Tuesday, June 22, 2004

The Veepstakes Reaches Fever Pitch

TheDrudgereport declares today, joyously, "Terry McAuliffe, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, favors John Edwards for the second slot on the party's presidential ticket, tops sources tell the DRUDGE REPORT.

"In recent days, McAuliffe, who initially favored Edwards for the second slot in 2000, has been confiding in associates how the North Carolina senator is the strongest contender to lift Kerry to complete victory in the fall."

While this will probably exert mild pressure on the moribund Kerry campaign (The Corsair yawns) to make a decision, like -- shnell, we cannot fail to note what the excellent Page Six reported recently:

"WE weren't totally accurate in predicting three months ago that Sen. John Kerry would dump Terry McAuliffe as chairman of the Democratic National Committee. McAuliffe continues to hold the title. But sources say Kerry has installed John Sasso, a loyalist from Boston, as his key man at the DNC. 'No checks are written until Sasso signs off. No decisions are made until Sasso says so,' said one Democrat. 'Terry McAuliffe was told to take it, or take a hike. And he's taking it.' McAuliffe, a multimillionaire from Syracuse, was hand-picked by Bill Clinton and has remained under the influence of Sen. Hillary Clinton. Sasso was a top advisor to Michael Dukakis and then a lobbyist in Beantown. 'He is totally loyal to Kerry,' said our source."

So, McAuliffe can only exert mild but not crucial force on the party. As a countervailing force, however, Hans Nichols of the Hill today reports, "longtime loyalists of Rep. Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.) are whipping up signatures on their own letter to Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), urging the presumptive Democratic nominee to choose the former minority leader as his vice-presidential candidate.

"Drafted in response to a secretive letter by 22 supporters of Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.), the Gephardt partisans said they wanted to show the Kerry campaign of Gephardt�?s deep support among a cross-section of his House colleagues.

"Late last week, Reps. Gene Green (D-Texas) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) wrote separate letters to the Kerry campaign and then took them to the floor to gather signatures in support of their onetime leader."

Fuck. This cannot be good. A Midwest strategy is flawed: labor is not as powerful as it once was -- look at how Kerry and Edwards punked out the labor-supported Dean and Gephardt in Iowa. Labor -- as a political lobby -- is in decline. That having been said, I have to give the edge right now to Gephardt, who is a good man, but a magnum of chloroform. Just typing his name made me sleepy. And the Kerry campaign is, to borrow from Michiko Kakutani, "sloppy, self-indulgent and eye-crossingly dull." Gephardt is an honest decent man, but he is not the man Kerry needs. Kerry himself is, next to Al Gore, one of the worst Democratic campaigners. he needs a fireball, and Edwards is that fireball.

I give the edge to labor darling Gephardt, however, because of the union problems that could proveembarrassingg at the Democratic convention in Boston, as the Globe says:

"It is a scene out of old Boston, old labor, old politics. You can smell the cigar smoke, even though no one is actually smoking one. You can imagine the leg-breaking, even if none actually takes place. It is the kind of old-fashioned, old-style labor politics that turns off young and independent voters. Could the timing be worse? At the very moment the nation is celebrating the memory of a president who stared down labor in the form of air traffic controllers, Democrats are celebrating union thugs?

"The stand-off between the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association and the City of Boston is not just a problem for Menino. It is a microcosm of a larger problem for Democrats. It showcases their longstanding genuflection to labor, no matter how bad labor makes the party look."

Gephardt could be a concession to the labor bosses to stand down.

Still, the Veepstakes is hott, especially considering the new USA Today editorial to axe Cheney in favor of the usual suspects -- Giuliani, Powell and McCain (hot damn, would a McCain Veep candidacy fuck up John Kerry's universe in generalandd the Democratic southwest strategy specifically).

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