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Kerry (Yawn) Wins Again

The pre-election polls in Virginia and Tennessee suggested neither race would be close and they weren't. Kerry won both easily, though his margin was wider in Virginia (25 points) than Tennessee (15 points).

Edwards placed second in both races with about the same percent of the vote (26-27 percent). Clark placed third in each (a close third in Tennessee and a weak one in Virginia) and is apparently going to withdraw from the race.

The exit polls can be found here on the CNN site, but they aren't really of much interest. You've seen it all before: Kerry is viewed as most electable by a wide margin and rolls up huge margins among the large segment of voters concerned with electability; Edwards on the other hand, does better among voters concerned with qualities like "cares about people" and "having a positive message". In fact, Edwards actually beat Kerry among voters who said these qualities were important in both states.

But is that enough for Edwards to mount a real challenge to Kerry, even with Clark dropping out? Nah. This very interesting Democratic primary battle is drawing to a close. And the really big battle is coming up. Whoever your horse was in the primaries, it's just about time to let that go and concentrate on helping John Kerry beat Bush.

Can Kerry do it? Sure he can--but only if the party unites behind him. Let's try to make that happen and we can argue later about whether he was or was not the ideal nominee.

Comments

Why do the voters think Kerry is more electable?
Because the media and the party insiders have said so over and over since about a week before Iowa. There has been no real analysis of this in the broadcast media, and only a small amount of superficial analysis here. The "establishment" (a vague term, but you know who I mean) is comfortable with Kerry. They have been dancing in the aisles with relief that the insurgent Dean campaign has been vanquished. Just as they repeated the mantra of Dean's "unelectability" until it became true, they have spent the last three weeks proclaiming Kerry's "electability" until he now has the nomination all but wrapped-up.

Do I sound bitter? There is a reason for that. The power of the media has never been more apparent than in the past three months. The media is making the news rather than just reporting it. Dean got hammered daily for at least two months. Kerry has gotten the "kid glove" treatment. The whole thing makes a mockery out of the concept of democracy. Few of the voters pay any real attention. The media just steps-in and tells the sheep what to think. "Manufacturing consent," the words have never rung truer.

Maybe what we should really be talking about is, now that the media have secured the nomination of their chosen Democrat, who will they be supporting in the fall? Four years ago the media gave Bush a free ride and helped assasinate Gore's character. Will the media stick with Bush or are they ready to help elect Kerry?

John Kerry was, apparently, an extraordinary soldier. He has been an ordinary politician. Which is to say that his prime motive has been re-election and advancement, rather than public service.

So be it. He will be the Democratic nominee, and I will wear the tread off at least one pair of shoes to help him win the general election.

But I can assure you at the DNC and DLC that I am deeply unhappy about your leadership of the Democratic Party. And after I help take back our country, I'm going to help take back our party.

I know many Dean people are disappointed and angry at the media. When someone says that the voters are sheep all that means is that voters are WILLING to be sheep and can't be bothered with actually doing their jobs as citizens and learning the distinctions between candidates. As a former Dean supporter, I am pleased to be suppotring John Kerry. He is a fine man and has obviously demonstrated the political qualities needed to beat Bush. I can't tell you how frustrating it is that the dominant mood in America is that all politicians are crooked and that it doesn't matter who gets elected.
This kind of cynicism must be defeated and all of us must work hard for Kerry.

I think that the Democratic Party and the country owe Howard Dean a tremendous debt of gratitude over what he has done in this campaign. That being said, I sincerely entreat all Dean supporters to come together to support our nominee and rid the cancer from the White House.
Dean has done two things for which we should be grateful. First, and perhaps most important in the long run, he has pioneered and demonstrated the use of the Internet as a political organizing and campaign tool. Our ability to use the Internet will be vital to overcome the Republican's advantage in fundraising and in the mass media. Thank you, Howard, for showing the way.
Second, and more important in the short run, he has demonstrated that there is a huge amount of anger and hostility toward the current administration among the American people. Unlike the conventional media wisdom, people DON'T think that Dubya is a wonderful man who has captured America's post 9/11 heart. By articulating that anger, Dean has helped it to coalesce and grow. He is a very, very large part of the reason that Kerry and Edwards are preaching a message that is gaining momemtum. Thank you again, Howard, for getting it right.

But as for why he has not secured the nomination, I'm afraid it is not because of a conspiracy of the press and party establishment. I think it is often the case that the pioneer becomes a lightening rod. He ends up taking hits that distroy his personal candacy but enable those of others. Think, for example, of Barry Goldwater.

