September 4, 2004


Bush's tactical victory (Tom Carver, 9/04/04, BBC)

George Bush is a master at disguising the punch.

In 2000, he fooled Al Gore into underestimating his talent as a politician, causing Mr Gore to overreach.

This time, he has forced John Kerry to have the wrong conversation with the voters.

When he should have been telling the voters his plan for the future, Mr Kerry has been spending his time talking about the past, believing that Vietnam was the way to establish his credibility.

Consequently, when the Republicans raised doubts about Mr Kerry's service in Vietnam last month, he had nothing to fall back on.

Is there anybody left who still thinks the Democratic Convention was a success?

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 4, 2004 8:06 PM

I can't get over the "forced" comment.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at September 4, 2004 10:20 PM

It's even worse than that. If it becomes conventional wisdom that the Kerry campaign is incompetent - and that appears to be the jelling consensus - a landslide is quite possible. By staking his claim to office on superior competence, any whiff of disorganization in the operational side is deadly.

"They say they can do a better job running the military campaign and they can't even run a political campaign? They say they can do a better job dropping the bombs when they can't even drop balloons?"

Posted by: mike earl at September 4, 2004 10:24 PM

Nice palindrome. Surprising that Kerry didn't use it at the convention. But for him, Vietnam was always Richard Nixon's war.

Posted by: jim hamlen at September 4, 2004 10:47 PM

Much as I think Dubya is a smart guy and runs a smart team, nothing forced Kerry to screw up. He did that by himself, he's a bush league pol thrown by a bizzare election year dynamic into a nomination his talents never warrented.

Like Steyn says, the democratic primaries were a race to define yourself as "none of the above" and Kerry was the ultimate none.

Posted by: Amos at September 4, 2004 11:12 PM

If the Kerry campaign really wanted to at least try and get their campaign turned around, without having to hope Dan Rather delivers up Bush's 13-year-old love child or some other scandalous revelation on "60 Minutes" here's what they should do:

Go one full week without mentioning Vietnam.

It doesn't have to be all eight of the final weeks of the campaign without uttering the word. Just one. Just go one week without using Vietnam as the end-all, be-all of the campaign, and force the senator to say something about his future plans for the country or something about what he's done in the last quarter-century to deserve the presidency.

It's an area where Kerry and his handlers have been fearful to tread, and to most normal people it would be aout like trying to find palm trees at the South Pole. But the senator is going to have to at least show enough discipline to produce some sort of positive rationale to vote for him, instead of hoping a war he fought in before half the current U.S. population was born and a hostile media against Bush is gping to be enough to put him in 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. come January.

Posted by: John at September 4, 2004 11:19 PM

I ran across this very perceptive estimate from a Russian journalist a month or so ago on some blog--amazing how an outsider can see to the essence of a situation sometimes more clearly than an insider--

To a great degree there is no Democratic party candidate John Kerry.
There is an abstract "anti-Bush" candidate who has been compelled, in
accordance with the US electoral system, to take on human form and
assume a human name...

The weakness of his positive programme, his sombre mien, so unusual
for an American... and finally, his unique, from the American point of
view, potential first lady, create the impression that Kerry is not
destined for victory at all.

Sergei Lopatnikov in Russia's Russky Kuryer

Posted by: John Cunningham at September 5, 2004 12:45 AM

Stealth candidate revealed on radar and shot down by a Swift Boat; after action report reveals.

Posted by: Genecis at September 5, 2004 11:53 AM

Mike Earl: You're exactly right -- Kerry's campaign disorganization undermines his fundamental claim to presidential competency.

But I must admit, the same sort of thought flashed through my head when I saw the protesters infiltrating the convention during Bush's speech. Didn't exactly help the "security" pitch.

Posted by: Semolina Pilchard at September 5, 2004 12:07 PM

The upcoming 60 minutes appearance by Ben Barnes, seems to show signs of the same bad staffing. Barnes was in Geneva in 1968; when Bush was in
ducted in the National Guard; He became Lt. Gov.
the following year; where couldn't have had been
involved in the organizing of the'Champagne' unit

Posted by: narciso at September 5, 2004 2:46 PM