Winner for "The Departed"
Speaking of Oscars, the Yankees open the 2007 season at home on April 2 against Tampa Bay.
East Coast Democrats haven't done well in presidential races since JFK.
Opposition to the Vietnam War in the 1960s led some to promote Senate Foreign Relations chair Fulbright for president.
Thirty-nine years ago today, George Romney ends his presidential campaign.
The war in Iraq played a major role in putting Democrats in charge of Congress last November, and conventional wisdom holds that it's likely to help the party in its bid to take the White House in 2008.
But for now, the Democratic candidates for president seem to be fighting for the office of Apologizer in Chief — at least when it comes to the 2002 vote that authorized the war. Specifically, the spat centers over whether Sens. Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Chris Dodd and former Sen. John Edwards should "apologize" for their "mistaken" votes in favor of war.
Clinton refuses to call her vote a "mistake," though she readily concedes that if she knew then what she knows now, she would have voted differently. But some of her rivals are taking their mea culpas much further.
That rush to regret has been clear for weeks now, and it was on display again last week in Carson City, Nev., as the candidates appeared at a forum sponsored by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Edwards has been most forceful on this issue, saying (almost with pride) that he was misled by President Bush, bought the WMD bill of goods, voted for the resolution and now regrets it. I'm big enough to admit I made a mistake, he says. I'm sorry and I apologize, he says. Voters want their leaders to take responsibility when they make a mistake, right? (But he's not criticizing Hillary Clinton — not at all. An apology is up to "her and her conscience," Edwards says.)
Dodd also chimed in, saying, in effect, that he voted for the war, that it was a mistake, and that it's a legitimate issue.
But that argument — that being misled over the road to war is a badge of honor — is a bit mystifying. Imagine the regrets of the 88 senators who voted for the Gulf of Tonkin resolution in 1964 (the vote that essentially gave President Lyndon Johnson the right to wage war in Vietnam, with only two dissenters). Or the regrets of a unanimous House of Representatives on the Tonkin vote. Campaigning on the slogan "I was misled and I apologize" seems a bit much. (Republican Gov. George Romney of Michigan tried that in 1967, when he said that he was "brainwashed" by the Pentagon about the progress being made in Vietnam; he immediately became an object of ridicule.)
(Trivia question: Who were the two senators who voted against the Gulf of Tonkin resolution? Answer below.)
When his turn came at the forum, Rep. Dennis Kucinich couldn't believe his ears. The Ohioan — the lone Democratic presidential candidate who voted against the war in 2002 — said, "These candidates come before the American people and say they were tricked, misled, deceived by George Bush. Well, here's one who wasn't!"
Sen. Barack Obama, who didn't appear at the Carson City forum, was not in the Senate in 2002. But while in the Illinois state legislature, he opposed the war from the outset. He, too, has made it clear that how a candidate voted on the resolution should matter to voters.
But Obama and Kucinich are different. They were both against the war from Day One and made their opposition clear. For Edwards, Dodd and others to take Hillary Clinton to task for her refusal to apologize seems a bit much.
And speaking of the Democratic field, there is this from readers:
Q: I'm really impressed with Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) and his views on ending the war in Iraq. I know he has a long way before he can win the Democratic nomination. Has a Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman ever won his party's presidential nomination? — Jerry Walls, Los Angeles, Calif.
A: No. And in fact, Biden is the first sitting chairman of the committee to try. There have been a few who served as chairman and ran for president, but not at the same time. Among those on that list are Dick Lugar (R-IN), Frank Church (D-ID) and William Borah (R-ID) in the 20th century, and Henry Clay (Whig-KY), James Buchanan (D-PA) and Charles Sumner (R-MA) in the 19th. But none of them sought the presidency while they were chairman of Foreign Relations.
Q: I love Hillary [Clinton], but doesn't she realize that being an East Coast Democrat is the kiss of death in presidential politics? I feel her election chances would have been better as an Arkansas senator, and that moving to New York was not a good higher-office strategy. — Bob Hicks, St. Paul, Minn.
A: Hillary is Hillary, and I suspect it wouldn't have mattered much whether she ran from New York, Little Rock or her birth state of Illinois. Those who love her love her, and those who don't, don't. But since John Kennedy — who barely squeaked by in 1960 — East Coast Dems who've run for president haven't had an easy go, as this chart shows.
Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, New York — assassinated while seeking nomination
Sen. Edmund Muskie, Maine — failed to win nomination
NYC Mayor John Lindsay — failed to win nomination
Rep. Shirley Chisholm, New York — failed to win nomination
Sargent Shriver, Maryland — failed to win nomination
Gov. Milton Shapp, Pennsylvania — failed to win nomination
Sen. Edward Kennedy, Massachusetts — failed to win nomination
Gov. Michael Dukakis, Massachusetts — won nomination but lost general election
Ex-Sen. Paul Tsongas, Massachusetts — failed to win nomination
Ex-Sen.Bill Bradley, New Jersey — failed to win nomination
Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts — won nomination but lost general election
Ex-Gov. Howard Dean, Vermont — failed to win nomination
Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut — failed to win nomination
Rev. Al Sharpton, New York — failed to win nomination