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By TERRI K. KIONKA  Posted by Rob Kall (about the submitter)     Permalink
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John Kerry was not a perfect candidate. And, John Kerry was not my chosen candidate in the election of 2004. But once the Democrat Party nominated him, I supported his candidacy and got upset with Democrats who criticized him during the campaign. It seemed to me that liberals needed to cultivate the unity which now characterizes the Republican party --a weird coalition of strange political bedfellows. Imperfect though Kerry was, I believed that he would make a good president. Now that the election is over and 2006 is looming before us, I hate to see Democrats beating up on each other too much, because I also believe we don't really know that Kerry wasn't elected. For all we know, maybe the Democrats did get a lot of things right.

What we know for sure, in retrospect, is that we have to be really tough against the Republicans. Howard Dean seems like a good starting point, although, again, he isn't perfect. On that note, I was disappointed in some negative coverage of Dean 's appearance on "Face the Nation " that ran on liberal news sites. One article took issue with "The Howler 's " piece entitled "Dean Gets It, " and claimed that Dean was encouraging Democrats to lie in order to counter the Republicans. That is simply inaccurate. A careful reading (or observation) of the interview reveals that Dean specifically said Democrats need to tell the truth. He said Democrats can win by telling the truth and outing Republican lies. We need to call the Republicans ' misrepresentations immediately and give the voters the truth. This, unfortunately, is the strategy that Kerry (or, perhaps, his campaign manager) neglected to implement.

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In another liberal-bashing column, Norman Solomon wrote a scathing critique of Frank Rich 's fine article entreating someone to tell Bush that the war in Iraq is over. First, it 's hard to understand Solomon 's objective in criticizing a fellow liberal and secondly, he seems to have missed the point of Rich 's article. Obviously, the war is not literally over, it is, unfortunately, still raging. But I believe Rich 's point was that the war is not accomplishing the stated goals, it 's killing Americans, and it's losing support even among Bush's constituents, so Bush should come up with a plan to get our troops out and bring them home before any further deaths occur. When Bob Schieffer tried to trap Dean on the plan for a pullout, Dean stood up to Shieffer and made a very good point that it's the president's job to get a plan, that's not the job of Democratic Congressmen. Dean refuses to open Democrat leaders to criticism on this issue and offer them up as scapegoats to an incompetent administration. Pin this on Bush. Let Bush take the heat for this mess. He created it. Dean stated very clearly that this administration simply does not know what they are doing because they have never fought in a war. He also pointed out, that 's one reason why Kerry would have been a superior commander-in-chief. There is little doubt of that now.

As far as Democrat leaders demanding that the troops leave Iraq immediately, this is a goal near and dear to the hearts of a distinct majority of Americans. I think we can rely on the fact that Americans are not going to back down from protesting and demanding withdrawal now. But liberals should remember, when assessing Democrat leaders, ( I remember because I was a student protester in the sixties) that people protested Viet Nam for about seven years before we finally got out of that war. Now we have that memory to spur us on, and I hope this one won't take so long to end, but it may not happen as quickly as we would all like. With terrorism going on at home and abroad, politicians are hesitant to do anything that looks unpatriotic--Democrats are already fighting against that label--and perhaps Democrat leaders are hesitant to leave innocent people to be slaughtered, which is what happened in Viet Nam after we withdrew.

My main point is, I don't see the value in liberal journalists criticizing other liberal journalists. I doubt any liberal news site is running articles in favor of supporting wannabe Republican Democrats. Journalists should write objective critiques of the political situation and of individual politicians and let readers sift through the information. If politicians use poor strategies that don 't reflect the attitudes of the majority of liberals, then commentators and the public should expose them and criticize those politicians, or start a write-in campaign or petition to let misguided liberal politicians know that liberal voters won't support their stand. Let 's don 't chastize good writers who are making good points that encourage liberals . And also, we, the public, don't really know everything that Democrats in Washington know. I don't like wannabe Republican Democrats, but look at Hillary Clinton. Of all the nationally recognized Democrats, she's leaning the most toward the center and seems to be adopting distinctly conservative ideas. Yet, in the polls she gets the highest ratings across the board. If I saw that she could pull in 68% of the total vote, I'd support her and hope she and Bill had learned their lessons. Certainly, their administration gave the American people the greatest measure of democracy since FDR.

My final comment is that if liberals want to win, we need to be practical and realistic. Democrats like Howard Dean are in place and they're not going away before the 2006 elections. Maybe we should applaud the good in them and, then, point out to them when they're falling short. Let 's don't quarrel with each other, rather, let 's educate the leading Democrats and the novices, too. And I suggest liberals start thinking that we are already in an election year. We 're already in the trenches. At a time when we desperately need unity, bashing each other in the common ranks will accomplish nothing.

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Terri Kionka, PhD
Retired librarian/historian
Southern Illinois University Carbondale, McKendree College, St. Louis University
Currently working as an independent scholar, first book (Civil War history) due out Spring 2006, University of Missouri Press
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