You can’t beat something with nothing. It’s as true in politics as it is in holiday toys. The stores are bristling with combat materiel–G.I. Joe’s now doing special ops from a jump jet–but you can’t find a Church World Service doll anywhere. (See below, however.) That’s the big reason I agree with Tim Liszewski, a Raleigh technical writer, that Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich should absolutely stay in the Democratic presidential race.

Kucinich, if you didn’t know, thinks we should create a U.S. Department of Peace to go with our Department of Rumsfeldian Defense. “It’s part of his whole approach about changing the attitude of government from being negative, and reacting out of fear, to offering something positive for people to work for,” Liszewski says.

Anyway, Liszewski was among those who bristled last week when ABC’s Ted Koppel suggested, in a candidates debate, that Kucinich ought to be getting out soon, along with Al Sharpton and Carol Moseley Braun (or else be “vanity candidates,” Ted said). Next day, ABC reassigned the three reporters who’d been covering their campaigns.

Yes, I know: Mo, Larry and Curley, to judge by the “coverage.” Still, it prompted Liszewski and 20 other Kucinich volunteers to protest Saturday at WTVD, the ABC-owned affiliate in Durham. A station representative was polite, Liszewski says. Otherwise, they attracted no media attention whatsoever and wound up talking politics with folks at the neighboring soup kitchen.

Kucinich is the one Democratic candidate who says that American troops should leave Iraq ASAP–staying only as long as it would take their international replacements to arrive. (They won’t as long as we’re in there, Kucinich argues.) Now that Saddam Hussein is in custody, and it’s clear he wasn’t plotting his return to power from a hole in the ground, isn’t it time for us to consider getting out?


The question everyone’s asking is: Doesn’t the capture of Saddam wrap up President W’s re-election, or at least hurt the chances of an anti-war candidate like Howard Dean?

No, and no. What it does is strip away all doubt that there were no WMDs and that Saddam was a delusional tyrant whose thugs controlled most of Iraq but who posed no threat whatsoever outside of it.

If, like Joe Lieberman, you nonetheless think it was a good idea to take over Iraq as an American base of operations in the Middle East, at a cost of hundreds of billions or trillions of dollars for years to come, then you will be voting for W. That’s obviously what he thinks.

Most Democrats, and especially the primary-voting ones, don’t think that, however. Moreover, we foresaw that when Lieberman, Richard Gephardt, John Kerry and John Edwards voted 15 months ago to give Bush war-making powers (and, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Wesley Clark would have voted that way, too), they weren’t strengthening his hand to disarm Saddam peacefully, much as they’d like to revise that history now. They were removing the last barrier to an invasion Bush was already executing right in front of them.

Among the “major” contenders, only Dean spoke out then against Bush’s megalomania. And he’s the only one now willing to say that we are no safer for having Saddam in custody, and a lot less safe for the havoc our invasion unleashed. As it becomes clear, in succeeding months, that the guerrilla fighting has never been about Saddam’s return, the dimensions of Bush’s spider hole will be revealed. Or so Dean supporters are certain. Which is why this won’t hurt him a bit.

Only if Southern Democrats (abetted by Ted Koppel et al) convince the country that the party must nominate someone who was wrong on Iraq will Dean be denied the nomination. At which point the wind will go out of the Democratic campaign everywhere.

Dean, in contrast to Kucinich, says we’re stuck in Iraq for the foreseeable future. Perhaps. But let’s hear both of sides of that, shall we?


Give a Gift. Speaking of Church World Service, it’s among the additional groups you recommended–since last week’s list–for our “gift of a gift” donations in the names of family members and friends.

Prevent Child Abuse N.C. “I can’t think of a better cause to support in this way,” writes Thomas Schenck, the board president. “I think we all agree that no children are born ‘bad,’ but there are certainly many kids who are living in fear and danger, and they will not be experiencing the holidays in the joyful way most children do.”, 1-800-CHILDREN, 3344 Hillsborough St., Raleigh 27607.

Food Bank of N.C. provides seven meals for every $1 you donate, according to Patricia Evans, who works there. For $10 apiece, they’ll send gift cards to your list and personalize them for you. Call 857-0707; donate via, or go to 3808 Tarheel Dr., Raleigh 27609.

Church World Service is helping schools in Afghanistan, orphans in Chechnya, AIDS victims in Africa and interfaith groups in California., 1-800-297-1516, P.O. Box 968, Elkhardt, IN 46515. “We’ve been donating to CWS for years and our families know that this is what they get from us and really seem to appreciate it,” writes Polly Harris of Durham. EndBlock

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