My Two Cents: Leaders of the Democratic pack?

U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W. Va.) – with his halting Southern drawl – sounded like Foghorn Leghorn during his recent over-the-top criticism of President Bush’s May 1 landing in a small S-3B Viking jet on board the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln.

I had to laugh at Byrd’s moralistic tirade, considering the 85-year-old senator used to be a member of the Ku Klux Klan and is the reigning pork king of Congress.

Sure, the White House initially erred when it said the landing was necessary – which it wasn’t – but it was a very cool PR stunt for a victorious wartime commander in chief, and the Democrats are just jealous.

That got me thinking about the field of Democrats vying to be the nominee to challenge Bush in 2004. Here is my non-expert take on the candidates:

– Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass): Strengths: He’s tall and has an imperious air about him, not to mention good hair. Also, he is a Navy combat veteran of Vietnam. Weaknesses: Is perceived as aloof and arrogant. Kerry also speaks at a glacially slow pace; a State of the Union speech by Kerry would last for several days. Annoyingly manages to work the fact he served in Vietnam into any conversation.

– Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.): Strengths: The likeable 2000 vice presidential candidate has benefited from his time on the national stage during the last presidential election. Weaknesses: People think he’s too nice, plus he has a shaky voice that sounds like a combination of Elmer Fudd and Kermit the Frog.

– Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.): Strengths: Has at least come up with a health care plan, instead of just sniping at Bush. Weaknesses: That plan looks a lot like a certain former first lady’s failed attempt at health care reform.

– Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.): Strengths: With his boyish good looks and Southern charm, he’s a natural in front of the camera. Weaknesses: Before becoming a politician, he was a trial lawyer. All he needs now is a stint at the IRS to complete the trifecta of least popular professions in America!

– Sen. Bob Graham (D-Florida): Strengths: A two-time governor and three-term senator, he may be Florida’s most-popular politician. Weaknesses: Keeps harping on the president being weak on security issues. Does he know the U.S. has won two wars under Bush?

Next week, I take a look at the rest of the mostly lesser-known field and one undeclared candidate who could break the race wide-open.

“My Two Cents” is a weekly column where the author – who would love to be on a plane as it lands on an aircraft carrier – gets his two cents worth in, despite the old saying that you only get a penny for your thoughts.