by F. T. Rea
With Iowa's results in, it seems Howard Dean may be playing the role in 2004 that Eugene McCarthy played in 1968. McCarthy was the insurgent then. And, his candidacy changed history, but surely not in the way he would have wanted or imagined.
Senator McCarthy (D-Minn) was out in front of most in his party in his outspoken criticism of the Vietnam War policy of his fellow Democrat, President Lyndon Johnson. Then McCarthy had the temerity to run against Johnson in the New Hampshire primary in that pivotal year.
It was McCarthy’s remarkably strong showing in N.H. that prompted Robert Kennedy’s sudden entry into the presidential sweepstakes, only days afterwards.
All that set in motion the events that led to Johnson announcing he would not run for reelection, which came as a shock to many. Then Sen. Kennedy (D-N.Y.), originally from Massachusetts, began to pick up momentum like a runaway train. RFK seemed well on his way to winning the Democratic nomination until the train flew off the tracks in California, where Kennedy was shot to death immediately after winning the primary there.
Post-Iowa it seems Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass), a decorated veteran of the war in Vietnam, may be the biggest benefactor of Dean having defined the anti-war issue.
Running against Bush, legitimate war hero Kerry would be in a good position to underline the absurdity of the sitting president's flight-suited pose while declaring victory in Iraq.
Perhaps, too, now Kerry needs to watch his back.