Thursday, January 29, 2004
There She Goes Again
Before Karl Rove goes to bed every night, he must pray for a new National Security Advisor. Condoleeza E. Neuman, in her latest attempt to do damage control, has just shot W.'s regime in the head again:
"But the world "will never know fully" the extent of Iraq's weapons programs because documents and evidence were lost during the looting that took place when Saddam's regime collapsed, she said in an interview on ABC's morning news program."
Really? So the looters didn't just get artifacts from the museums and ammunition from the unguarded stockpiles? What kind of evidence did they get, Condi? Maybe the kind that blows up or poisons people?
If the Democrats do this right, they can inflict a black eye that goes on for days. They can immediately call for an investigation to determine whether WMD were carried off by looters and might be in the hands of the terrorists.
Tomorrow, she'll have to try to dig herself out by saying "We'll never know what evidence was lost, but we are absolutely certain that no one took any nuclear weapons or poison gas."
And when she does, you ask "Well how on earth could you possibly know if the evidence is gone?"
Aside from her utter incompetence in the field of national security, the woman is a public relations nightmare. I almost feel sorry for Rove.
Wednesday, January 28, 2004
Bush-Hating At Its Finest
I expected to need to write a lot of words about what happened tonight. Turns out that I need exactly seven-- a paraphrase of Sally Field:
People hate W. They really, really hate him.
The people who are voting right now want W. out of the White House. And, right now, they're willing to do the unthinkable to achieve it.
Kerry's victory isn't so much about what he said (though he was good). Or what his campaign did (though they did it pretty well). It's simply this-- right now, voters think he's the candidate most likely to win in November. For the second time in a week, people came out in droves to endorse the guy with the best resume and (at the moment) the best posture and the fewest skeletons.
They came out in droves, in miserable weather. People hopped off the fence and onto the bandwagon in nearly historic numbers.
The data I've seen doesn't say that people prefer Kerry's positions on issues to Howard Dean, John Edwards or Wesley Clark. The harder I look at it, the more splits I see, actually. But right now Kerry is everyone's second choice.
The hot-button issue for Dean voters is aggressiveness. They want someone who's going to hammer W. night and day. They want him hammered on Iraq, bashed on the tax cuts and clobbered on every single stinking wingnut stand he's taken. Kerry can't measure up to Dean on that score. But they think he's good enough to tolerate, and he hasn't shown Dean's potential for freakishness. Kerry looks like he stole about 10% of Dean's base by being that.
Edwards voters want likability. They want to vote for someone who doesn't take the ugly political positions of a doctrinarian liberal-- a guy who will stay on the high road as much as humanly possible. But what Edwards doesn't have is the resume. Can someone be ready to be president with no executive experience and only five years in the Senate? I'd guess 8% of his likely voters didn't think so, and they went for the guy with the substance. They're willing to live with Kerry's similarities to Ted Kennedy and his occasional streetfighting.
Clark voters are concerned about strength. They're terrified about the party being perceived as weak on defense and foreign affairs. They don't want a guy who can be painted as soft on those issues. Kerry isn't a general-- in fact, he's a Vietnam War protester, and he's waffled all over the place on Iraq and that seems to bug them. But, by God, he served in the military and he was wounded in battle and he won medals and he was a hero when he was fighting. And that was good enough for 5% of voters who were leaning to Clark, but concerned about the amount of baggage he seems to be carrying.
If the voters continue to show this sort of singleness of purpose-- do what it takes to get that lying, far-right spendthrift scumbag out of our White House-- John Kerry will have a commanding lead the day after "Little Tuesday" next week. He'll beat Edwards by a slim margin in South Carolina, win Missouri in a walk (looks like he's swallowed the Gephardt vote whole) and beat Dean decisively in Arizona and New Mexico.
What you'll also see-- and it'll happen before those elections-- is intense pressure to clean the pond scum out of the pool of candidates. You'll see a flood of defections from the Lieberman, Kucinich and Sharpton camps. Obviously, that won't be easy to detect. But what you will see and hear-- and this will show up in even the most haphazard polling-- is a storm of abuse directed at anyone who dares to muddy the waters by staying in the race.
Remember the backlash against Ralph Nader after the Florida results because known? Increase it in volume and breadth by geometric proportions. The normal eye-rolling and snarking directed at people who keep going through the motions will be absent. It'll be replaced by venomous expressions of outraged and furious hate.
And you could see a small-scale display of that in a hurry if one of the other guys tries to go negative on Kerry. If the attacks don't take hold immediately-- if people feel like one of the supporting players is trying to screw up the script-- their support could vaporize. Attacking John Kerry right now could be an unbelievable gamble-- if it backfires, it would destroy the candidate's political future in an instant.
If this scenario plays out, the wingnuts are in deep, deep trouble. The 2004 election will turn into a vengeful reclamation of the White House. No matter how hard W's regime works to retain control, the electorate won't bite. And there will be snarls of hatred at every cheapjack political hustle they try to pull off.
You think the ocean of contempt and disgust that Pete Rose walked into was something? If this trend holds, you ain't seen nothing yet. 2004 could become the most uplifting and heartwarming campaign in my lifetime. This could dwarf even the tremendous swell of jubilation that occurred the last time a Bush ran for re-election.
Tuesday, January 27, 2004
Castles Made of Sand?
The other likely possibility is that the Kerry tide will break, leaving the Democratic party in a quagmire deep enough to swallow the Vietnam War whole. The post above ascribes a combined 23%-- almost 60% of Kerry's 39%-- to people who liked someone else better than Kerry, but swallowed their preferences and went with the guy they thought had the best chance to win.
The perception of inevitability-- invulnerability, if you prefer-- can be a huge asset to a campaign. But it's an incredibly unstable foundation on which to build. I've seen campaigns that looked unstoppable turn into a replay of the last half-hour of The Man Who Would Be King. As long as everyone thinks you're unstoppable, they'll lay down their arms. But the minute people realize that you're human, the people who were for you because you looked like the chosen one bail. And when they split, they go back to their original favorite with a vengeance.
All it takes is one bite on the cheek-- one attack that lands, one small-scale stumble or seemingly-minor gaffe.
After Kerry's performance, the keys, as I see it, are the tactics of the opponents, the mood of the voters and the available resources of the campaigns. If the opponents play safe-- if Kerry doesn't have to defend himself because they don't go after him-- he wins.
If someone tries something and it plays with the voters in some state-- if there's not an immediate voter backlash-- he's going to have to work. And if he's short of money or support-- if his canmpaign looks like it blew everything on Iowa and New Hampshire and has nothing left-- there'll be trouble.
If Kerry can keep his feet for two weeks, the primary season will be over. If he doesn't, this could go all the way through the season-- maybe even to the convention.
I don't think it'll happen-- but, trust me, it is very possible. And it really looks ugly when it does happen.