I meant to link to this earlier, but I wasn’t able to get around to it. The Village Voice argues that John Kerry needs to go. Of course, it’s a bit late for that now – despite all the theories that Hilary Clinton will swoop in like some Chanel-clad deus ex machina at the convention.
I think that the comparisons of John Kerry and Bob Dole are quite apt. Dole was a war hero who ran against a popular yet polarizing incumbant in a time when the opposition party carried a vicious sense of partisanship. Dole spent all his time either attacking Clinton or trying to dodge some question about his own record – he barely had time to get a word in edgewise about what he stood for other than not being Bill Clinton. He also lost by a decent margin.
Based on what we’re seeing at this point, I’d guess that unless John Kerry completely fires his advisers and changes his message he’s headed for the same fate as Dole. The Kerry message is based on his war record and his hatred of Bush. That’s not enough. He has to tell the 10% of swing voters that will decide this election why they should vote for Kerry rather than Bush. Unless someone shares the same visceral hatred of Bush that the Democrats have, they’ve little reason to vote for Kerry.
Kerry also faces the perfect storm of events seeking to sweep over his campaign. The economy is rebounding, undercutting his economic arguments. His inability to articulate a cogent position on Iraq has negated any negative momentum against Bush on that issue. He’s rapidly running out of things to run on, and can only hope that something goes very wrong between now and November. In the interim, the spotlight will be off Kerry and on Bill Clinton for a good month leading up to the Boston Democratic Convention when his memoirs come out in late June – given Clinton’s divisive position in American politics it almost makes one think that Kerry is just a fall guy for Hilary in 2008.
However, Glenn Reynolds is also right that the Republicans shouldn’t get cocky and assume that the rest of the election will be as bad for Kerry as recent days have been. At the same time, if the dynamics of this election don’t dramatically change – if Kerry isn’t personally anointed by God or Bush caught eating a puppy, it doesn’t look good for Kerry.
Given that Kerry got the nomination because of his perception of electability, I wouldn’t be blaming the Democrats for a nasty case of buyer’s remorse.