Even though two-thirds of the nation is unaware of it, the United States is in the middle of an ugly presidential campaign with Democrat "wannabes" attacking President George W. Bush at every turn.
These aren't constructive, erudite criticisms of Bush's foreign and domestic policies. Those would be welcome as part of the democratic process.
No, these are relentlessly vicious, mean-spirited attacks on the president's motives, credibility and leadership. Bush's Democratic rivals have accused him of being a "miserable failure"; of letting down U.S. troops in Iraq; of deceiving the American people; of going to war to make his rich oil friends even richer; of misleading, if not lying, about weapons of mass destruction; and going it alone in Iraq (even though more than 40 nations are directly or indirectly part of the U.S.-led coalition.)
It's hard to see how vile attacks like these - a mixture of lies and character assassination - on the commander-in-chief more than a year before the election, and months before the primaries, won't undermine troop morale in Iraq and Afghanistan; and, even worse, give aid and comfort to the enemy. Terrorists strongly believe Americans aren't resolute enough to stay the course.
Why should they believe otherwise when they hear all the hate-speech directed at Bush? Yet not one of the candidates, including super-war critic Howard Dean, are calling for a pullout.
Indeed, as The Washington Post pointed out in a recent analysis, Bush and the "wannabes" are basically all on the same page regarding Iraq and Afghanistan. They seek to get the United Nations' imprimatur if they can and more direct international troop involvement as well. Moreover, most of the Democrat candidates voted for the resolution that authorized Bush to preemptively strike Iraq.
There simply isn't that much difference between Democrats and Republicans on Iraq-Afghanistan issues, so differences have to be exaggerated, fabricated and the president demonized.
This is not democratic, it's divisive. It turns Americans against each other and needlessly erodes the nation's confidence in its leadership long before the election.
Presidential campaigns get longer and longer - and more fractious - every election cycle. Bill Clinton didn't get into the 1992 race until October of '91, and even that race was considered too long.
The 2004 campaign has already been underway for more than six months. Every time the president speaks, he's flooded with nine or 10 hate-filled rebuttals. It's as if we have 10 or 11 presidents instead of one. This is no way to run a country.