All of that came together in Iowa, which turned out to be the "Perfect Storm" defeat for Dean. This was for two reasons.
First, part of Dean's appeal, as time went on, was the myth of his invincability. The myth was that he had captured the communications means of the 21st Century and that made his election (or at least his nomination) inevitable. His Internet fund-raising, the meet-ups, the Web-enabled house parties -- all of these made his campaign a steamroller that others couldn't fathom, much less stop. When he lost in Iowa, the balloon had more than a pin prick, it had a huge hole to let the air out.
Second, of course, was his reaction. Now I saw it as it happened (on TV) so I will try not to be too influenced by the media reaction. The trouble wasn't so much that it was THAT MUCH over the top. The trouble was that it was exactly in keeping with what his critics were saying. Even if it wasn't as bad as the media said it was, it was consistent with the major character flaw that his critics were warning about. It was similar to Mike Dukakis's answer to the rape question -- it confirmed the worst. (Hey, if the Duke had let loose "the scream" he would have carried 40 states.) Whether that is fair or not, I will leave to each of you to answer. But it is a hard fact.

So in sum, THANK YOU HOWARD, THANK YOU DEANIACS. PLEASE JOIN US now in fighting the greater evil. As one of our past nominees said, the Earth is in the Balance.

Paul

Kerry will get my vote, and maybe a bumper sticker and a button, but not my time or money. That's all he would have wanted six months ago, anyway-- after all, I'm not someone who could or would belong to the network of large fundraisers. My money and energy will go to MoveOn and organizations (hopefully, whatever succeeds DFA) that will try to reshape the Democratic party into a principled, cohesive, reasonable organization. The fact is that Howard Dean has reshaped election tactics, but I have no doubt that those changes are temporary-- Kerry, as well as most of the party, will be more than willing to sit back & let themselves be rolled by the GOP machine as long as they're holding just enough power to feel relevant. The only reason Kerry, McAuliffe, et al are even interested in us is because they see a new source of funds, but they have yet to convince us that their newfound interest in Dean's supporters will translate into policy, instead of just strategy.

Other Dean supporters can choose for themselves, but the only reasonable choices are to a) pledge full support to the nominee, and make sure that the debt is acknowledged, or b) withhold support until the party & the nominee acknowledges our concerns. The energy poured into the Dean campaign was not meant as a gift to the squishy middle, but an appeal to those who should know, and be able to prove, that being a Democrat is a good thing.

Wouldn't it be better for the race to go on for awhile longer? I worry about a news vacumn after everyone else drops out, which the press will undoubtedly fill with stories that take the "good hard look" at kerry that i think everybody recognizes he has not received. and since this is the "liberal media" (NOT) you can be assured that scrutiny will deal with Kerry's dating habits, his Botox, and votes he took to cut intelligence spending, blah, blah, blah...

The last 4-6 weeks have been really good for Democrats....why not keep it going? If you remember, Gore beating Bradley decisively in winter 2000 made him look really good. as soon as bradley dropped out, what was the next big story: elian gonzalez, and gore's ham-fisted reaction to it.

The press abhors a vacumn. Why create one prematurely? Vote Dean or Edwards and keep this race going awhile longer.

Kerry is a Wolf in Sheeps clothing. He is no better than what we already have in the whitehouse. What he's done to Bush is just plain outlandish. Why doesn't the MEDIA start checking into the Kerry's Vietnam backgound? Go check out the web site Vietnam Vets against John Kerry & take a really good look at what the man has actually done in Vietnam. What about him pretending to smoke a JOINT at the party in Iowa. The Media didn't make a big deal out of that, So I guess it's OK to teach our children it's OK to smoke WHACKY WEED. The Media is not going to choose my canidate. I won't vote period if he is elected for the Presidental Race. He's no different than what we already have, so you might as well leave Bush in to serve another 4 yrs.
The MEDIA has been onesided since Iowa. They want Kerry to go up against Bush. They haven't given any other of the canidates a chance.
What the MEDIA did to DEAN was uncalled for, they ruined his chance.
I'll vote for Jerry Springer first!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm with Marco that it's good for the Dems if the race continues, especially if the candidates can keep it clean. I also think it's good for the Democratic voters to have more time to check out Kerry and see if he really is the one that they want. Kerry certainly has the right resume, and that leads to his being pegged as "Mr. Electable." But he can't talk his way out of a paper bag, and he's not someone the voters will connect to on an emotional level.

Edwards has that emotional appeal. Of course, his resume is much, much thinner, so he has his own set of problems. But given two cups that are half full (or half empty, depending on how you look at it), I think it's fine the race to move forward.

And for all those people who credit the DLC and DNC for this outcome: I'm sure McAuliffe et al wish they had so much power. But fortunately, there's not three guys behind the curtain pulling all the strings. This was the voters speaking, for good or ill. It's always easiest to point to a conspiracy when things don't turn out the way you want. But that's not a very productive explanation.

Former Dean supporter here. Although I agree that the media was simply vicious to Dean, and the "establishment" brimmed with antipathy toward him, the fact is that by December the race was his to lose, and he lost it. He was undisciplined, his strategy in the last few months sucked, and it was a large part of his job to WIN OVER the media and the establishment, and he failed to do so.

I'm not convinced Kerry is so "electable." The military background stuff is playing extremely well right now -- especially with MacAuliffe igniting the AWOL controversy -- go Terry!

But for God's sake, he's another droning, stentorian New Englander who doesn't connect with voters! Can you say Dukakis? Or Mondale, Gore, etc. How do we manage to nominate these snoozers over and over again?

