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Re: Probative - Dang!

I have to admit that I'm not exactly happy with the presidential election. I don't like either of them. I think this was an election the Democrats could have won easily, but because the party is so divided (and spiteful) because of the war, we ended up first with Dean and then with Kerry. And Kerry has shown he has a very real chance of blowing what should have been an easy election.

The conventional wisdom (CW) is that Kerry's luck changed because of the swift boat ads. I don't buy it. I've not heard anyone but rabid Bush fans saying much about the swift boat stuff. What really changed things, I think, was Kerry's inability to articulate a message of what he would do different from Bush in military matters. Further Kerry keeps talking about other issues. Admittedly they are issues where he is stronger than Bush. But I think most people recognize that the recession and 911 affect the economy so that the Democratic talking point isn't fair. Further I think everyone thinks that military matters is problem #1. Kerry's response to that has been "trust me, I was in Vietnam." That isn't comforting. When Bush came out at the convention with a strong vision people felt better towards him. Admittedly Bush still has all the flaws and frankly a lot of incompetence. But Kerry has only a "trust me" as an answer to Bush. And I don't think that is enough.

Yes the protests after Vietnam have a lot to do with that. Those things are mighty comforting to a certain segment of Kerry's base, but don't exactly clarify what Kerry would do. Further Kerry in trying to keep both sides of his base together, is wishy washy on this issue. I don't think it is really flip-flopping and I think a lot of Republican attacks on that are unfair. But they work only because Kerry never came out with a strong impassioned statement of what he would do. At best we have "I'll do what Bush says, only better." As I said, that's not enough.

I'd say that while I don't think Kerry has the time to reverse this anymore, that he still ought to try. But instead, thinking that the swift boats did Kerry in, the Kerry campaign is trying the same thing on Bush. First off I don't think it'll work. At best it may take a few votes. But Bush's "mythology" is based upon a change of who he was from his earlier partying. Further the critique of Bush's military record only works if you think Kerry's record somehow entails him being President. Yet as I said, I just don't think people care that much about what happened 30 - 40 years ago. I just don't. They want more recent information - and Kerry has yet to talk about his 20 years in the Senate as showing much about what he'd do as President.

Perhaps the debates will change this. But my sense is that Kerry will focus on exactly the wrong stuff.

I think you're on the right track, Clark. Even if he had a clearly articulated message, Kerry would be at a disadvantage right now with so much focus on foreign affairs and war, which naturally shines a light on the sitting President. But given that Kerry doesn't really have a message yet apart from "I'm not Bush," he seems to have no airtime left to craft and communicate a "message" of sufficient impact to catch people's attention. The Democratic Convention would have been good for that, wouldn't it?

As you said, I think it was surprisingly the contrast between the two conventions.

However at this stage, most of the undecideds are those most likely to be swayed by emotion and not reason. So I think there still is a chance to win, depending upon how Bush does. However Kerry's debate strength is in policy while Bush's has always been in emotion. Bush typically loses the policy debate and wins people over due to emotion and demeanor.

So it'll be very difficult.

I'd add that the various liberal blogs like Brad DeLong's have become increasingly shrill and even brag about it. Same with Matthew Yglesias. It's sad as it undermines their message. (Same point I made about apologetics yesterday) I think there really are a tremendous number of places to criticize Bush, but those who hate him end up as often as not being counterproductive in their attacks.

As an "anybody but Bush" voter, I think you guys (Clark and Dave) are barking up the right tree. Unfortunately, Mr. Kerry has allowed his campaign to be dictated by the President. The major issue is terrorism and the Iraq war - issues where Bush has obvious vulnerabilities, but where Kerry has positioned himself so close to the President's position that he can't be effectively critical.

You are also correct that Matt Yglesias (one of my favorite bloggers) has unfortunately become shrill, but its not difficult to understand. Quite frankly, that whole flap over Kerry's medals was just sickening.

Laurence, I agree the whole episode attacking Kerry for the medals was in poor taste. I suspect for those who were in Vietnam, it is universally recognized that the whole goal was to survive and get home, and that 100% accuracy in filing military reports was (1) a virtue rarely achieved, and (2) not even considered a virtue. Geez, the military spent years lying about being in Cambodia, Johnson lied about the Tonkin Gulf to get Congress to authorize the war, plenty of US draftees lied to get out of serving . . . and I'm supposed to care because Kerry might have exaggerated on the report that was the basis for his medals?

If Republicans really wanted a bona fide hero as President, they would have nominated McCain, not Bush, in 2000. They can't really complain now that Kerry isn't enough of a hero to deserve votes in the present election.

I found a lot of the swift boat claims rather distasteful as well. However to be fair I think they had a lot of good points about the charges Kerry made about war crimes with the insinuation they were by the other swift boat folks. I'd have been pissed too. I'd also note that two of their charges appear to have been correct. One of the medals was accidentally self inflicted and Kerry's claims about black ops in Cambodia were false. The other charges were weak and shouldn't have been made unless there was more evidence. Further they were in poor taste.

However l'd note that in part, Democrats brought all this on themselves by first nominating an amazingly divisive figure who was such a central figure in the anti-war protests. To be frank, that was stupid of them. Secondly to make Kerry's Vietnam service central to his campaign. There for about a month and a half his answer to everything was "I was in Vietnam." He's *still* frequently saying that for heavens sake. I don't think many would care about these sorts of things, except that if Kerry says he ought to be commander in chief because of Vietnam, where are we supposed to look to see if we agree? You can't make Vietnam both the basis of your claim to Presidency and simultaneously make it out of bounds. I think that, along with what to me was harping on Vietnam in bad taste in the Democratic convention hurt Kerry. Kerry's still doing it by once again (try number 3?) dredging up Bush's war record so as to highlight the difference. Why? Because Kerry's only claim is he was better than Bush in Vietnam. How many times have you heard Kerry speak about what he did in the Senate? That's what I think is relevant but he refuses to discuss it.

Is this the Bloggernacle's first Texas blogger?

My brother Jordan and I both grew up in Dallas, although neither of us currently lives in TX.

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