This is Karl Rove's worst nightmare: a large crowd has gathered in a restaurant in the small town of Montrose, Pa., on a sunny Sunday afternoon in February to listen to the Democratic candidate running in the 10th Congressional District, a rural conservative bastion considered "safe" for Republicans.And the guy he's running against is a 65 year old father of 3 who -- until recently -- was banging a 29 year old and threatening her with violence. He settled a case with her out of court.
The candidate, Chris Carney, is soft-spoken and well informed .. a Navy Reserve intelligence officer who is also a college professor.
The first question from the audience is about Iraq: What would Carney do now? "I'd withdraw one American battalion for every Iraqi battalion ready to fight. President Bush says there are 50 Iraqi battalions ready." Of course, there really aren't 50 Iraqi battalions ready to operate independently; in fact, according to the U.S. military, there isn't even one. "Right, but the President claims there are 50," Carney said later. "We're not going to have an honest conversation about the war until the President is held accountable for the things he says."
Carney is no left-wing bomb thrower; he is a pragmatic moderate. Before the war began, he specialized in studying Saddam's ties to regional terrorist groups. "There were no links to 9/11," he told me. "But there were plenty of other contacts with terror groups. I always thought that was a better argument for the war than weapons of mass destruction." Carney's politics pretty accurately reflect the views of most Iraq combat veterans running as Democrats. They are not so much antiwar as anti-Bush, furious about the lack of preparation for the war, the insufficient troop levels, the lousy equipment. "I served in Kosovo and had an up-armored humvee," says Jon Soltz, the director of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America political-action committee. "Then I served in Iraq and had a humvee that wasn't armored. I lost one soldier I sent on a convoy without armor. You don't forget something like that."
Even with this I read:
Chris Carney has one of the toughest races. "The district is so Republican that no one really thinks he can win, even with Sherwood's problems," says G. Terry Madonna, who runs Franklin and Marshall College's Keystone Poll.If that is really the case, the American public is even more lost than I thought...