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Perception is not necessarily reality.  Manufactured perceptions are, by definition, artificial and usually meant to deceive, to drive a point, to head off a different view.  Dan Balz in The Washington Post on Sunday wrote about the apparent strength of Hillary and Barack as Democratic Presidential candidates, obviously from the point of view of the seemingly large number who have declared an intent to intend and then backed out ... people like Mark Warner, Evan Bayh, Russ Feingold, and perhaps a couple others.

Make no mistake, I am not in favor of either Hillary or Barack getting the Democratic nomination.  Neither would be bad Presidents, however, although Hillary could easily fall prey to the center mongering that Republicans constantly say is a sine qua non of a successful Democrat ... (Please!  Who believes these pundits on CNN and Fox!) ..., and Barack is an untested, unmeasured quantity whose strong quality is a sort of Joan d'Arc purity that appeals very strongly to a very jaded and still very confused populace.

It is way too early to be anointing prospects as the winning candidate, and the press should be much more careful in its manner of presenting facts about these and any other candidates.  The Post is looking for a non-Leftist and a person with a declared interest in non-wimpy foreign policy, and this befits the Post well as many of its D.C. area readers are significant members of the military establishment.

The fact is that "wimpy" is an RNC term applied most successfully to President Jimmy Carter, who correctly understood that a war against Iran in 1980 would be bloody, probably prompt the use of nuclear weapons, involve the decrepit Soviet Union, who would view it as an unacceptable encroachment near their Caspian border.  Carter was not "wimpy," but he let himself be tarred with that brush and so have several Democrats whose ideas about foreign policy are not easily understood by the third-grade level of discourse put out on television in those and these days.

Hillary has assiduously cultivated the notion that she is a hard-liner, no-nonsense, take-a-stand-and-fight sort of gal.  Barack has no experience whatsoever, and please do not tell me a visit to the Green Zone in Baghdad is experience unless it is a year-long tour of duty there.

The fact is that those who have declared an intention to intend have quickly found out that most large contributions are either unwilling to commit this early in the situation.  And, I don't blame them.  It is much too early to be pressing peoples' buttons for campaign cash.  The Democrats have to acquit themselves in the House and Senate and have to show some signs of willingness to stand up against Bush's war and the corruption that stems from it before anyone in their right mind will make big commitments to relatively unknown persons to run for President.

Hillary is definitely running, but Barack is not.  He may find himself on the ticket as V.P. candidate of choice of several different front-runners, however.  If he does anything in the Senate in the next twelve months it will be good for him to take on a serious and contentious issue and win it.  Until he has had that experience he is not Executive material in Washington, Springfield, or anywhere else.


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James R. Brett, Ph.D. taught Russian History before (and during) a long stint as an academic administrator in faculty research administration. His academic interests are the modern period of Russian History since Peter the Great, Chinese (more...)

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