The deep end

This commentary from Real Clear Politics provides a good analysis of the state of the Democrats on the issue of Iraq. RCP sees leading Democrats such as Ted Kennedy driving the party towards a stridently defeatist position on Iraq (essentially indistinguishable from that of Dennis Kucinich) that could seriously damage Democratic prospects in 2004. Most of the potential nominees for president are following Kennedy’s lead. Only Gephardt and Lieberman are resisting, and Lieberman’s campaign is “on life support.” RCP sees Gephardt as “most likely the big winner here.” His support is holding up despite his refusal to go “hard left” on the war, and that refusal leaves him better positioned than Dean in the general election, if Gephardt can get that far. And he might, if Lieberman folds and the more “moderate” of the remaining candidates (Edwards and Clark) keep moving to towards Dean’s position. These developments would give Gephardt a niche to himself, while Dean might have to share the anti-war vote for a while. My money is still on Dean, however.
HINDROCKET adds: I don’t disagree with either RCP or Deacon. My only additional observation is that there is no way Dick Gephardt will win the general election, should he get to that point. For the Democrats to nominate Gephardt would be much like the Republicans’ nominating Bob Dole. Gephardt is an old, boring war-horse, well-liked by organized labor but without the faintest hint of charisma. While more “electable” on paper, I think he would be a worse candidate than Dean.