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Washington is always abuzz with silly rumors. The latest? Dick Cheney may step aside as George W. Bush’s running mate for November’s election. The pretext? Health problems. The replacement? Senator John McCain from Arizona.
On Friday July 16, McCain met up with Cheney in Michigan as he was on a swing to garner funds for Bush’s re-election campaign. If indeed the rumor is accurate, the changing of the guard may happen within the next month, just in time for the Republican National Convention in New York City, which is scheduled for the end of August. But mark my word. It ain’t gonna happen.
The White House has attempted to squash any and all speculation. And in a White House press conference this week, Scott McClellan said all the talk was just “rumor-mongering.” And added that he “think[s] the president made his views very clear,” and Dick Cheney will be his running mate.
This time around you can trust that shyster McClellan. Although it would be an interesting move for Bush to bring on John McCain, or even Colin Powell as some have suggested, it is unlikely to occur with Karl Rove running the show.
Although McCain is hugely popular in his home state of Arizona, a vital swing state for Bush, so is ol’ Dick. And unlike the Democrats, Republicans rarely pander to swing voters, and instead worry about energizing their loony conservative base. It’s the Democrats who continue to lose, as they incessantly shift right under the guidance of their party bigwigs. Notice Kerry’s defense of the Israeli wall, exclusion of Dennis Kucinich’s antiwar plank, and NATO’s future involvement in Iraq if he’s elected. We’ve got ourselves a Clinton poser here, and it’s disgusting.
In a Democratic Leadership Council memo following the announcement of the John-John ticket, they basked, “Kerry and Edwards are New Democrat stalwarts. Both are “Blair Democrats” who supported the use of force in Iraq and advocate a tough-minded internationalism in foreign relations. Both have strong centrist records of support for fiscal discipline, middle-class tax cuts, and work-based welfare reform … Indeed, New Democrats couldn’t ask for a stronger team than Kerry and Edwards.”
This is all a clear indication that progressives who live in swing states should scurry to the local Ralph Nader campaign office, and volunteer immediately. Progressive Democrats too. Force Nader to run hard. Push Kerry to either champion progressive causes, or lose. Tell the DLC that their tactics don’t win elections — they lose them. Make it clear that it is Kerry’s fault in the end — which it will be — for he doesn’t represent you. Don’t let the Democratic Party take you for granted. Because they will. And they do.
Does this mean the Democrats must be abolished? Certainly they’ll deserve it if they continue to embrace right of center politics.
This brings us back to Cheney. Unless he dies of a heart attack, he’ll be in the race come November. Count on it. Rove won’t let him go. Because he knows that McCain’s centrist positions would never make for a lively debate with smooth talking Edwards. He’ll let the Democrats move right. In fact he encourages it. For he knows when they do, voters would rather vote for the real thing every time. And in the end it won’t be Nader who “threw the election.” It’ll be Kerry. How many more loses do they need before they get it?
JOSHUA FRANK, a contributor to CounterPunch’s forthcoming book, A Dime’s Worth of Difference: Beyond the Lesser of Two Evils, is putting the finishing touches on Left Out: How Liberals did Bush’s Work for Him, to be published by Common Courage Press. He welcomes comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.