Despite these doubts, I am certainly "behind" Kerry and will happily vote for him in the fall. I am conflicted about how to support him. I was one of those newbies who gave money to Dean but who isn't particularly inspired to do so for Kerry. I can't even bring myself to put up a sign just yet. But we'll see.

For all of those who have been with Dean (like me for awhile), don't lose sight of the country for the politics. Four more years of George W. Bush will undoubtedly result in our nation joining Russia of the 90's as a bankrupt ex-superpower with nuclear weapons.

Don't let your personal rancor get in the way of your duty to your country. Millions of children are about to be kicked off of lunch and educational programs. Millions of families are about to take two steps toward personal financial ruin. Millions of workers are about to lose another thread of security. Millions of women are about to have government interfere with their free choice.

We are in the midst of a good primary season. The people are speaking. Nobody trusts the leadership of the DNC and DLC, and whatever candidate they'd enthusiastically get behind. Record turnouts indicate the level of dissatisfaction with Bush, and the potential of historic Democratic turnout. Our time can be here, if we will band together and seize it.

So if your grudge is more important than the common good, so be it. You will have to justify your decision with the voices in your head if Bush wins again.

its only february--lets see how things go in the next few months. The world can change still...i think most voters--myself included--are pretty ticked off that people keep suggesting we should shut-up and support the front runner. Last I heard, you still needed over 2000 delegates to win the nomintation

Isn't it time for all the Deaniacs to wake up and smell the coffee and stop blaming a vast conspiracy between the DLC and media for their man's downfall? Even at his zenith before the primaries, wasn't he hovering around 30% while everyone else was just middling in the teens (while the undecideds were equal to Dean)? Basically it sounds to me that Dean had the extreme anti-war vote in his pocket early and he was not able to build on it once the campaign really got started and people were forced to take a good look at the candidates.

marko,

You raise an interesting point about the potential of a Kerry "vetting" taking place while he has no automatic air time which would allow him to respond or to redirect the issues. It's a good question as to how Kerry should handle this.

Maybe it's a good thing that Dean is holding out until the last dog dies -- it seems unlikely that the attacks Dean is likely to make on Kerry will much affect Kerry's general election prospects. How, for example, would the Rove machine attack Kerry on the issue of contributions from special interests, when like contributions for Bush are over an order of magnitude greater in dollars?

I will say thought that I DO expect that Rove would go after Kerry on the special interest contributions. Yet I think that this would only be a further example of how limited the Republicans really are when it comes to political strategy. The Republicans always seem to have exactly one response for all political occasions: attack the opponent as vociferously as possible on any issue that arises. They NEVER seem to be able to ask the question: what comes next? How might the Dems respond? What are our own exposures on the issue?

This was evident, for example, after the debate in which Clark was taken to task by Peter Jennings over Michael Moore's "deserter" accusation against Bush. All of the Fox commentators (it was hosted by Fox) could NOT stop themselves from fulminating in outrage over Moore's assertion and Clark's "weak" response. My immediate reaction at the time was that they were being idiots for making a big deal out of this issue, because the most important effect of their interminable outrage was to elevate the importance of the issue. They obviously NEVER asked themselves where this issue would likely go if it achieved public prominence.

It is much the same with the Republican attacks on Kerry's Vietnam War activities. They think they can get mileage out of the Kerry's antiwar involvement. Yet each time they bring it up, they only legitimize the discussion of that era, and make it seem entirely in order to ask the question, well, what was BUSH doing at the time? In the end, the story is that of a man risking his life for his country vs. a man who had better things to do. War Hero vs. War Zero. It should be obvious who wins THAT battle.

I think the Republicans' inability to stop themselves from attacking an opponent even when it exposes themselves even further is partly just a constitutional problem -- they will attack because that's the way their knees jerk. But I also think that they do so because they expect, from experience, that the Dems will simply lie down if they shout loudly enough.

I think we are seeing in Kerry that that is NOT how it's going to play out. Kerry seems to me to be a VERY smart guy politically. He may not have Clinton's charm and easy people skills, but strategically I'm not sure I've seen anybody better.

Don't misunderstand my comment at the beginning of this thread. My primary source of anger is not Howard Dean's failure to win the nomination. I contributed to Dean, worked for Dean, raised money from others for Dean, but I always viewed Dean as a high risk strategy. I think the CW about his unelectability was largely a media and insider creation, but it would have been naive to not recognize his liabilities and vulnerabilities.

The real source of my anger is the fact that the media and the insiders have managed to foist a highly vulnerable candidate onto our party. The more independent and swing voters get to know about John Kerry through the lens of Bush's re-election campaign, the less they are likely to support him. He will be portrayed as a doctrinaire liberal, who is weak and vacilating on the issues. In other words, we are going to be witness to the "Gore-ification" of Kerry.

