January 20, 2004 [LINK]

Kerry wins big in Iowa

(After midnight) John Kerry won big time in the Iowa caucuses, trouncing the wily, thin-skinned Howard Dean and poor old Dick Gephardt, who banked everything on this contest. Gephardt's not that old in terms of physical age, but as I've said before, his ideas are just hopelessly out of date. John Edwards' recent upsurge is quite a surprise, and apparently reflects voters' longing for a nice guy. Too bad he's a trial lawyer. (What liability crisis?) Kerry is one of the few Democratic candidates with true presidential timber, but the problem is that he's all too aware of himself, and until recently seemed to regard the presidency as an entitlement to which he was due. Too bad he has too say so many silly things to get the Democratic nomination, which of course shows one of the biggest advantages of being an incumbent.

Five hundred American servicemen and women have now been killed in Iraq, including non-combat deaths. That terrorist bomb outside U.S. headquarters in Baghdad yesterday was one of the worst ones yet, killing over 30 innocent people. Hopefully it will serve to remind Iraqis of the truly despicable nature of the Old Regime. Meanwhile, there are mass protests by Shiites (the long-oppressed majority) who demand early elections so that they can dominate the New Iraq and get revenge on the Sunnis, who were privileged under Saddam. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the father of direct majoritarian democracy, would no doubt approve of such a move, but certainly not James Madison, the father of constitutional pluralism. Not so fast, Ayatollah Sistani! Paul Bremer is right to pursue an incremental, ground-up democratization program, but he may need better political advisers to navigate the tricky waters of reform before most Iraqis (or Americans) lose patience.

NOTE: This is a "post facto" blog post, taken from the pre-November 2004 archives.