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The Tally Ho

Friday, September 17, 2004


Joshua Marshall from Talking Points Memo posted a reader comment.
Here's a note from a long-time social progressive/economic conservative who has gone increasingly progressive since Bush took office:

Bush's Guard service is a loser for the Dems even if the dereliction stories are entirely true, which they likely are. The problem is that nobody cares other than Democrats who despise Bush, and they seem like just a petty reaction to the Swift Boat ads. I would love for this election to be about the environment, choice on abortion, separation of church and state, invasion of privacy/Patriot Act, the economy, and the culture of fear the Bush admin is creating. But it's about Iraq and terrorism. Unfortunately, Kerry has done a terrible job of getting out any cohesive and compelling message about either. Here's what he needs to hammer for the remainder:

1. Bush is A TERRIBLE LEADER IN THE "WAR ON TERROR". He has failed in the hunt for Osama, misdeployed resources, and put off allies who are key to our long-term success against terrorism. Look beyond the macho swagger of Bush and see that he is completely screwing up this incredibly important long-term battle.
2. Bush and the neocon puppet masters deceived the nation into Iraq, then completely blew the execution of a horrible war, costing us more than a thousand soldiers and billions of dollars, killing countless innocent Iraqis, and creating a disastrous and extremely dangerous situation for America for years to come.
3. Bush has blown the economy.
4. Kerry is the man to put America and the world on course for a better future.

Kerry must not only make these points, he must be pissed off about them. Undecided voters are not compelled to vote by Kerry's suggestion that he can do Bush better than Bush. They, and the party voters we need to inspire to actually cast ballots, will respond to Kerry's passionate belief that Bush is seriously taking this country down a bad path and that Kerry can take us on a safer, more prosperous path. Unfortunately, Kerry's voting record on Iraq prohibits him from taking the real winning stand that the Iraq war was a horrible mistake. So he must refocus on the idea that Bush is a horrible president whose decisions are having disastrous consequences. Kerry has to want to lead this country, and he needs to show Americans that he wants badly to lead this country.

Thanks for your great work. Scott

I agree with much of what Scott wrote to Mr. Marshall. The Texas Air National Guard controversy actually helps Bush because as it eats up more and more media cycles it keeps health care, education, choice, Iraq, and the environment off the front pages and lead stories - while seemingly doing nothing to hurt Bush's "wartime" credibility. TANG won’t undermine his credibility, showing how they botched Iraq does. I still think this is true: Democrats win with issues while Republicans win with nostalgia for a time that never existed and moral outrage. One website I looked at a poster was voting on abortion. He basically said that he couldn't vote for a pro-choice candidate. The mother of a friend voted for Bush over Gore in 2000 for the same exact reason - even while basically admitting that Gore was better. On the Al Frankin show last week they had one of their bbq shows where they check in at a local bbq with a majority conservative audience. This time it was at a place in Atlanta. One customer said he was voting anti-French. As he saw it the French were in Vietnam, Kerry was in Vietnam, and Bush wasn't - so he was voting Bush. While this guy had to be joking, another guest said he was a Democrat voting for Bush because Kerry didn't share his values. Frankin questioned him and it sounded like the "hes from Massachusetts, I'm from Georgia" BS
(as if Northern liberals and moderates decided to vote against Clinton/Gore b/c Big Dog and Al didn't share their "values" – other than St. Ralph’s followers who like to feel good - okay, that is too harsh - and as if being from CT and living in a TX town where the first streets on that side of town were named after Ivy League institutions makes you somehow "southern" or “Texan”, and that gives him the ability to relate? In Kevin Phillips book he says the difference between the Bush family and other powerful families are that they moved to the right state). So a Democrat won't vote for Kerry, supposedly based on personality - because it isn't on accomplishments. The White House paints Kerry as "an unaccomplished Senator" while Bush has a record of sliding by. Supposedly wasn’t a great prep school student, average student at Yale and yet somehow accepted into a Harvard MBA program. 41 gets him into the TANG, he can't find oil in Texas and then becomes Governor, which is mostly a figure head position. I guess those are the "values" that the gentleman was looking for. Or perhaps it is not allowing for reimportation of prescription drugs, or perhaps a unilateral war in Iraq with no exit strategy, or prison abuse, or massive deficit spending, or outing a CIA agent. Meanwhile Kerry finished his military service, was a prosecutor, Lt. Gov., he has been a public servant for his entire adult life. So are the values then being against having everyone having health care, against equity in our schools and other public institutions?

My question though, what are "values" in a political race? I was temped to babble something about the difference between public and private morals. But it seems as if relating to a candidate is somehow important. You hear the pundits say picture of the Heinz-Kerry family skiing or wind surfing is bad while Bush mountain biking or throwing a baseball is good. That Bush pronounced Lambaugh Field correctly while Kerry didn’t. During the primary Edwards was on WNYC saying that he was the one to beat Bush because not only did he have the right campaign and policy, but he had the right accent. Does this crap really matter? One relative doesn’t want to vote for Bush, but Kerry has been made so unacceptable by the “flip-flop” meme and other ridiculousness. But somehow, despite the deficit, the lies and bungling of Iraq, the corporate cronyism, Kerry is the one that has been made unacceptable. So is Bush succeeding at making swing voters question Kerry’s competence instead of Bush’s accomplishments, or lack there of? Of course I am not the most objective. I am not ABB, I am actually a Sen. Kerry supporter and wanted a Mr. Kerry-Mr. Edwards ticket in 2000. While I may have preferred Gov. Richardson as the veep this time around, this is a very good ticket. But perhaps the real differences are that Bush supporters don’t see BushCo as a failed administration, or aren’t just in denial about Iraq.

Because it took up four comments due to character limits, links do not work well in Haloscan, this is Elwood's response:
A lot of this is just the effects of a very, very professional ad campaign. I talked to an actual swing voter yesterday, a black yuppie girl who just moved to Chicago from the South. She supports Obama, doesn't know about Kerry b/c "flip-flops", just like the Rep ads say. Now you KNOW that language comes from the ad campaigns, because who in the hell says "flip-flop" in real life unless they are talking about footware? These ads have been very strong.

Kerry is hanging in there, mostly because most people sense Bush's failure. I mean, he's NEVER used a veto. He SUPPORTED the assault weapons ban, but didn't know how to get it passed! He's as bad as Carter at running the country - name one thing he's accomplished domestically that wasn't a tax cut! And what about Osama - obviously he'd love to catch the guy, it would greatly help his re-election. Yet read here: CIA Officer: al-Qaida Efforts Still Lag by AP's Katherine Pfleger Shrader... again, unable to accomplish his goals. How about the nightmare that was Bremer's CPA? My god, it made Chicago Public Schools look like a functioning bureaucracy! Bush's greatest weakness isn't personality or policy, it's the incompetence, stupid! Kerry's greatest strenght is, to paraphrase FAFBLOG, the capacity to actually govern a country.


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