More On John Kerry’s Long, Dark Summer

Power Line has a follow-up to their piece on the movement of electoral momentum towards Bush. Hindrocket points towards an interesting piece that explicates some of Kerry’s problems:

"Kerry’s weakness is the same as Gore’s," says a former campaign manager to a Democratic primary candidate. "It’s a top-heavy, consultant-based campaign. You’re looking at a lot of pundits and consultants, and a lack of a grassroots organization and field operation in these battleground states."

Part of the problem, these Democrats say, is that the Kerry campaign’s approach relies too heavily on public disfavor with Bush.

So far, at least, Kerry has failed to gain significant ground in areas where Bush has shown weakness. While support for Bush on Iraq is down considerably, for example, the president still maintains healthy leads over Kerry in public perceptions of who is best suited to conduct the war and foreign policy. Meanwhile, Kerry’s own issue strengths — health-care, Social Security and education, for example — are traditional back-burner mainstays for the Democratic Party.

This analysis seems to hit the nail on the head. The question every candidate must answer is why should you vote for me? Instead, Kerry is basing his campaign on a vote against Bush.

The problem is that counting on a protest vote is never a sound policy. Especially when the issues are trending against you. If the economy were stagnant or in decline, Kerry might have some traction. However, the economy is growing and jobs are being created. The situation in Iraq remains unstable, but the terrorists know that their only chance lies in getting the US to pull out and Bush shows no signs of budging. We now have a unanimous UN resolution behind our efforts in Iraq. Kerry’s line of attacks are rapidly growing stale.

Kerry himself is a factor: he’s profoundly unlikable. His numbers are exceptionally low, and the more front-and-center he is, the lower those numbers go. He has absolutely no common touch, and he comes off as arrogant, aloof, and patrician. A Boston Brahmin spout populist rhetoric about the working people comes off as contrived, and voters realize it. What’s holding the Democrats together is not John Kerry, it’s George W. Bush. The Democratic coalition is the Coaltion of the Wildly Indignant, and Kerry isn’t exactly lighting them on fire. Kerry got to where he is because Howard Dean’s campaign imploded at the right time for him to take advantage of the situation. He won because of the perception of "electability" – in essence he was the last remaning Democrat that wasn’t a complete and utter nutball.

In the end, I don’t see Kerry setting the election on fire. If things continue to go Bush’s way, the momentum will only continue to move his way. Kerry has the disadvantages of bad timing with the Olympics and the Clinton book tour, as well as the fact that his campaign is being run by the same band of Washington politicos that ruined Al Gore’s campaign. Kerry’s only hope is not that his campaign goes well, but that Bush’s doesn’t. While that may just turn out to be a fortuitous risk for Kerry, the odds aren’t looking in his favor.

3 thoughts on “More On John Kerry’s Long, Dark Summer

  1. I see your point, though I a disagree, Jay. Kerry doesn’t come across to me as “likeable”, but I’ve noticed you’ve neglected to talk about how snippy President Bush has been lately.

    I was watching coverage of Tom Brokaw’s interview with Pres. Bush about commemorating D-day. After a while, Bush seemed to get really agitated and even snippy with Brokaw. He seemed like he’d rather be anywhere than talking with Tom.

    I couldn’t help think on that day. The same day that news of former Pres. Reagen death was still fresh in mind, that the differences between the two were clear. Bush hates the spotlight (or maybe he just hates tough questions). That’s not good for a President of the United States.

    On the other hand, Kerry, who sometimes is difficult to listen to, is having a better time with getting his message across. I think that he will be able to get his vision across in the coming months. And as you say he will have the luxury of not starting negative ads. Michael Moore INC. will have that covered.

    If you’d ask me Bush will have to better at communicating his vision of not only the next four years, but also his first four to persuade the american people into giving him his job back.

  2. WordPress doesn’t yet support comment editing, although it could well be possible in a later version.

    As for your comments on Bush, you could be on to something there. Bush has never been a great speaker, and he needs to get his message out far better than he has.

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