August 25, 2004

Is Kerry stupid or wise?

It seems that Kerry is all the there is to talk about these days. I'm rather suprised at the simplistic and sweeping generalizations I've been reading from both sides. While a rare few bloggers (Anticipatory Retaliation) examines the possible viability of a Kerry Presidency, many, many more have posted about Kerry's intellectual and experiential assets, or lack thererof, as a candidate. To some he's an insightful and intelligent choice. To others, like Mark Steyn he is downright stupid. (via BarcePundit).

I'm not of the thinking that Kerry is either. With credentials like his (several degrees, including one from Harvard Law School), he could be called slimy, a liar or even an opportunist, but never inept or stupid. Let me explain why.

Having worked in Washington as a lobbyist, and with both parties in NY State’s legislature and in congress, I think I know and understand the Democratic National Committee's (DNC) process and thinking in their selection of Presidential Candidates. It is the same thinking that enabled them to consider Clinton despite the accusations against him for sexual misconduct during his tenure as Governor of Arkansas. He successfully navigated the waters of criticism and outrage during his Presidential campaigns of 1992 and 1996.

How did the leaders of the DNC approve Kerry as a Democratic candidate? Simple, first they looked at the sentiments of their constituency (DNC voter base) and what their key issues were for the mid-term congressional elections Then they either approach or are approached by those who fit that mold. Kerry fits the later category.

Second, they looked at Kerry’s qualifications (the committees he serves on, voting record, background, personal and professional organizations he belongs to, financial status, public statements, personal lives of he and Teresa, to see if it matches with their voters base demographics and issues.

After this, the DNC looks at his electability, presence, likeability and trustworthiness. I'm not even remotely kidding about this. The DNC even does focus groups just on that aspect alone. It is well known in Washington DC that Kerry paid for his own focus groups to test his electability strength, 14 months before he threw his name in the ring.

Once all this analysis is completed, the DNC gathers this information together and meets with DNC leadership to carefully review the results, in order to asses the candidate's worthiness or viability of getting him into the White House. In Kerry's case, it was a real plus that he had such a powerful and affluent wife that could financially out spend Bush.

To those who think it was stupid for a former Vietnam veteran turned anti-war, political activist to suddenly use his military record as the cornerstone of their campaign, I say 'think again'. The members of the DNC and Kerry/Edwards campaign are NOT stupid. Misguided perhaps. A self-seeking opportunist definitely! But Kerry, stupid? No way, far from it!

I believe the DNC's thinking is that Kerry can do better than Clinton did (with his sexual harassment accusers) and go further. Well, Kerry will soon enough as he's hired one of the best media spinners there is in this country. This spin guru will make sure Kerry's Vietnam record will not turn into a liability but rather a positive issue.

In Clinton’s case, the spin guru portrayed him as a man's man that just couldn't help himself because he was married to an unattractive wife. Poor Mr. Clinton worked very long hours next to a beautiful office staffer (Jennifer Flowers), who was infatuated with him. In fact, many men thought it was understandable as a one time thing; besides, it was her fault as she threw herself at him. How could he say no? So, instead of his philandering becoming an issue, it was eventually spun into a private matter between a husband and wife, and NOT a big deal. We were told by pundits and the Dem leadership, lets consider everything he has to offer and the alternatives. Is it worth throwing out such an excellent candidate for some momentary indiscretion or the imaginary accusations of an infatuated employee?

No, instead we were told to focus on the alternative, a Bush reelection. A 2nd term by a man who broke his promises, ran up a deficit, raised taxes and mired us in double digit inflation as a result of the Gulf War. A war that was fought without consultation and assistance from our allies or tacit approval from Arab leaders.

Does all this seem familiar to you? Well if it does, you get a gold star and get to sit up front with the teacher. It's familiar because it's the same "campaign playbook" that was used by the Dems against W's father. They just dusted off the binder and put in new names and with updated stats.

Kerry will soon turn the plummeting polls around by ingratiating himself in the hearts and minds of all those undecided voters; all thanks to his new spin guru. This guru will come up with plenty of plausible explanations to occupy everyone's minds once the Republican convention hype dies down. That is, his guru will work on these spins if Al Qaeda doesn't beat him to the punch.

An additional factor Kerry is counting on is the public getting more bad coverage/news from Iraq. Just as the backlash voters in Spain decided who to vote for based on the tragic attack a few days before their election, so will the undecided voters in the US consider the prevailing situation and news in the last days before our election. The DNC is all too familiar with this phenomenon and is banking on Kerry winning based on the data from polls and surveys.

As for the subsequent question: How will Kerry convince undecided voters that he is the guy he's portrayed to be? That's simple, make your opponent look worse than you, stupider, more evil, and someone who'll bring about the world's destruction, and afterwards you'll look pretty good to just about anyone. How will they manage to accomplish this, ahhh, easy. They have something up their sleeve! Yes, I’m just waiting for the other shoe to drop to learn what it is.

Which begs the question: Why haven’t they come out and used any ammunition (which I suspect they have) on countering the Swift Boat Vets or George's negative comments? One word answer - TIMING!

To reveal anything now, would mean that it would be immediately overshadowed by the events at the Republican National Convention. We must also remember there’s that little detail about the Bush candidacy, he is not the official Republican Presidential candidate as of yet. Which means that if stuff were to hit the fan before or during the convention, John McCain, the current darling of the Republican party and of Independent/Undecided voters everywhere, McCain could easily step in and get the nomination. Sorry, Cheney’s out of the running immediately after GW's candidacy is thwarted, but that’s a post for another occasion.

So, in view of all this, I would like to predict here and now, that approximately 10-14 days after the convention, the Kerry camp will drop the bomb other shoe on Bush, thereby giving bloggers everywhere, like Glenn Reynolds, lots to write about until the election.

Posted by Michele at August 25, 2004 12:28 AM

I agree that anything outside the last half of October is basically noise. It's what comes out in the final two weeks that'll make the difference.

Any speculations as to what Kerry has up his sleeve?

I suspect Bush will be hammering hard on Kerry's voting absences, flip-flops, and higher-taxes voting record.

I'm not sure WHAT Kerry can use. Bush has been pretty solid since he's been elected. Maybe try to spin some economic figures and hope no one remembers that 9/11 had a heavy economic impact.

Posted by: Harvey at August 26, 2004 01:12 PM

Yes, he does seem intelligent, he probably is, but somehow I can't get over the stupidity of putting forth his record. That's the straw that broke this cammel's back.

Posted by: Melissa at August 26, 2004 07:20 PM

From what I understand, much of the Democratic A-Team campagin staff are sitting this one out. It would go a ways to explaining why they have had such problems with campaign managment.

Posted by: Bravo Romeo Delta at August 27, 2004 02:34 PM


Posted by: jessica simpson at August 31, 2004 01:11 PM