I am not hung-up about Dean. I regretfully buried my candidate the day after Iowa. Since then I have been tauting Edwards and trying to warn people about the vulnerability of Kerry. If Kerry gets the nomination, I will work for him as hard as I can. The stakes are far too high to do anything else. But I am pissed that people like Ruy have participated in a superficial and intellectually dishonest sham of slamming Dean while supporting Clark, and then immediately turning around and embracing Kerry.

No one has yet taken up the question I posed in my earlier post. Do you think the media will treat Kerry the way they treated Gore? Or, do you think they are ready to help a "safe, establishment" Democrat against Bush?

I am with Marco. Furthermore I don't understand why anyone wouldn't be.

The media has a weird sort of anti-bias bias. Right now, they are trying to give equal weight to Kerry and Edwards. When and if Edwards drops out they will be trying to give equal weight to Bush and Kerry. I don't see how this is a good thing.

Kerry and Edwards each have one strength over Bush and one serious vulnerability. When the primary Ends, Bush will be able to try to out 'nurmal murkin' Kerry or out 'terra threat' Edwards. Lets keep the "Voters are trying to decide whether the fact that Kerry is tougher than Bush is more or less important than the fact that Edwards is more in touch than Bush" story going as long as possible!

We are united against Bush. We just have different strategies. While the primary is going, ALL the strategies are being used effectivly. When the primary ends we are stuck with one.

We also need to keep in mind that Howard Dean is still in the race. And despite the fact that it does not really square with reality, having Dean in the race allows the media to portray Kerry as a centrist. The more this sinks into people's consciousness, the harder it will be for Rove to portray him as a wide-eyed liberal.

I like Edwards the most, and for a long time thought that even Dean would be better than Kerry, but I am starting to 'get' something about Kerry.

People who don't follow politics closely like him the most. Until recently I had thought that this was because they did not know him yet and that this would change, but who says they ever will? Most voters get only a few minutes of political news a day which is devoted to the most ratings grabbing event in the campaign for that day. Kerrys dull repetition of his daily talking point grates on me, but keeps him in control of his image. And everyone who follows politics as closely as I do has made up their mind for or against Bush.

The media was obviously 'unfair' to Dean, but it was so in a highly predictable way based on its sensationalistic nature rather than a political agenda (other than Fox). The care and feeding of the media is an essential skill to have in winning elections. Dean and Clark did not have it and would have gotten killed in the general because of that. It would be great if we could vote for a different media as well as a different president, but for now lets recognize the terrain.

Thats not to say that personal charisama and a common touch are not also important. And I am not ready to give up on Edwards yet.

Yes, I am also with marko. The media is still in the annointing, build-them-up phase. Kerry's terrific five weeks have occurred entirely within this phase and as a result there is much about him that is not well known now.

Once serious discussion about who the nominee should be ceases the media, aided by the Republicans, will shift into the tear-them-down phase. That's mostly what the public will be hit over the head with prior to the conventions.

Remember, Clinton used the period after the Rs decided it was going to be Dole to define and destroy him before we even got to the summer.

Better to know what the public will know about Kerry within the next 2 months than in October, when we can't do anything about it.

And Kerry is likely to become a better campaigner if he has competition.

I agree with Ruy there is not a shred of evidence suggesting this can become a competitive race. But whether or not Democrats *should* want it to end, effectively, now is a very different question.

Why encourage the bandwagon effect?

"I told you so!"
There! It's out of my system. I promise I won't say it again.
I'm like the previous blogger who will vote for Kerry but that's all. It's the best I can promise right now.
I'm not normally given to conspiracy theories. I really believed that, in spite of the pressence of a powerful oligarchy, our country was still a democracy and people still had the power of the vote. But, as an earlier blogger pointed out, the vote is only as powerful as the voter. Democracy is dependent upon a willingness on the part of the citizens to do the work of citizenship. Thought is required. Analysis. The acting seeking of information. Careful critical observation. Not herd instinct and credulity. I though Democrats were the responsible voters and Republicans were the sheep.
But back to the conspiracry theory. The only person I know who actually wants Kerry to be our nominee believes that a cabal of ten or so oligarchs are the real government of America and that the elections are a pretense. She voted for Kerry because she thinks the oligarchs want him to win. She thinks the oligarchs want to dump Bush and replace him with a nuetered and ineffective Democrat. Don't scream at me, it isn't my theory.
I do think Kerry is the candidate chosen for us by the media and I do think the behavior of the lemming-like voters dutifully trotting off to vote as bidden is a pathetic and disappointing sight. Whether this is all according to someone's plan I don't know. But the power of the visual media is terrifying and we appear to be dependent on them to determine the outcome of elections. I don't think Kerry will make if the media turns against him.
But I promised not to say "I told you so".

I'm voting for Edwards in Wisconsin next week, and hoping that he'll have a surprising showing here now that Clark has dropped out of the race. Edwards is still a very long shot though, with Kerry the obvious front-runner and Dean the Energizer Bunny candidate that won't die both sucking up media oxygen in the state that Edwards could benefit from.

But stranger things have happened, and may yet happen...

