Monday's must-reads


Geraldine Sealey
January 26, 2004 7:09PM (UTC)

Granite State voters' decisions not set in stone
A day before the New Hampshire primary, most polls show John Kerry ahead, but campaign strategists tell The Boston Globe that "as many as half the voters could change their minds before the election, especially because New Hampshire is stubbornly independent-minded." The final weekend of politicking before the primary was as harried as many could remember, with the candidates vying for the votes of New Hampshire's undecideds, independents and former Gephardt supporters. John Kerry supporters tried signs like "Doubting Dean? Vote Kerry." Howard Dean brought his wife and mother out on the stump. The latest Globe tracking poll shows Kerry ahead of second-place Dean by 20 points -- but 14 percent say they are still undecided.

Long, hard slog likely
Just a month ago, it looked like the frontloaded primary process could have yielded a winner by early February. Now, the major Democratic campaigns are preparing for the long haul. Even if Kerry stacks up his second win on Tuesday in New Hampshire, the campaigns go national on Feb. 3 with seven states from Arizona to South Carolina holding primaries or caucuses. The New York Times looks at how the major candidates might plot their strategies. "In the next, sprawling phase of this campaign, strategists will have to decide which states to contest, and how hard to do so. Many of those decisions will be made Tuesday night, after the results of the New Hampshire primary, where the battle for second or third place has been brutal, judging by the polls."

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GOP sees Bush vs. liberal to be named later
No matter who wins the Democratic nomination, President Bush's advisors already have their talking points ready -- they're just waiting to plug in their opponent's name. The Washington Post writes: "Ask any of President Bush's Washington strategists to size up the Democratic candidates campaigning for Tuesday's New Hampshire primary and they will say they are delighted at the prospect of running against a liberal tax-raiser who is soft on terrorism. They don't know what his name is, but those Republicans say that they can put him in that box, whoever he turns out to be. One Republican consultant said the basic message of ads on behalf of Bush will be that the Democrat is 'liberal, liberal, liberal.'"

The Bush advisors' dream candidate: Howard Dean. The one they most fear: John Edwards. One Republican official called him "Clinton without the scandal -- John Kennedy, from the South."

Cheney waged 'guerilla war' on Blair's multilateral efforts
A new biography of Tony Blair portrays Dick Cheney as relentlessly opposed to Blair's attempts to get U.N. support for invading Iraq and describes the "guerilla war" tactics Cheney used to keep President Bush focused on a unilateral approach to the war. The Financial Times says "Mr. Cheney's opposition to U.N. involvement left Mr. Blair uncertain whether Mr. Bush would go down the U.N. route until he uttered the relevant words in his speech to the U.N. general assembly in September 2002. One Blair aide remarked: '[Mr Cheney] waged a guerrilla war against the process . . . He's a visceral unilateralist.' Another agreed: 'Cheney fought it all the way -- at every twist and turn, even after Bush's speech to the U.N.'"

Cheney told the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland over the weekend: "There comes a time when deceit and defiance must be seen for what they are. At that point, a gathering danger must be directly confronted. At that point, we must show that beyond our resolutions is actual resolve."

U.S. forces in Iraq struggling with acute psychiatric problems
A Guardian special report examines the suicides and psychiatric evacuations plaguing the American military in Iraq. The incidence of the vast majority of suicides in the period after May 1 is statistically significant, accounting for about 7 percent of all service deaths in Iraq, the Guardian reports.

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Up to one in five of the American military personnel in Iraq will suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, say military medical staff. "At the heart of the concern is that Iraq may repeat the experience of Vietnam, which experienced low levels of psychiatric problems during service there in comparison with the two world wars, but very high levels of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among veterans later. According to Captain Jennifer Berg, the chairman of psychiatric services at the Naval Medical Centre in San Diego, whose staff see US Marines returning from Iraq, military psychiatrists have been warned to expect the disorder to occur in 20 per cent of the servicemen and women in Iraq."


Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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