As many others have noted, whatever happens with Howard Dean, he certainly seems to have given the Democratic party a much-needed spine infusion. The last thing we need this election season is a repeat of Al Gore’s performance during, I think, the second debate (“I agree with my opponent about that! Oh, and I agree with my opponent about that, too! And that!”). Or a repeat of the 2002 elections, for that matter.

And while we’re giving credit where due, let’s remember to give props to Michael Moore, for pretty much single-handedly re-introducing the topic of George Bush’s military record into the public debate. He took a lot of grief for that — but here we are, a couple of weeks later, and the story’s sticking. As well it should — apparently the only thing backing up Bush’s version of events is a conveniently torn document. And that doesn’t even identify him by name — just a stray “W” left over after Rose Mary Woods ripped the document with her foot while stretched out playing a game of Twister.

And now it looks as though the Valerie Plame story may be heating up again. We’ll see where this goes. Too bad the FBI had to spend time and manpower on this, but I guess George Bush decided not to devote his life to finding the real leaker after all.

At any rate, it is my fervent hope that the eventual Democratic nominee will be enough of a fighter to bring these things up. If, once the primary season ends, that nominee decides that the American people have had enough of all the mudslinging and negative campaigning and decides to run a “nice” campaign — well, then, we are well and truly screwed, because the Republicans will suffer from no such illusions.

Speaking of the presumptive frontrunner — after this cartoon ran, in November of 2002, someone from Senator Kerry’s office contacted me to request a copy. I always have mixed feelings about such requests — they are, I think, kind of a way of co-opting or de-legitimizing what I’m trying to say. If I am displeased with the performance of a politician, and write a cartoon in which I try to convey my displeasure, and the politician then writes me and asks for a copy of the cartoon, and I am flattered by the attention of the great man and promptly send it to him…it is as if I have effectively said, ha ha, just a little good-natured kidding, I didn’t really mean it, we’re all members of the club here…right?

So I had to think about this one awhile. I eventually decided to send it to him, but with this inscription:

Dear Senator Kerry — please prove me wrong.

I figured I could live with that. Whether or not he will prove me wrong remains to be seen.