Kerry was the front runner before and fell. He might do it again. (TNR has a free Kerry 36,000 article.) I am all for not anoiting the front runner yet. In my WA caucus (of 93 people) we ended up with local delegates for Kerry (4), Dean (3), Edwards (2), and Kucinich (2). A friend's precinct actually decided to intentionally split their 8 delegates since it is still so early: 2 for each.

It sounds like the only way to do this now is by supporting Dean and Edwards going into the next round of primaries.

Going forward, would Dean going on the offensive (since we know Edwards won't) be benificial for the Dems regardless of who the nominee is? $ against Kerry v. $ against Bush? Under what scenario would it be a plus for the Dems to attack Kerry?

-DS

As a Clark supporter in a state that has not yet had a caucus, I am sorry I could not actually witness my support for Clark -- but I doubt if this is his laxt act on the national stage. But about a week or so ago, in some measure as a result of reading carefully Kevin Phillips book, I decided to refresh my memory on the case of BCCI -- and Kerry's role as sub-committee chair investigating that corruption. I actually had three books related to this, long since shelved away.

The first thing I did was look in the index for the story of the day personage -- AQ Khan, the Pakistani father of the Muslim Bomb -- and what do you know, Kerry's investigation uncovered the funding relationship between BCCI and Khan way back in 1991. Oh My -- so that's why pressure was put on for a sudden confession and pardon -- perhaps. Anyhow since then, I've worked my way through two of the three books, and I'd suggest that for ABB Democrats now is the time to do some serious reading on Senator Kerry's career as an investigator of mass corruption. To the point, Kerry had both Bush Senior and Junion nailed as very deeply involved with BCCI back in the late 80's and early 90's. If we want to do our part in making the electable elected, we need to build and rebuild our memories and data bases on this maze of issues. It's huge. And GHWBush engineered the cover-up.

My three books: Janathan Beaty and SC Gwynne's "The Outlaw Bank: A Wild Ride into the Secret Heart of BCCI" Randon House, 1993. Beaty was chief investigative jorunalist for TIME -- and one of his prime and initial sources was Jack Blum, who was Kerry's chief staff Senate investigator. Blum is apparently now working on Kerry's campaign.

Then there is James Ring Adams and Douglas Frantz's "A Full Service Bank: How BCCI stole Billions around the World" Simon and Schuster, 1992. Adams is WSJ etc, and Frantz was business reporter for LA Times. This one is more interested in detailing structure of BCCI and the corruption, and the authors are less universal in their approach to the whole story. But none the less, excellent, and with much on Kerry's investigative role.

Finally I am re-reading Jonathan Kwitny's somewhat earlier "Crimes of Patriots" which does not deal with Kerry, but deals with investigations that pre-dated his work. Rather like asking what was the state of play before Kerry came along. Kwitny was WSJ (sadly he died young a few years back) and the book was published by Norton in 1987.

So, I agree with Ruy -- time is to leave behind our Clarks and Deans, and get about blogging forward ABB and a successful election. My guess is that most people don't remember BCCI, certainly not the details, and even now know less about it than they know about Bush's military service. We gotta change that, and BCCI's take down was partially Kerry's work, so let's get into the details and force the story out of the archives. Sadly, BCCI was pre Internet, so not all that much material is easily accessable on the net -- but I did notice that Beaty's series of articles in Time are posted. Good place to begin. Fair Warning, it is more than the equal of Watergate for complexity, particularly because understanding BCCI will assume an understanding of Pakistani and Saudi political culture and personages.

Just a small little piece of it all. One reason Bush will probably not bring his "best buddy" from TANG forward to tell old National Guard stories is because that friend, James Bath, was recruited by GHWBush into the CIA in 1976 -- and then went on to become the business agent and broker for certain Saudi interests, including the bin Laden family, and Kalid bin Mahfouz -- the principle in BCCI and Osama bin Laden's brother in law. In fact he even brokered the sale of James Baker's law firm's office tower to BCCI and the bin Laden's -- a transaction where Baker apparently got 150 million more than the real estate was worth. Bush Jr. got much less -- just the Harken deal. And my goodness, all this stuff was published in the early 1990's, and much of it was available because of Kerry's Senate investigations.

Ruy, I am all about driving down Bush's numbers as far and as fast as possible -- but I believe people largely loose faith and trust because they come to understand a counter narrative. I think the idea of Kerry as reliable and trustworthy fact-finder versus the guy who is embedded with the corrupt money bags behind the terrorists is an exceptionally useful narrative.

Couple of thoughts.

First, about what Sara said. In light of the fact that Kerry was a fellow "bonesman" (Kevin Philips phrase), may the BCCI be part of a bipartisan coverup?

Second, does anybody have good numbers on turnout at all the primaries that have been held so far? How does this turnout compare to previous years? If it is larger (as I suspect it is), that reflects a level of interest in Democratic candidates that can only mean good news in the general election, ceteris paribus.

Jon,

You said something about Kerry being liked the best by those who follow politics the least, and then you went on to suggest that they may never change. I agree with your first point, Kerry is superficially attractive: he has the "big mo" and he has been getting tons of positive "winner" coverage from the media establishment. As Ruy puts it, Kerry has threshold credibility.

