Monday, September 13, 2004

do they realize that there's a timer on this thing?

Sometimes ineptitude startles me. Not always, mind you--for example, when you're picking up the family dinner at the drive-thru at McDonalds, you shouldn't be surprised to find a sandwich missing or a wrong drink in your cup. But there are some places where I just don't expect to be left scratching my head wondering "what was that?"

Presidential elections are one of those situations. Here is what I expect: manned by dozens of bright people--supposedly at the top of their game--trying to sell their party and their candidate to every walk of life across this great country of ours, campaigns should put out an almost dizzying volume of information to the voters. The quest: the perfect message--one that resonates in the ears of the people as well as the headlines of the press. Not an easy task, which is why campaigns have to "try out" certain lines of reasoning just for effect. Oh, but for that one moment that can capture the essence of an entire election, it is worth it!

I would think this to be an even more important task for a campaign that finds itself behind by a noticeable margin as the days grow shorter and November looms around the corner. While attempting not to look futile, there does have to be a certain "desperation" to the efforts of a candidate that trails by too much--say, "out of the margin" on most polls. Applying this logic--which may not be infallible, but it sure looks good to me--Kamp Kerry and all of his allies should have been asserting themselves in a number of "fronts" last week. They certainly were pulling out all the stops in gathering ideas, even hitting up poor former-President Clinton while he lay in a hospital awaiting heart bypass surgery. I was looking for some major moves from the Dems last week. . .

And this is what I got: something about the assault-weapons ban, a new take on a trumped-up number for our expenditures in Iraq, and more stuff about Bush's National Guard service.

And I gotta ask myself: what was that?

Really, do the Dems think that the assault weapons ban is a major issue that's resonating with the voters in swing states? And while it made for some kind of a photo op, the only sound bite (scroll down to the bottom of this link) from the issue wasn't something Kerry will be posting in his "greatest moments" collection.

As to our expenditures in Iraq: it's expensive, no doubt. But was that Kerry saying that he would have spent the money on something else? Gee, I thought he was a deficit-shrinking kind of a guy? As to how Kerry says he WOULD have spent that money instead of in the war on terror: this administration has already sunk record-levels of money into education, has made major strides (with more to come) in providing prescription drugs for seniors, and has sought numerous times to attack the problem CAUSING escalating health care costs (i.e. tort reform). Throwing dollars around isn't the answer to everything--although you'd never know that from the proposals Kerry has spoken about in his campaign (from the Kerry Spot):


Today (9/13) the AP reports, "Kerry also outlined a $5 billion, 10-year anti-crime agenda, paid for by a routine extension of customs fees already included in numerous pending bills."

Bush campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt is pointing out, "Kerry already spent the extension of customs user fees in his August 3, 2004 budget document. That budget document did not contain any itemization for a $5 billion anti-crime initiative. In addition, there are currently 16 bills in the 108th Congress that have already spent the money available from customs user fees – including two that have already passed both the House and the Senate. Kerry’s proposal today adds to his list of 133 campaign promises that he has yet to pay for."

I'm sure there's some good idea that Kerry will announce after his inauguration. Like, you know, having the United States marry Luxembourg for their money.

And I'll be charitable and say (for the sake of argument here only!) that team Kerry didn't order the most recent round of the Bush/National Guard non-story. But at the very least, the Dems were out in full force seeking to push the story forward. (see Terry McAuliffe comments here) So once again, the Dem message finds itself back in the early 1970's--this, despite the best efforts of none other than Bill Clinton to have the past left out of play for the rest of the race.

And, once again, an entire week stricken from the calendar and not once did the Dems get to highlight one of their supposed strongsuits: the major domestic policy issues.

Nice message, Dems! Way to let us know what kind of an organized, issues-oriented kind of administration you would run.

I'm starting to think that Kerry has forgotten how to come from behind.

Either that, or he has been up against some really horrible candidates in the past.

Or, possibly even more frightening: maybe he doesn't realize he's behind? And I say that's frightening for this reason: in a world that has found war on a new, fluid battleground with an enemy that defies not just understanding but also the "rules" of civilization, we need a leader who is capable of taking the fight to this difficult-to-define enemy. If Kerry can't understand the simple reality of his campaign, how can he possibly understand the intricacies of this new kind of warfare?


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