.

"Democratic Presidential candidate Dick Gephardt fell short of his fundraising goal by $1 million. His goal was to try and raise $1 million."

Despite being one of the more centrist candidates in the campaign, Joe Lieberman isn't being heard either.

"Joe Lieberman announced yesterday that he's running for president," says Leno. "He made the announcement at his old high school. Out of force of habit, the kids gave him a wedgie and broke his glasses."

And then there is John Kerry. He comes across as a snooty upper class fellow. And he looks French. But not even the late-night comedians are paying attention to him. I couldn't find one joke on him.

In any event, it appears the majority of Americans agree with Barbara Bush. The Democrats running for president are good at vitriol, but short on a clear plan for America in the midst of our war on terror. But don't take my word for it. Listen to Leno.

"According to a new CBS poll, 66 percent of Americans cannot name a single Democratic candidate running for president. The other 34 percent are Democratic candidates running for president."

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© 2002, Tom Purcell