Senator Clinton:

Isn’t it time for you to have your Lloyd Bentsen / Dan Quayle moment with Senator Obama?

I feel like a traitor to the moderates for writing you with a message I believe would help your campaign for the nomination. I may not vote for you, but that really is not important. We all have much to fear from shallow and weak leaders. One thing your detractors cannot say of you is that you are shallow or weak.

Next year, personal strength is going to be more important than party or ideology, and we need two very strong candidates in the presidential race. Putin and Bin Laden are our two biggest threats right now, and they are more than a match for your two strongest opponents. Putin and his aging band of KGB thugs wouldn’t have a clue how to handle someone like you. And in a battle of wills with you, Bin Laden would be “one weak woman.”

Over a forty year period I have seen or met seven American presidents, read hundreds of books about campaign strategy, political candidates, presidential history, and spent more time than a normal person should spend listening to political speeches and analyses. I cannot believe the way the Obama and Edwards strategists are getting away with their nitpicky tactics of nibbling away at your candidacy like a bunch of mice.

I have no idea what to do about John Edwards–he’s a tricky one, and he hides under his haircut. But in dealing with Senator One-Lucky-Guess, I can’t help but remember the way Bentsen knocked Quayle right out of the sky. You could do this more gently but with equal effectiveness. May I suggest the following.

At the earliest possible occasion, after one of Obama’s myopic attacks on your record, I would turn, face him directly and eye-to-eye, and say: “Barack, I have listened patiently and respectfully to all your criticisms of my record. I understand why you are doing this. The simple fact, Barack, is that you don’t have a record of your own. Every one of us standing on this platform, whatever our other faults and differences, have been leaders for quite awhile. Leaders make a lot of decisions. Some of them work out and some of them do not. But we take the heat and keep leading. You are like a bright kid fresh out of med school criticizing experienced surgeons by saying that you have never lost a patient. You’ve never even HAD a patient, Barack, and one lucky guess about the Iraq war does not make you a leader.”

Obama is a good man and may make a fine president some day. But he’s not ready now, and we can’t afford him at this critical juncture.

Sincerely yours,

Mark Mercer

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