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2004 Presidential Campaign


Stateside With Rosalea

2004 Presidential Campaign

By Rosalea Barker

The plumber from Des Moines. Not.

During the last presidential election campaign I lamented that the reality of US politics is that the likelihood of a plumber from Des Moines, Iowa, becoming president is extremely low. Obviously, that state of affairs puts the lie to one of the great myths about democracy here - that any natural-born US citizen meeting the age and residency requirements of Article 2 of the US constitution can become president.

Nonetheless, it was from Des Moines this morning that one of the Democratic hopefuls for president was interviewed on CBS's Face the Nation. The reason for (Florida) Senator Bob Graham being in Iowa is simple: it is one of three states that hold early primary elections, so he was there pumping the flesh. Among the 400-plus jobs he's made it a point to do for a day in his long political career, plumbing may well be included, so I guess he's the closest we'll get to my mythical candidate.

Senator Graham made a fine showing on FTN this Mothers Day, looking like just the kind of Dad you'd hope your Mom had. The combination of a soft pink shirt and hard stars-and-stripes tie, I'm sure, spoke volumes to those in the Democratic party who want someone to make them feel safe but not sorry that their safety is being attained at the expense of other people's misery. Graham opposed the intervention in Iraq on the grounds that it took resources away from the international war on terrorism.

He even went so far on the program as to accuse the Bush administration of a cover-up by not releasing the report - completed several months ago - of the joint Senate and House committee inquiry into the events of 9/11. Because of his service chairing intelligence committees, Graham's voice can resonate with authority when he says that the shift in focus from the war on terror - which he says the military downgraded to a manhunt about 18 months ago - allowed Al Qaeda to regroup and events like the Bali bombing to occur.

I was surprised by this morning's interview. In last week's debate, the moderator had pointed out a lot of people were saying Graham would be a good running mate - i.e. that he was vice presidential material only - and during the week I'd seen an opinion piece strongly suggesting that he should stick to being a senator. However, a commentator from Time magazine who was on FTN pointed out that Graham is like a Swiss army knife, with many useful attributes and past experiences each capable of cutting into the support of several other candidates who have only one of those qualifications.

In short, it was a very strong start out of the gate, but there's a couple of miles yet to be run with many hurdles along the way - some of them even now being constructed in the barns of rival Democratic presidential hopefuls, no doubt! But if Graham can maintain the image of being a man unafraid to get his hands dirty alongside the common people of this nation, while having, at the same time, an intimate knowledge of how to keep them safe, he is well on the way to securing the Democratic presidential nomination.

Of course, that still doesn't make him a plumber from Des Moines. Graham - a primary author of the USA PATRIOT Act - is the son of a senator, and a Harvard man. Phew! I guess that means he doesn't belong to the exclusive Yale "Skull and Bones Society", as rival Democratic Senator Kerry from Massachusetts purportedly does - along with President George W. Bush.

On a more delicate note... I'm sorry the host of Face the Nation referred to continuing "our interviews with the various men seeking the Democratic nomination." As far as I can tell from a Mothers Day story in the Chicago Sun-Times, Carol Moseley-Braun is still in the race.

For a 2000 presidential campaign story about GWB and the Skull and Bones Society see http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/2000/05/robbins.htm

And for the conspiracy theories about the society and purported membership lists see http://www.ctrl.org/boodleboys/

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