However, I disagree with your second point. The very same superficial voters who have been sold on Kerry as a "winner" by the media, are the same voters who will be susceptible to Bush's advertising attacks on Kerry. Political advertising has no effect on those of us who are well informed and have clearly thought out positions. Political ads are effective on the 70% of the public who use television as their primary source of information. If these people see the same attack ads repeated over and over without effective refutation, they will believe whatever they are told.

Bush can't run on the issues. A majority of the public disagrees with Bush and the Repubs on the issues. Bush's chief asset is that he is perceived as being a strong, decisive leader and as someone who will keep us safe from terror. Given this, it seems obvious to me that the Bush team will try to portray Kerry as a weak and vacilating leader who does what is politically expediant. Kerry's voting record and long history of public comment will be mined for every shift of position. The votes themselves are not the problem, the problem is that they will be used to create a negative image of Kerry's character.

William Saletan of Slate has an excellant article today about the electability question (http://slate.msn.com/id/2095311). His basic position based on an analysis of the exit poll data is that Edwards is far stronger with the independents, conservative Dems, and moderate Repubs that the Dem nominee will need in the fall. Why isn't Ruy talking about this? If the party wants the most electable candidate we will quickly get behind Edwards.

Being essentially a curmudgeon, I hadn't warmed to Dean until late December or early January. I didn't want to get pulled along by the tidal wave. Eventually, though, I responded to a dedicated, articulate champion of using government as a tool for good, rather than just a tool for enriching the ultra-rich and corporations.

That's one of the most important dimensions to today's politics -- can government be good, and is it really for the benefit of people or of corporations? Even a lot of Republicans think Bush/Rove have gone too far on this dimension, and that's in part why Bush is starting to push his "culture wars" issues -- he knows he's losing his base on the other set.

Isn't this the center of the idea of being from the "democratic wing of the democratic party?" Doesn't that mean that we believe government can and should be used to enrich peoples' lives, to support those in need, and to contribute to the common good? Aren't we afraid that the Democratic "power structure" has been so impotent against the Repugs because they really don't disagree on this core issue?

I think Deaniacs who are about to give up on the Democrats are missing this point. By populating the party with those who really are from the democratic wing, we can change the party. In fact, we need a network of organizations to help shape the future of political discourse (as Dave Johnson, among others, has been writing -- see the american street or seetheforest.blogspot.com).

And finally, that's why I'm worried about winning this next election. Obviously, the short-term consequences of losing are so bad we can't afford to worry about the long-term. But, if a win slows our efforts to mount a challenge to the right in the "battle of ideas," it could complete the long-term marginalization of those who believe that government can do some good.

The Saletan article upper left referred to is well worth a look. First analysis of its type I've seen so far.

I agree with the sentiments of those who will support Kerry out of loyalty to the Dem party and absolute hatred of Bush and his cronies. But the Dem party is all about tactics and short-term thinking like 'electability' than about a commitment to principles. It's clear that the DNC/DLC command structure do not want to change politics or give power back to the people. Dean's ineptitude demonstrated that he was not the right messenger, but boy did he have the right message.

As for Kerry: his co-opting of Dean's stump speech rhetoric on special interests rings hollow in comparison to his behavior in the senate. His voting record is weak at best, and on many issues he cannot credibly attack Bush since he voted for Bush's proposals - the war, NCLB, tax cuts. And he simply does not connect with voters, though he is getting better. A piece in Slate shows that his only selling point is the fleeting notion of 'electability' and that Edwards, Dean and others do better on "cares" and "shares my positions on issues". And Edwards does a whole lot better with moderates. The best things Kerry has going are (1) Bush's decline (though $200 million in GOP slime will stop that) (2) the fact that the media has decided, as they did for Bush in 2000, that they like him better (at least for now) (3) that he can play as dirty as the REpublicans and (4) his military background.

Kerry has a good chance. But will he get the money and effort of average voters like me who would've gone to the mat for Dean? No. Ultimately, I will do anything to beat Bush, but the Dem party can do nothing but temporarily stop the bleeding until we actually stand for something other than 'electability'.

I'm tired - downright sick to death - of people blaming the Democrats for being whimps, rolling over to the GOP...

The right wing in America has been demonizing the VERY moderate left throughout the Cold War, accelerating in the 1980s, and reachinbg an orgasmic crescendo in the Clinton years.

The right wing, fueled by billions from wealthy families and corporations, has had a very easy time with their demonization.

Demagoguery over taxes is incredibly easy to do - and also extremely irresponsible - and almost impossible to counteract.

Scaring people about national security was easy to do - even in 2000, when the Cold War was over nearly a decade. Now it's far easier.

Relentless corporate spending on lobbying is nearly impossible to counteract; it would require a citizenry of near-heroic concentration on issues. Which we don't have.

Never forget that the right is on the dark side of ever issue, from militarism to racism to exacerbating the rich-poor divide.

