April 27, 2004


JOHN KERRY'S QUIET COLLAPSE (John Podhoretz, April 27, 2004, NY POst)

THE conventional wisdom is that the presidential election will be close. It's a 50-50 country, so the CW goes, just as it was in the year 2000.

The problem is that the conventional wisdom hasn't taken a proper accounting of John Kerry. Here's the truth that Democrats don't want to admit and that Republicans are fearful of speaking openly because they don't want to jinx things:

Kerry is a terrible, terrible, terrible candidate. [...]

Kerry mentioned Bush's National Guard service not once, but twice, during his five minutes with Charlie Gibson. So now we have the Democratic candidate for president himself making the accusation that the president of the United States was a deserter.

You don't have to be a Bush fan to think this is spectacularly stupid. The issue isn't Bush or his campaign. The issue is Kerry and a series of statements he made on the record in the media dating back more than 30 years. Trying to change the topic to Bush's service simply smacks of cornered desperation.

And that is Kerry's great weakness as a candidate - a weakness that will be hard for him to overcome, because it appears to be a character trait. The man who said "I voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it" is a man filled with the conviction that he can talk himself out of a tough situation.

Sometimes, it's better just to be silent, take the hit and move on. But Kerry seems constitutionally incapable of doing that.

Kerry has been the presumptive Democratic nominee for two months now. Ask yourself: Aside from fund-raising success, has he had a good day? Has he come up with a winning soundbite? Has he made a policy proposal you've heard people talking about?

Bush has had about as bad a time as he could have had these past two months, and he's not only still standing, but doing better than he was a month ago. And why? Because when he takes center stage, as he did in the press conference last week, he usually helps himself.

Not so for Kerry.

Mr. Kerry's problem is actually the opposite of a quiet collapse--it is that he keeps talking. He should really take several months off before people get totally sick of him. There's no shame in losing to a popular incumbent with a booming economy, but at the rate he's going he risks being a James Buchanan or Herbert Hoover who ushers the other party into seven decades of power.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 27, 2004 9:31 AM

In my experience, people who keep saying, "I'm tough" and "I'm a fighter", aren't.

Posted by: David Cohen at April 27, 2004 10:13 AM

Listening to the all-out flood of prompted calls this morning on C-SPAN's Washington Journal trying to change the subject to Bush's National Guard status (I counted nine in a row at one point), the medals controversy and the Charlie Gibson interview can't be tracking well in overnight polling if they have to launch this much of an effort to try and change the subject away from Kerry's contradictory statements.

Posted by: John at April 27, 2004 10:33 AM

Kerry is far too honest for you Republicans.
When he was investigating Iran/Contra, senior Democrats told him to back off, but he wouldn't.
When he was investigating BCCI, important people's jobs were on the line, and he kept at it.

You definitely don't want a dogged pursuer of truth in the White House.

What does your side usually do when threatened? You kill. I wouldn't pay to be in JF Kerry's shoes if he wins unless he picks Nader as VP ;)

Posted by: JSN at April 27, 2004 10:58 AM

Perhaps I'm paranoid but I still expect Kerry, with the help of the media, to pull a "return of the dead" in the fall and if not win it then to make a reasonable showing.

Posted by: AWW at April 27, 2004 10:58 AM


You are probably right (to some degree). Kerry's problems now seem to be minutae, and of interest only to those of us with the political bug. However, if the public at large perceives him to be a multi-faceted poser, he won't shake that by attacking Bush, no matter how venomously. Remember how the perception of Carter changed throughout 1980, from that of a decent man overwhelmed by events to that of a bitter, petty man far too small for the job.

Posted by: jim hamlen at April 27, 2004 12:50 PM


What are you talking about? BCCI took out Democratic fixer Clark Clifford and Iran Contra got rid of the Sandinistas. Let a thousand Kerry dog and pony shows bloom!

Posted by: oj at April 27, 2004 12:51 PM

All right!! A troll!

And one actually tried to say postive things on why its candidate should be voted for, instead of following the lead of its candidate and recycling the same tired old stories about how Bush should be voted against.

But then it couldn't help itself and had to descend into the obligatory name calling, insults and unfounded accusations ("You kill"). Oh, well.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at April 27, 2004 12:58 PM

Kerry reminds me of Gaylord Fokker, the character played by Ben Stiller in "Meet the Parents". When faced with any unpleasant situation, he concocts a lie rather than deal with the truth. Too bad this campaign isn't a comedy. Or maybe it is.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at April 27, 2004 1:43 PM

Actually, I've always wondered why the Brother's Judd don't attract more trolls.

Crushed under the mighty weight of their combined verbiage and reason I suspect.


I've said it before, I'll say it again. Somebody put a fork in Kerry, he's done.

Posted by: H.D. Miller at April 27, 2004 1:45 PM

Agree Raoul, but if you have to go back 14-16 years for your going examples of "moral courage", it doesn't speak very well of the candidate.

Posted by: Jeff at April 27, 2004 2:42 PM

H.D. --

I've wondered about that, too. It's odd, because we keep trying to cultivate them and OJ insists that we treat them respectfully. Which, come to think of it, may be the answer.

Posted by: David Cohen at April 28, 2004 8:55 AM