By Besha Rodell
By Patrick Range McDonald
By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
Kerry’s campaign strategy reminds me of nothing so much as the Dewey campaign of ’48, which assumed that Truman was so unpopular his opponent need make no waves. The empty vapidness of “Let America Be America Again” — the latest in a series of contentless Kerry campaign slogans — isn’t going to convince the wavering that Kerry has a vision. The notion of Kerry as a waffling Pander Bear, hammered home by Bush’s unanswered spring TV blitz and reinforced by an unending series of Kerry gaffes and pirouettes that weaken turnout by his base (like the one just days ago on abortion, or being against an anti-gay marriage amendment federally but for one in Massachusetts), is firmly implanted in the minds of much of the electorate, as many polls show. Dispelling it will require more than feeble triangulations. And Kerry has no strategy to combat the hot-button GOP strategy of gay-baiting in battleground states like Michigan, where the homo-haters just turned in 500,000 signatures to put an anti-gay marriage referendum on the ballot in November there, as they’ve done already in half a dozen other states so far to encourage turnout by Bush’s base (this is an issue which cuts heavily with Latinos, a whopping 36 percent of whom are for W in this week’s Gallup poll).
Left voices like yours and mine should be pressing for a major course correction by Kerry to win this election before it’s too late.
The political director of a major union tells me that when his shop polled members in swing states it was surprised to find these workers were actually excited by Kerry. Who knew? As much as I would be delighted to see a Democrat support universal health care and a big-spending, jobs-creating program to revive our crappy infrastructure (while not expanding the already grotesque deficit), I am less convinced such a strategy guarantees success. Otherwise — to repeat — Kucinich would be king. And Ralph Nader would have cracked 3 percent last time. As for Iraq, the U.S. is now committed to withdrawing troops by the end of next year, and that’s the U.N. position. I doubt that if Kerry dumped his current stance (try to internationalize the mess and muddle through a problem not of his making) and called for a quick withdrawal (which could lead to civil war and a weak state useful for Islamic terrorists) the American electorate would embrace him. With the release of the Senate WMD report, Kerry has intensified his assault on Bush’s credibility. And since some polls have shown Kerry in the lead and more trusted than Bush, methinks the impact of Bush’s assault on Kerry has not been as great as the Bushies hoped.
“Let America Be America” is silly, but Kerry offers more than slogans, as noted above — even if not all his content is as bold or as left as progressives would prefer. Instead of dwelling on his obvious flaws, I would urge Dems and progs to emphasize the progressive attributes Kerry does possess. Face it: This guy is unlikely to become
bolder in policy or style in the coming weeks.
Any citizen who cares about this land should fret. Kerry may be rated the most liberal senator, but he is no crusader, and he is up against an Evil Empire. That he is still in the hunt has me less worried than earlier this year. Dare I say that on Election Day it might be possible to vote one’s (pro-Kerry) hopes and not just one’s (anti-Bush) fears.
“Kerry Fails To Capitalize on Bush’s Bad Press” was the Boston Globeheadline about the new Pew/Rosensteil study. Rosensteil summarized its findings thusly: Voters had an “indistinct” impression of Kerry, and “the only theme that more of the public saw as best describing Kerry rather than Bush was that he was a flip-flopper.” Complacency in the face of Kerry’s hyper-caution will not help defeat Bush. And there’s an old Russian proverb: An optimist is only a pessimist who has not yet heard the bad news.