Save some scorn for the right, and give the Dems some slack.

The Saletan article is nothing more than an extensive, confused argument.

His basic argument is that, based on exit polls, Kerry's numbers go down as one moves left to right on the political axis, whereas Edwards' numbers go up.

What he doesn't say, is that in almost all cases in which Kerry won, KERRY'S NUMBERS IN ALL CATEGORIES ARE STILL HIGHER THAN EDWARDS' NUMBERS. The only exception I can see to this is in the SOUTHERN states, and in the RIGHTMOST of the categories. Remember that those weren't just any southern states either -- they NEIGHBORED on Edwards own state, NC, so one would EXPECT higher numbers.

In the two states in which Kerry got LOWER overall votes than Edwards, OK and SC, Edwards' numbers in the various categories were higher than Kerry's, with the one exception that Kerry slightly beat out Edwards among liberals in OK. All in all, not exactly a surprise.

Unless you come to these exit polls with a clear preconceived bias, I don't see how anybody could conclude that, on balance, they support the view that Edwards is actually more "electable" than Kerry. The basic reality is that, at this stage, in virtually every region of the country, every category of voter in the Democratic primaries, left to right, prefers Kerry to Edwards.

I'm almost afraid to say it here, but I supported Kerry when his campaign was on life-support. I'm also a freak who likes Al Gore -- and even read his book when he was just a senator -- because I can't stand the "aw-shucks, I ain't so smart you have to be skeerd o'me, I'm jus' like you" b-s that the Republicans have been have been hamming it up with for years. And, as much as I love Jimmy Carter, his lack of congressional experience was a detriment to his presidency, even when he had a democratic majority to work with.
However, one point that needs to be remembered is that the press is also made up of individuals who are gentler on candidates that they like personally -- Reagan vs Carter, Clinton vs Bush I, Bush II vs Gore -- . "Maynard Parker, editor of Newsweek, agreed that Reagan’s sunny personality could influence a journalist to be gentler on the President 'for the reason that most reporters covering him genuinely like the man and find it difficult to be as tough as they might like.'”(On Bended Knee by Mark Hertsgaard)
This aspect gives me a little pause as they have already begun complaining about Kerry's aloofness. Hopefully, he'll come up with a few cute nicknames for the press people in short order.

Hi Upper left.

I pretty much agree with you. Edwards is by far the more 'electable' and would make a better president. Whether you care about one, both, or believe that the two are inseperable the answer is clear. Edwards.

My point was more that SOME of Kerry's successes are related to real skill in understanding and using the media to his advantage. Not all, there is lots of luck there too.

Also, SOME the of the hype about his bio will hold up until November, simply by virtue of fact that he can out action figure Bush. That makes it harder for Bush to run as an action figure. And as you point out, Bush does not have much else.

So yeah, some of the people on the Kerry bandwagon will jump off when things get nasty. But some people will jump off the Bush bandwagon if Kerry pulls the sock out of Bush's flight suit, dig?

I totally agree that Edwards is the best choice. Edwards will win over more independants, moderates, disaffected republicans, etc and have a better chance in the general election. Edwards would do a better job of bringing the country together and would be more likely to get reelected. Edwards would have a less hostile congress to work with and would get more done. Edwards' mom will send you a killer pie recipie for a small contribution (Its really good). Go Edwards Go.

(But if he does loose to Kerry, we could do worse.)

"Political ads are effective on the 70% of the public who use television as their primary source of information. If these people see the same attack ads repeated over and over without effective refutation, they will believe whatever they are told."

Upper Left, your argument here could apply to Edwards as well. What about GOP ads about Edwards' lack of national security experience, repeated over and over, ad nauseum? And how does Edwards refute it? "I've been to Pakistan," as I think was part of his response in one of the debates? Not so good.

Now, to be sure, I'm not hatin' on Edwards--I love his campaign, and he's my first choice for VP in the (all but certain) event that Kerry gets the nomination. But think about all the different ways this angle could be exploited against Edwards by the fear-mongering right.

So, with Kerry, OK, there'll be ads about him as a flip-flopper, vacillator, etc., but Bush has changed his rationale for everything so often that we can surely hit back with that. And the closer things get to anything that could be considered a "character" issue, Kerry's got the war record to go to for some flag-waving, in addition to some of the anti-corruption Sara laid out in this thread--couldn't that link nicely to the widespread belief, demonstrated by lots of polling data, that Bush tends to "care more about rich guys/corporations than me"? There's definitely some good ground for counter-attack here. I just don't see where it could come from with Edwards when the "who do you want in the White House when another 9/11 hits, the guy who led our response to it, or a baby-faced greenhorne with no foreign policy experience" type-ads would start running.

Neither Edwards or Kerry are perfect. They both have a great line of attack against Bush, and a serious vulnerability. While I think Edwards comes out ahead, both will have a reasonable shot. The main point is that it is necessary for the race to stay close between them right up to the convention. Then BOTH attacks get leveled against Bush and he can't really resond. Lets stop all this nonsense about unity. We are unified against Bush, and having two people compete for who is best to beat him makes a great favorable news story.

