Skip to comments.The Comeback Prez
Posted on 09/05/2004 8:43:57 PM PDT by COURAGE
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September 6, 2004OP-ED COLUMNIST
The Comeback PrezBy WILLIAM SAFIRE
ashington All that sustained thumb-sucking you heard about this being a polarized electorate, with only a tiny sliver of undecideds, has just ended with a loud pop. Polls that showed John Kerry ahead by a few points going into his convention a month ago now show President Bush up 11 points. That means the old "swing vote" still swings and the battle for voters is in the political center.
The Labor Day Bush trend (which could, by the nature of swing voting, be reversible) has Democratic politicians between dismay and panic. As usual, they are crying foul at a veterans group's answer to Kerry's blunder of running on his Vietnam war and anti-war record. As insiders shake up the staff, outsiders pre-emptively lay the basis for post-election excuses, positioning themselves for embittered told-you-so's.
Longtime Democratic pollsters have been calling journalists to note that the sophisticated "internals" of the current polling were even more gloomy for the Kerry campaign, showing a two-to-one advantage for the president on the paramount issue of the war. Retiring Senator Bob Graham, whose failure to dissociate himself from Pat Buchanan's anti-Israel screed on "Meet the Press" yesterday will not help Democrats in Florida, complains that Kerry's campaign is "still a little out of focus."
Other Democratic pols had harsher advice: no more Mr. Nice Guy. Harold Ickes, the rejected Clintonite who has been directing millions of dollars into supposedly independent TV spots savaging the president, cries that Kerry should "throw caution to the wind." Governor Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania advised that Kerry "has got to start smacking back."
The gibes from his own side caused Kerry to overreact. Instead of moving away from the Vietnam issue, which has been a real toothache for his campaign, he bit down on it. Uncharacteristically, he took the low road, overtly contrasting his war duty with Dick Cheney's draft deferments.
That flailing-out was done more in anger than in calculation. Millions of Americans of draft age in the 1960's who are voters today were deferred from service by virtue of student status or fatherhood. They do not appreciate having their deferment attributed to lack of patriotism. Now Kerry has unnecessarily upset a lot of non-veteran swing voters.
What can swing the pendulum back? What are the presently ascendant Republicans worried about?
Not another new Kerry position on the war in Iraq; he has learned that issue is a loser and no "I shall go to Baghdad" stunt would sway the undecideds. Despite the wishes of both Democrats and Republicans, however, Iraqi insurgents presumably think it is in their interest to increase American casualties in October - thereby to defeat Bush's unequivocal "whatever it takes" policy. Nobody can be certain how a terrorist Tet offensive would affect U.S. politics.
We can be certain that bad economic news, if it comes, will hurt Bush. When the recovery stuttered this summer and Kerry's political fortunes rose, we had a brief "Kerry market" - stocks declined sharply at the prospect of dividend and capital-gains tax increases, recovering along with Bush's recent comeback. If the figures near election time are not good, a worried market will drop as Kerry's stock rises, accentuating investor gloom. Public pessimism cheers the challenger.
And then there are the debates, with all their gaffe potential. In that big moment of the swing voter lies the main hope of the Kerry supporters after their botched Boston convention, its mistaken theme highlighted by the successful G.O.P. affair.
Yet Kerryites cannot hold out hope publicly that their man will out-debate Bush and thereby reverse fortunes lest they raise expectations of a Kerry triumph; in that case, September's much-needed Democratic morale booster would enable Bush to do "better than expected" in October's debates, vitiating any victory. (It's not easy being behind.)
Finally, bouncing Bushies are properly concerned with peaking too soon. Because the media revel in a horse race right down to the wire, any reduction of the present Bush surge will be hailed with a jubilant "Here comes Kerry!"
But the Republicans coming out of their New York success - with a personally popular candidate, a much deeper surrogate bench, the momentum of an upbeat message and a clearly centrist appeal - have good reasons to have faith in the November decision of today's legion of swing voters.
I was about to say "dang" when I saw the name of the paper,but then I saw the writer's name.
To paraphrase a line from Ann Richards keynote speech during the 1988 Dumbascrap convention.
"Poor John, he caint hep it, he was born with a silver foot in his mouth."
The key to sealing this deal is getting the MSM to turn on Jengis John. The SBVs have shown that Kerry could not withstand a true investigative press. Obviously, most MSMers are Dems who gladly prop up his campaign, but they will turn on him under certain circumstances. Most reporters would prefer marching with Hillary in '08 anyway.
This election year focus on micro-managing X
That must be a LIE!! The Democrats would never have such a meanie convention-they're far too sweet and innocent.
Kerry has been active in debate since his prep school days as part of his longterm ambitions to cliam his throne. He is confident in that forum. He is also an unlikeable elitist jerk who can't hide that with his phoney attempts to look like a regular guy. The President, on the other hand, is very real.
Also, Yale, law school, four months on a boat on Vietnamese rivers and leading the charge against his nation and his comrades in arms on his return and 19 lackluster years in the Senate do not a leader make. Our president has leadership qualities that cannot be learned, bought or faked. sKerry can only pout about the unfairness of it all and name call. And finally accept his true calling...LOSER.
Could that be the same Ann Richards President Bush unseated for governor of Texas? The one who ordered more executions per year on average during her term than Governor Bush, but when Governor Bush ran for President the first time her honorable party tried desperately to create the perception he invented capitol punsihment while Governor of Texas? That Ann Richards??
Yep, I read the article before I saw the name and was prematurely amazed that the NYT had such a clear analysis. Then I thought that it is only through the rear-view mirror, but still good. Safire is a small light in the swamp.
"Could that be the same Ann Richards..."
Yep, that would be the one.
That's also why he continues to be under-estimated, yet he won debates against snobby opponents like Richards and Gore.
Now comes Kerry, and you can bet the president will come across and CONNECT with his audience like he always does while Kerry will come off as the snotty Yankee patrician that he is.
I saw that and I was stunned. Pat Buchanan is blaming the Israeli wall on increased hatred for the US. This is the same guy who in 1992 ran on the idea of building a wall between the US and Mexico. (Both sensible ideas, IMO).
Pat also said there were 3 reasons stated by Osama for Jihad against America: * Troops in Saudi Arabia, * sanctions on Iraq and Support for Israel. It seems to me that 2 of the 3 complaints against the USA are now gone. Al-Qaeda should be thrilled.
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