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The Antithesis of Bush
August 7, 2003
By Michael D. Guss

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I am a moderate Democrat that opposed the war in Iraq. I won't get into my personal beliefs, but I will say that I'm definitely not a "leftist." Recently, some of my fellow moderate Democrats have been running around like chickens that have spotted a guillotine.

They claim that we cannot win if we nominate someone who will stand on their true beliefs. They are flat wrong. Poll after poll (and supposedly the moderate Democrats who are complaining value winning above anything else) show that Americans want national health insurance, a reduced presence in Iraq, a focus on the real enemy - Osama bin Laden - an end to corporate tax cuts, and a real economic stimulus plan.

But many Democrats have been too timid on these issues. They believe that challenging the Bush would be politically devastating.

I once campaigned very hard for a politician who isn't the world's greatest speaker. On Election Day people told me, "He's a great guy, but he's not up to it." That candidate lost, and so will George W. Bush.

In my view, there are three candidates that have stood up to Bush and offered real plans of their own.

Howard Dean is an aggressive - and creative - candidate that has not missed an opportunity to give Bush the treatment he deserves. His temperament remains an issue, and the difficulties of the campaign will determine if he can be a successful candidate.

John Kerry is an adept politician, a courageous veteran and a solid US senator. He led the fight to keep oil slicks out of the ANWR nature preserve, and - though he voted for the war - he has been critical of the president's mishandling of the Iraqi situation. His weakness seems to be public speaking, but I'm sure he will improve at that over the course of the campaign.

Sen. Bob Graham voted against the war in Iraq. Graham dealt with budgets when he was Florida's Governor, and he has a good record as a US senator. He has a solid plan for economic recovery and keeping Social Security solvent. Additionally, he has the experience to turn a plan into policy. He has lagged on fundraising, but that can change in time.

As Democrats, we should vigorously support whomever wins the nomination in the General Election. All three men I mentioned would do a good job as president. But in this primary, we have to choose between the better of three goods. I seriously considered supporting John Kerry, and I voted for Howard Dean in the on-line primary. But I have decided to support Bob Graham in the 2004 Democratic Primary.

I support Sen. Graham because he is the antithesis of George W. Bush. He is an experienced politician that has seen - and solved - many problems over the years. He has experience in important domestic arenas, and he has (by virtue of being a senator) experience on foreign policy. He served on the Congressional committee that investigated the 9-11 attacks, and he has good suggestions for preventing another awful day.

Sen. Graham has a good economic stimulus plan. He voted against the recent Bush hand-out to the rich, and he proposes instituting a temporary reduction in the payroll tax. Unlike Bush's proposals, Graham's plan would reduce the tax burden for working families. Graham's plan would put money in working families' pockets (a tremendously important thing when the economy is on the cusp of deflation).

Finally, I believe that Sen. Graham is the only candidate that can bridge the gulf between the liberal and moderate wings of the party. The liberal wing of the party wants a candidate that voted against the war. The moderate wing of the party wants a candidate that it can sell to soccer moms in the suburbs. I believe Sen. Graham can appeal to both liberals and moderates.

I hope that we all realize that defeating George W. Bush should be the goal. Some of us will probably disagree on whom to support in the primary. That's okay in my opinion. But I hope that we can all work together to make the 2004 Democratic nominee the 44th President of the United States.

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