Why Kerry Will Lose, Chapter XXIV…

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A while back on this very blog, Tim Cavanaugh declared that "Bush is a lock." Even in a coutry renowned (and reviled) for its short attention span, such a bold, unqualified prediction is pretty gutsy, especially when most polls have Dubya down by several points.

I don't share my colleague's certitude, but a feature on today's Salon (subscription or sitting through tedious commercial required) makes me think that Kerry's supporters are deluded enough that the Boston Brahmin is going to tank faster than Kitty Dukakis at a Sterno trade show.

Titled "How Should Kerry Talk About Values?" and featuring contributions from the likes of liberal and leftoid playaz ranging from Thomas Frank to Andrew Greeley to Barney Frank, all the advisers harp on the need to stress old-time notions of equal opportunites and fairness. Well, sure, but they also seem to think that Kerry–a bazillioniare blowhard who works crowds like the Frankenstein monster terrorizing villagers–is a great messenger to the plebes.

Bill Clinton could pull that off, if only because he embodied the upward striving of the mythic American Dream; if he wasn't born in a log cabin, he came close enough for most people. Indeed, his mother and brother, often considered embarrassments by the press, were fantastic campaign props that helped make Clinton more likable, rather than less. For reasons that aren't fully clear, some of that shtick has rubbed off on George W. Bush. Though of the manor born, Dubya, by identifying with West Texas, downplaying his Ivy League pedigree, appearing comfortable jostling and joshing with voters, and even choosing golf as his most visible form of recreation–pace Michael Moore, golf in the South is no longer a game of the elite but one of the masses–has managed to come close to seeming jes' plain folks.

In contrast, Kerry, the windsurfing ski bum who married the mint, has zero common touch. If Dems are expecting Kerry's love of the common man to help carry the day, they better start working on the Hillary in '08 campaign now.

NEXT: Foreign Policy: Blowin' in the Wind

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  1. Regardless of whether or not I’m eager to believe conservative rhetoric, most Americans associate rich politicians with avarice, and Kerry isn’t likely to score a lot of points by hurling invective at Halliburton from the top of his pile of money.

  2. “The New Republic understands working-class white males about as well as I understand Cantonese.”

    Yeah – and about as well as Joe understands
    “how most Americans feel”!

  3. I suspect your eagerness to believe conservative rhetoric – domestic spending=class war – is blinding you to how most Americans feel. Most Americans don’t hate people or corporations for having money, they hate those who have money and use it to screw people or buy themselves favors.

    Joe,

    You must have been sleeping during the entire “tax refund” debate, right?

  4. Ken,

    I disagree. It isn’t about money, it is about shady innuendo. What will kill Bush is not that he is rich, but that he has been painted very successfully by Dems as the embodiment of Secretive Power In Bed with Nefarious Interests.

    Halliburton doesn’t invoke an anti money position, it invokes a secret conspiracy to bilk the taxpayer for Cheney’s benefit. The mechanics of all this are unclear, just like the Saudi connection is unclear, but by golly somethin’ just ain’t right. Somebody jus’ tookmahjob, and heads are gonna roll! Who benefits from all this? Halliburton, thats who!

    That sort of thing.

  5. I have again updated my position to stay home and cry.

    My official history is:

    1) Vote Bush because Kerry wants to raise taxes and spend more and is worse on guns.

    2) Vote Kerry to send a message to Bush and gridlock congress.

    3) Vote Libertarian as the principle vote. Oh, crap, they nominated another clown. Nevermind.

    4) Stay home and cry.

    5) Vote Bush because he will start acting like a conservative when he doesn’t have to worry about reelection.

    6) Stay home and cry.

  6. I’m gonna put my “Even If You Think Badnarik’s A Clown, You Should Vote For Him Because It’s The Best Way to Register Your Opposition to The War and Your Opposition to The Patriot Act” record again, in spite of the fact that it’s worn out the needle on my record player.

  7. That’s assuming, of course, that you were against the War and the Patriot Act.

  8. I always find it amusing that people who make claims about “most Americans” in comments sound the least like Americans I know. This applies to liberal and conservative posters alike.

  9. I’m gonna put my “Even If You Think Badnarik’s A Clown, You Should Vote For Him Because It’s The Best Way to Register Your Opposition to The War and Your Opposition to The Patriot Act” record again, in spite of the fact that it’s worn out the needle on my record player.

    If I wanted to vote for Nader, I’d just go ahead and do it.

  10. You’re right Josh; I should have run on with, “…who isn’t a statist son of a bitch.”

  11. Huh?,

    The Americans you know don’t associate rich politicians with avarice?

  12. Actually, Mr. Schultz, one hopes the Libertarian Party gets the message… stop nominating clowns.

  13. Ken Shultz,

    The Americans I know associate rich politicians with avarice if the politicians is of the political party they do not support. If the politician is of the party they support, the politician is a “successful business person, attorney, etc.”

