If you take a look at some of what I wrote about John Kerry in the midst of the Democratic nominating process, you’ll find that I wasn’t keen on the fellow. Specificially, I said that he was the candidate of the monied and entrenched power brokers of the party, and one who had a tendency to play fast and loose with the truth. Although I thought he would be the next president, I doubted his ability to get much done (other than roll back a few of Bush’s more egregious measures). I even thought he might be a one-term president, losing to Jeb Bush in 2008.
My view on much of that remains the same. What’s changed, and changed dramatically, are the polling numbers in this presidential race. As recently as a few weeks ago, Kerry was over 100 electoral votes ahead. As of today he is over 100 electoral votes behind. That is a remarkable swing in a election against the most hapless, incompetent president in living memory.
In other words, this has been John Kerry’s election to lose, and he’s losing it. The Bush smear strategy has been so effectiveÂ—and the Democratic response so ineptÂ—that you wonder what the hell is going on in the DNC. Even Ralph Nader who, after the election 2000 debacle, ought to have no traction whatsoever, is finding some support. This should border on inconceivable, but it’s today’s reality thanks to the way the Kerry has run his campaign.
The first, most obvious mistake was not responding forcefully to the Vietnam-era charges by Bush surrogates. They’re totally bogus, but allowing them unchallenged play makes people think they’re true. The second mistake was countering with similar Vietnam-era accusations toward Bush. Don’t you think the American public already knows Bush got special treatment? His whole life has been special treatment! But it’s not a voting issue, and it’s unbelievable that anyone in the Kerry campaign thinks it is.
The war and the economyÂ—the two biggest issues on the tableÂ—have been heavily overshadowed, and that would be unfortunate except that Kerry has yet to lay out a consistent position on either. I am sorry to say it, but at this juncture I have no idea whether Kerry is for or against the war, and further, I don’t know what his plan for getting us out of Iraq is. (By contrast, I not only knew Howard Dean’s position on Iraq, he also advanced a very logical exit strategy.)
Kerry’s strongest issue, by default mind you, is the economy. It may or may not be sputtering back to life, but we are a dramatically poorer nation than we were four years ago. Unfortunately, the person who best articulates challenge and offers hope for its solution is veep candidate John Edwards. That Edwards is on his side will do Kerry only a modest amount of good.
Lest I leave any anti-Bush voter like myself in despair, I should note that undecideds almost always break for the challenger and that even with the electoral map as presently configured we still have several weeks and several debates to go. Many states are not outside the margin of error and a big swing back toward Kerry (who typically closes campaigns well) is well within the realm of possibilty, if not probability.
I have, up to now, been unconcerned about defeating George Bush come November. Well, now I’m concerned. Something in the Kerry campaign needs to change and change soon.