I want to comment on something that Phil in AZ said, because in some ways I think he is right, but there is more to the story.
Phil wrote, "I agree with the sentiments of those who will support Kerry out of loyalty to the Dem party and absolute hatred of Bush and his cronies. But the Dem party is all about tactics and short-term thinking like 'electability' than about a commitment to principles. ... the Dem party can do nothing but temporarily stop the bleeding until we actually stand for something other than 'electability'.

We DO have to change the landscape. The current conventional wisdom is that "government IS the problem" and that taxes are "the greedy hand of government, taking away "my" money". All political proposals, and all politicians are measured by that yardstick. True, some progressives still manage to win, but it is because they are an exception, not the rule.

But my point is that many different people have a role to play in changing that conventional wisdom. We who are not candidates for political office have to do it, through writing, talking, organizing, etc. Look at what the right does -- they have their crackpots taking extreme positions, like Ann Coulter, their money people, their media blowhards, their serious philosophers and finally, their candidates. Except in extraordinary circumstances (think Roosevelt) politicains will not lead this change in the conventional wisdom. They have to please too many people, and work with the other side. WE have to do it. Then, when our philosphy starts to be a groundswell, we can pray that we find a candidate like Ronald Reagan who can capture and articulate the vision.

I have posted here a number of times voiceing my support for Dean and my discomfort with supporting Kerry this summer.
I just read a long article on Kerry's political history, and I must say that I feel more comfortable with him now. Everyone who has heard bits and pieces on Kerry in the last few months should read this to get a decent big-picture of the guy:
http://us.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOLITICS/02/02/timep.kerry.tm/

That said: I still believe both parties are fundamentally broken. I am very frustrated that Dean played Caesar to the DLC's roman senate. But, I am willing to get behind Kerry for now. Hopefully we can keep the Dean-style-remake-the-party movement growing for a while. At some point though, we will have to put our foot down and take the party by force or fracture it trying. Now is just too important a time to risk GOP control of the country for 4 more years.

Primaries get new voters involved..the rivalry of candidates attracts interest of voters and the media. Differences on issues get in the air. Voters feel some power when they make a choice on a potential nominee. All of this will be lost when the Kerry primary landslide is complete.

The YAWNING will last months. It's a mistake.

Dean, Edwards, and Kerry spin different threads and experiences--each needed to attract our diverse electorate over the next four months.

Carole

I agree with marko. I think that the strategy calling for the Dems to unite this early behind a single candidate is mistaken. It only gives the Republicans a clear target and that much more time to start lobbing potshots. Keep them guessing for a little while longer.

Moreover, multiple candidates mean that there's a story to cover, a story that offers that many more chances for Democrats to voice serious criticisms of Bush administration tactics. (I personally have enjoyed hearing the call to get Bush out in multi-part harmony.) Once the horse race is over it will be time, as marko suggests, to look for new headlines, almost certainly to Kerry's detriment.

Also, I'd really like there to be a chance to see if Kerry can survive some really tough public moments before we discard all of the alternatives.

Maybe this call for immediate unity wouldn't bother me if I was sold on Kerry's electability. I'm not. That man is as patrician as they come, and he's going up against the cornpone, aw-shucks, I'm-just-a-good-ole-born-again-man-of-God act that took in a good portion of the electorate in 2000 (even if it was less than half) and then took us to war.

So yeah, let's all unite. But what's the big rush?

Well, I'm glad at least one media heavyweight--David Broder--believes there is something left to discuss on the nomination front. See his column today at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/opinion/columns/broderdavid

I think Broder asks the right question.

Edwards was a great lawyer. But those he defeated were impersonal, deep-pocket corporations. Can he find a way to prevail--and at no or some acceptable cost--over a flesh and blood rival who is now seen as more appealing by the jury they are both trying to win over? What would such a strategy look like, if it exists?

Anybody looked at the Drudge report lately?

http://www.drudgereport.com/

Of course who knows if the drudge report is accurate or just another example of the cheap sleazy crap that goes on all the time in politics. But we'd better find out soon.

Is it just me, or could the latest Drudged-up business about Kerry be related to, oh, I don't know, the desire to deflect attention from Bush's military records? Even though Drudge occasionally puts stuff out that doesn't happen to be based on complete lies, there's never a good reason to believe ANYTHING he says. If it's true, and it's important, than somebody credible will eventually report it.

Bush is a "leader" of the religious right (and many "KKK" types support him).
Unfortunately, John Kerry, who is Catholic, might not appeal to those religious right wingers who might be fed up with Bush and are thinking of voting for a Democrat. As much as I like Kerry, I'm voting for John Edwards because I think he has a better chance of beating Bush. The South doesn't like Catholics from Massachusettes. Remember what they did to JFK?
It's sad but even though Kerry is a war hero, there are many people who still base their vote on biased points of view.

please send Ralph a message: We love you BUT DON'T RUN. You will put BUSH back into the Whitehouse. Joe St. John