No worthy opponent has surfaced yet

As if the field of candidates were not crowded enough, former NATO Supreme Commander Wesley Clark recently announced that he would become the 10th candidate for the Democratic nomination for President in 2004.

Clark has to make a case for his campaign, but his anouncement comes at such an early stage that voters should give his campaign some time and consider the three other candidates who actually have a good chance of winning the nomination: John Kerry, Howard Dean and Joseph Lieberman.

The other six candidates should automatically be asked to drop out because they are hardly registering support anywhere in the country.

While I was at a hotel in Atlantic City over the summer, I remember seeing Dean’s picture on the cover of Time Magazine and thinking to myself, “Giving Dean the nomination would be a godsend to the Republican Party.”

He stands out as an unreconstructed liberal from what is already a left-of-center state. Socialized medicine has become Dean’s number one campaign issue and he plans to fund it by increasing federal taxes.

America’s health care industry is important to our economy for jobs and high health care standards.

Nations that have tried a single-payer health care system have had all sorts of problems because national budgets usually cannot cover the entire expense.

Additionally, elected officials have no choice but to increase taxes in what are already heavily taxed countries, cut back on funding for services, reduce the number of hospital beds and make people wait for long periods of time for even emergency health care services.

Many of the reforms considered overseas involve allowing doctors and specialists to set up private practices while giving people the independence to choose their own doctors. During the 1980s, John Kerry was the lieutenant governor under Michael Dukakis and supported weekend passes for convicted felons, including first-degree murderers, in Massachusetts.

Although he is not a carbon copy of Ted Kennedy, his Senate colleague, Kerry, has also cast an incredible number of like-minded bad votes.

Kerry voted against a balanced budget amendment, against relief for American taxpayers, against the 1991 Persian Gulf War, against the death penalty and has supported expensive and wasteful expenditures such as the “Big Dig” public works project in Boston.

Then there’s Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut. It’s not easy to run for the White House from the Democratic side if you have original ideas.

He has supported school choice, Social Security reform, re-evaluating federal Affirmative Action policies and product liability reform in the past. Lieberman also has supported judging Supreme Court nominees based on competence and integrity instead of where they personally stand on one or two political issues.

On tax reduction, he has always supported cutting taxes on capital gains to motivate the economy and he deserves credit for that. Lieberman is someone who ran for the U.S. Senate in 1988 as a more conservative alternative to liberal Republican Lowell Weicker.

Lieberman should stick with what has worked so well for him in the past and what has made him well-liked even among Republicans.

Despite the popularity of conservative liberals like Lieberman, Republican U.S. Senators are safe because the vast majority of seats held in heavily Republican states. The GOP will probably even pick up a few more seats.

Ever since Lieberman first announced his intentions to run for President one year before the 2000 election, my preferences have continued to stay with George W. Bush and the Republican party.

It is also critical that Pennsylvania Republicans give their nomination once again to Senator Arlen Specter.

George W. Bush is popular even in states that he lost by more than double digits three years ago. Ronald Reagan had a weaker standing in opinion polls at this same time in 1983.

At the start of the 1988 campaign, Vice-President George Bush was miles behind Gov. Michael Dukakis and managed to win his election by more than seven million votes.

Bush’s re-election will not sweep the vast majority of the country like Reagan’s victory in 1984 or Nixon’s victory in 1972, so his re-election team should be careful with spending any money in most New England states with the exceptions of New Hampshire and Maine.

Waging campaigns in California, Illinois and New York are very expensive and hard to win, but the Bush team should target at least one of these states.

If the object of the Democratic primary campaign is to talk about real changes and to connect with American voters, none of the Democratic candidates are having much luck so far.