    One man’s avarice is another man’s virtue.

  14. Ken,

    I didn’t and don’t oppose the war. It was a tough deicsion that needed to be made. The principle being invoked by the LP for me is limited government. I don’t think the LP has any sense at all when it comes to defense or foreign policy. The whole beware foreign entanglements concept is invoked as an answer to every problem, and if I hear the term blowback a few more times without recognition that sitting on your butt also has negative consequences, I’ll be ill.

  15. Huh?

    Seriously, do you (and do you suppose “most Americans”) equate rich liberals with avarice? I’m always hearing from conservatives that liberals hate the rich, and are out to harm them with punitive taxation (34%, I’m going to faint!), redistribution, etc. etc. etc. It seems a little silly to me to level a charge of avarice at somebody for…voting to raise his own taxes.

    Am I missing something?

  16. Am I missing something?

    You’re missing the animus among a large number of taxpayers/voters against the notion that the money they earn is forfeit to bureaucrats unless they can justify a need to keep it, as well as the idea that said animus is selfish and irrational (34%, I’m going to faint!).

  17. Joe, nice way to grab the wrong end of the stick, then run with it.

    You said: Most Americans don’t hate people or corporations for having money, they hate those who have money and use it to screw people or buy themselves favors.

    During the whole tax rebate debate all I heard from the opponents (mostly Democrats) were how this “benefited the rich and screwed the poor.” Mind you there was no substantive debate about exactly how it did either; it was just always assumed. The rebate opponent?s entire argument consisted of “the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer.”

    As for and are out to harm them with punitive taxation (34%, I’m going to faint!)

    I take it you slept through Regan?s tax cut as well. Its “only” 34% thanks mainly to the Gipper. The “rich” used to take it in the ass to the tune of 70%, and the left bitched and moaned about that tax break too.

  18. …both very interesting, and both completely irrelevant to my question.

  19. Jose Ortega y Gasset,

    I feel your pain, but, to me, registering my dissatisfaction with the War, the Patriot Act and Donald Rumsfeld’s lack of accountability is more important than trying to teach Libertarian convention delegates some kind of lesson.

  20. “The Americans I know associate rich politicians with avarice if the politicians is of the political party they do not support. If the politician is of the party they support, the politician is a “successful business person, attorney, etc.”

    One man’s avarice is another man’s virtue.”

    So what about swing voters?

  21. …both very interesting, and both completely irrelevant to my question.

    … just like your original reply to mine.

  22. He doesn’t need to do anything other than say things like, “But I’m not Bush,” and “Halliburton.”

    The success of his campaign depends on his not trying too hard. He should capitalize on the fact that no one will demand a plan from him as long as he is simply not Bush. If he keeps talking about jobs, someone might get around to asking him how he plans on creating them out of thin air, and only good ones, too.

  23. “….appearing comfortable jostling and joshing with voters….”

    “Appearing” is the key word here. Bush never appears in any venue where the audience hasn’t been carefully cherry-picked, and any possible bearers of discouraging words banished to the outer realms of the Free Speech Zone. It’s hard enough for Rove to point him at the teleprompter and keep him on script without distractions.

  24. In contrast, Kerry, the windsurfing ski bum who married the mint, has zero common touch.

    Though I’m (unhappily) voting for the guy, I note that this sentence made me laugh — and cry. Why can’t he just play touch football??

  25. “Kerry–a bazillioniare blowhard who works crowds like the Frankenstein monster terrorizing villagers…”

    Just wanted to let you know hot tea streaming out of my nose is not an unpainful thing.

  26. “He doesn’t need to do anything other than say things like, “But I’m not Bush,” and “Halliburton.”

    I suspect the Halliburton thing doesn?t play well coming from someone who married a pile of money, and as far as differentiating himself from Bush, what issue is he going to do that on, free trade? Kerry has refused to significantly differentiate himself on the issue, the War.

    The swing vote isn’t going to break one way or the other over environmental policy this time around, but if Kerry had given us more of a choice by going against the Patriot Act or taking a stand on Gay Marriage, he might not be in the same kind of danger that he?s in right now, and I think Kerry’s biggest danger is being seen as Bush-lite. Why vote for an imitation when you can vote for the real thing?

  27. You’re basically talking about white working class voters. Kerry does not need to win among this group, just lose by less than 10%. And Jason analyzes them just right – Bush is losing them, and Kerry could pick them up by default.

    Good article in The New Republic about this demo.

  28. “I suspect the Halliburton thing doesn?t play well coming from someone who married a pile of money”

    I suspect your eagerness to believe conservative rhetoric – domestic spending=class war – is blinding you to how most Americans feel. Most Americans don’t hate people or corporations for having money, they hate those who have money and use it to screw people or buy themselves favors.

  29. Good article in The New Republic about this demo.

    The New Republic understands working-class white males about as well as I understand Cantonese.

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