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Eight Blind Mice

Democratic presidential candidates don't see the top item on America's agenda.

By 6.5.07

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The last question in Sunday night's Democratic presidential debate was the most important. It came from a substitute elementary school teacher named Ivy Merrill, and it revealed that a 9/10 mindset prevails in the Democratic Party nearly six years after 9/11.

Merrill asked, "Given that the circumstances in this country and in our world were essentially the same when you take office, what would be your top priority for your first hundred days?"

John Edwards got the first crack: "To travel the world, reestablish America's moral authority in the world, which I think is absolutely crucial. The other things become less important and subservient.

"We have huge issues here at home. We've talked about some of them tonight: energy; global warming; what we do about the issue of health care in America; the poor, which we haven't talked about, unfortunately. But the single greatest responsibility of the next president is to travel the world, speak to the world about what real American values are -- equality, diversity. And to lead an effort by America to reestablish our alliances around the world, which is going to require time and focus. And then, third, to lead in taking action that demonstrates that America is strong, but that America is also moral and just, and we're going to help other people in the world and we're going to demonstrate our commitment to humanity. All those things."

Sen. Hillary Clinton: "Well, if President Bush has not ended the war in Iraq, to bring our troops home. That would be the very first thing that I would do."

Sen. Barack Obama: "That would be the number one priority, assuming nothing has changed. The second priority is getting moving on health care because that's something that we can get done, I think, very quickly."

Gov. Bill Richardson: "Nobody's talked about your profession, education. I would upgrade our schools. I would have pre-school for every American, full-day kindergarten. I would pay our teachers what they deserve. I'd have a minimum wage for our teachers, $40,000. I did that in New Mexico; we went from 49th to 29th. I would bring science and math academies to get America more competitive. I would emphasize the arts. I would emphasize civics, again, science and math. I would have universal education."

Rep. Dennis Kucinich: "Keep in mind, we could stop that war in Iraq now by not providing any funding. But what I intend to do is to be a president who helps to reshape the world for peace, to work with all the leaders of the world in getting rid of nuclear weapons, rejecting policies that create war as an instrument of the diplomacy; making sure that we cause the nations of the world to come together for fair trade, cancel NAFTA, cancel the WTO, go back to bilateral trade conditioned on workers' rights, human rights; create a not-for-profit health care system. I'd send the bill to Congress.

Mike Gravel: "Top priority is to turn to these people and say they're part of the leadership right now in the Congress. They could end the war if they want to. All they got to do is show the leadership and that will qualify them to be president."

Sen. Chris Dodd: "Well, I'd try to restore the constitutional rights in our country. (Applause.) This administration has done great damage to them. I would do that on the first day. I wouldn't wait a hundred days on those issues."

So, what's missing?

Winning the War on Terror.

Sen. Biden got closest to addressing America's most pressing problem when he said he'd deal with the remaining two members of the Axis of Evil. But not one of the eight people from whom the Democrats' presidential nominee will be chosen thought the fight against Islamic extremists merited a mention as the top priority of the next commander in chief -- except for the four candidates who said their top priority would be to lose the central battle in that war.

Not one candidate thought securing America's borders should be the highest priority. Not one thought that infiltrating and destroying terror networks should be the highest priority. Not one thought that winning in Afghanistan should be the highest priority. Not one thought that preventing a nuclear weapon from falling into the hands of terrorists should be the highest priority. They are the eight blind mice. And as al-Qaida in Iraq members might say after one of these candidates ends U.S. involvement in the war there, "See how they run!"

The Democratic presidential candidates view the war against Islamic terrorists, four of whom were found last weekend plotting to blow up John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, as less important than withdrawing from Iraq, subsidizing health care or even pumping yet more money into public education. Several even said they would undo many of the measures President Bush has put in place to thwart terrorist efforts to attack the United States again.

How, exactly, would they make America safer? Apparently by being nice and getting the "international community" to like us again. Sort of like President Clinton did -- finishing up nine months before September 11.

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About the Author

Andrew Cline is editorial page editor of the New Hampshire Union Leader. You can follow him on Twitter at @Drewhampshire.