October 07, 2003

One Down, Nine to Go

Bob Graham has dropped out of the Presidential race.

I think it's fair to say that Graham's candidacy was a complete disaster for him. I cheered him on when he was considering jumping in, because the country needed a serious foreign policy conversation, which he seemed poised to provide. Unfortunately, on the campaign trail his rhetoric became distinctly unserious.

Graham voted against the Iraq war resolution because it wasn't sweeping enough; he said the president would need the authority to directly target terrorist groups in the region, notably Hezbollah, or they would join the battle and complicate it. Though I don't think this is a fatal flaw in Bush's foreign policy (there are advantages to a one-step-at-a-time strategy), the critique is certainly substantive (Michael Ledeen, for one, would agree that the operation in Iraq is handicapped by playing defense.)

When he entered the presidential campaign, his rhetoric collapsed into simple defeatism as he bragged about his no-vote on the war before the pacifistic (except in the Balkans) audiences that animate Democratic primaries, particularly in the early stages.

Graham's vaunted fundraising prowess proved an embarrassing bust. That might not have been such an problem if he had used the primary to raise his profile as a vice presidential prospect; he could have once brought gravitas to a Democratic ticket-- and brought his critical state, Florida, into play. Instead, he destroyed any gravitas he had; his junior senator, Bill Nelson, now seems just as attractive a prospect for the V.P. nomination.

Posted by John Tabin at October 7, 2003 12:29 AM