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The Long Goodbye

"A tearful Senator John F. Kerry launched the next phase of his Senate career yesterday with a vow to hasten an end to the Iraq war," says the Boston Globe, "as the man who spent the past four years gunning for the presidency turned his attention to building a statesmanlike legacy in the Senate.

"Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat, choked back tears on the Senate floor as he bowed out of the 2008 presidential race and said he would run for a fifth Senate term next year. He said his mission would mirror the one he brought to Congress with his famous Senate testimony in the midst of the Vietnam War: to end an unpopular war . . .

"Kerry aides and advisers said the senator's decision came down to a political calculation that he would face long odds in capturing the presidential nomination for a second time, given his diminished public standing after his 2004 defeat by Bush."

Okay, so he's not saying he wants to spend more time with Teresa.

"The senator had worked hard to prepare for another run, logging more miles and spreading more money than any other Democrat in the last election cycle. But he found himself shunned by much of his party after joking shortly before the November elections that poor students would 'get stuck in Iraq' -- a comment that Kerry called a 'botched joke' but that revived memories of his 2004 verbal missteps."

Humor was not his strong suit.

The Chicago Tribune cuts to the chase: "For many of those who had supported Kerry in 2004, there was the feeling that he had his chance and now it was someone else's turn. There remains anger among many Democrats that as a presidential candidate Kerry allowed himself to be 'swift-boated' by Republicans who ran ads questioning his war record in Vietnam."

Says the New York Times: "Mr. Kerry's announcement of his political plans, if unveiled in an unorthodox place, was not a surprise, notwithstanding his early statements that he would run again for the White House. He was in effect bowing to a Democratic Party that was clearly unreceptive and that had turned its attention to new candidates, in particular Senators Barack Obama of Illinois and Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, who got into the race over the past week. Many Democrats had said they expected Mr. Kerry would ultimately decide not to run after assessing how much strength he had in his party; as it is, most of his aides from the 2004 campaign have moved on."

Well, so much for the State of the Union, at least when it comes to Iraq:

"A Senate committee approved a toughly worded resolution Wednesday to oppose a troop buildup in Iraq, moving Congress a step closer to an official repudiation of President Bush's leadership of the increasingly violent 4-year-old war," says the Los Angeles Times.

"In a sign of how partisan the debate over Iraq remains, only one Republican joined Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to support the nonbinding resolution, which bluntly declares: 'It is not in the national interest of the United States to deepen its military involvement in Iraq.' "

That Republican would be Chuck Hagel, whose impassioned speech against sending more kids to Iraq got big play on television yesterday.

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