Four horsemen and a general named Clark

No, we are not referring to the biblical four horsemen of the apocalypse, nor to Blasco Ibañez’ fictional World War I characters. The ones we have in mind resemble more a lightweight version of Knute Rockne’s cyclonic backfield fighting for Old Notre Dame.

But unlike the football heroes made legendary by Grantland Rice back in 1925, this lackluster political backfield provided the teamwork and plays that won the day Monday in the Iowa caucuses. Won the game for the Democratic Washington establishment, but may have lost the presidential season for the party.

Edwards, Gephardt, Kerry and Lieberman, all lawyers, all Washington legislators who fifteen months before had given Bush carte blanche to invade Iraq , showed the Hawkeye citizenry, and the country at large, how a political beating (some might call it ‘friendly fire’) should be done.

As the result from the caucuses became clear on Monday night, I had a short visit via “MSN-messenger” with an expatriate-friend from New Hampshire now living in Rome . As I have found to be the case with most American expatriates, these guys are just as aware of what’s happening in the US as their stateside countrymen. Jack probably knows more of what’s going on in Manchester (NH)-or Boston for that matter, than most people living there.

Jack just couldn’t fathom what had happened in Iowa . It didn’t make any sense to him. Thirty-two years ago, as a Young Republican at Brown, he would have delighted at the spectacle given by the Democrats… but he looks at things a little differently now, and the prospect of a second Bush term is beyond his socio-political endurance… his sanity, he claims.

Never mind that Jack feels Bush is the most dismal figure to appear in American politics for the last thirty-plus years in which he has been a participant. He is tired, really tired, of having to defend America , day in and day out, for the behavior of the administration currently in power; and now he sees more of the same for another five years. “Not that Europeans dislike Americans, ‘mind you… it’s just Bush they despise, and the fact that Americans seem to be going along for the ride,” he says.

To Jack , Iowa is just the first round of a demolition derby where the Democratic Party self-destructs. “They had the right guy to rally around, Governor Dean, what more did they want?” Jack contends. “He has a clean bill of health on all important issues, the smarts, the credentials, and much-needed passion to attract independents… no need for a Perot-type,” maintains my friend living in Rome . He gives credit to Gore, Bradley, Harkin and others for endorsing Dean, but feels that some other political heavyweights were needed… like President Carter. To him the damage may have already been done to get a Democrat in the White House. And to a point, I would have to concur.

“Those four horsemen should never have mounted their stallions for a presidential race; neither humble beginnings, nor religious piety, nor JFK-airs give them the appropriate credentials to set up house on Pennsylvania Avenue ,” Jack claims.

As for Wesley Clark… my friend feels that he, or perhaps Al Gore, could have made an excellent Secretary of State for ‘President Howard Dean.’ Power and ego, however, often keep politicians, or military men, blind to reality. And doing the right things for society may appear to them as too high a price to pay. This time, without the slightest hesitation, I would have to concur.

I had to ask him about Kucinich… what he thought. Well, Jack’s Republican upbringing and fiscal conservatism were a little too ingrained in him to accept the prospect of the former mayor of Cleveland taking the reins of the nation. Nonetheless, he was willing to consent to the creation of a cabinet post for him in a ‘Dean administration’… one as Secretary of Peace. Amen to that.