Democrats Fight for the Right to be Their Party's Sacrificial Lamb

By Doug Patton

Last Saturday, all nine Democrat candidates – four senators, a former senator, two congressmen, a former governor and a charlatan from New York City – gathered in South Carolina to fight over who will be their party's sacrificial lamb in next year's presidential election.

Let us analyze them one at a time.

Elected in 1992, Carol Moseley Braun served one term in the United States Senate. As the first black woman ever elected to that body, she was a novelty, but she was also an embarrassment to the people of Illinois, who chose not to send her back for a second term. Now, she thinks she is qualified to be president because, in her words, “we've never had a black or a woman in that job before.”

When Ms. Braun was asked about her major in college, she said, “Gee, it was probably Political Science, but it might have been History...I haven't really thought about it in a while.” Feel free to draw your own conclusions about whether she is qualified to be Commander-in-Chief.

Howard Dean believes in same-sex marriage and backed it up when he was governor of Vermont by signing a law giving legal status to the partnerships of homosexuals, thereby wreaking havoc with state laws across the country on the recognition of marriage.

He also recently said, “America will not always be superior in military power.”

Sen. John Edwards is the most attractive of the nine. He is from North Carolina, which takes the liberal edge off his candidacy. But because Edwards is still in his first term in the Senate, he could be perceived as too inexperienced. And the fact that he made millions as a trial lawyer before being elected could become serious baggage when the 30-second attack ads start to fly.

Dick Gephardt of Missouri ran for president in 1988. He did not do well. He served as Majority Leader in the House of Representatives. During his watch, the Democrats lost control of the House for the first time in 40 years, thereby making him Minority Leader.

One reason for that 1994 defeat was an attempt by Hillary Clinton to create a draconian system of government-controlled health care. Last Saturday, Gephardt proposed a similar plan. Of course, he wants to raise our taxes to do it.

Sen. Bob Graham of Florida is not dynamic or exciting, but Republicans have underestimated him in the past. He is considered to be a centrist who has served as both governor and senator from a state crucial to the election of any modern president. If the Democrats were smart, they would nominate him, but they won’t.

Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts married the widow of another Senator, John Heinz, of the food empire. If the Kerrys decide to “use the ketchup money,” as Gephardt has dryly remarked, it could literally buy the Senator the nomination. And even though he is aloof and arrogant, he is also a Vietnam combat veteran and appears statuesque on television.

Dennis Kucinich is a little-known congressman from Ohio who will not raise enough money to make it to the first primaries. He knows it. The party knows it. Think of him as John Kasich without the experience or the charisma.

Currently, some polls show Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut as the frontrunner, simply because he was Al Gore’s running mate. But Lieberman lost respect in the eyes of many voters during that campaign. Long known as a moral, sensible, middle-of-the-road Democrat, Lieberman seemed to jettison virtually all his values to get his name on the 2000 ticket.

Finally, there is Rev. Al Sharpton. A verbose buffoon who looks and sounds like a stereotype straight out of an old episode of “Amos and Andy,” he is an even greater embarrassment to black voters than Carol Moseley Braun.

He is also the Democrats’ worst nightmare, because he has the potential to disrupt their primaries all over this country.

Personally, I can’t wait.


Doug Patton is a freelance columnist who has served as a political speechwriter and public policy advisor at the federal, state and local levels. His weekly columns can be read in newspapers across the country, and on, where he serves as the Nebraska Editor. He also writes for Talon News Service. Readers can e-mail him at

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