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Wednesday, April 28, 2004
Attention, Attention: Kerry WILL BE THE NOMINEE, So Just Chill

By Steven Taylor @ 10:18 am

As I noted on Monday, John Kerry will be the Democratic Party’s nominee, barring some sort of major, dramatic event. However, as James Joyner notes, many out there seem to think that the Dems will somehow replace him.

This reminds me of the “brokered convention” speculation from late last year (see here and here). (And while I was wrong about Howard Dean, I was quite right about the probability of a brokered convention).

The bottom line is, that despite some examples of liberals expressing concerns about Kerry, the truth is that what will happen is that supporters of the Democratic Party are likely to start digging in their heals in and becoming more vociferous about their support for Kerry, not less. The Senator may look like a loser to Republicans, but I guarantee that he doesn’t look like such to a lot of Democrats. We are entering/have entered the stage of the political game that I like to call the “politics as sports” phase (indeed, in some ways we are always in it): at this point the hard-core “fans” are going to root for their “team” no matter what. And the hard-core will think that their side has a chance, no matter what.

And let’s face facts: the polls don’t show Kerry losing badly at this point, and really, he has had a bad week so this means that the Party will jettison him? It just doesn’t work that way. While I think that there is a good chance that the election will not be as close as some have predicted, and that Kerry is a weak candidate, the bottom line is that there are large number of Democrats who will vote for their party’s nominee, and ditto the Reps-and so there is a chance that Kerry could win. Changing candidates at this point after the primaries and after the spending of all that time and money would be a huge negative for the Democrats.

Plus, it is clear that reasonable folks on different sides of the ideological spectrum see events differently-and so Reps shouldn’t assume that what they see as a problem is seen the same way by Dems. Some examples on the medal flap include Kevin Drum and Matthew Yglesias.

Further, if one is a Bush supporter, one likely thinks that the National Guard business is nonsense, but if one doesn’t like Bush, one likely thinks otherwise.

The real questions here are not about medals or how many times Bush showed up in Alabama. The issues are honesty and the ability to present one’s position with clarity. I agree that if a lie can be found in Bush’s Guard records, that that would be a political problem for him. However, the difficulty for the Democrats is that despite all the digging in the data nothing has turned up, and further, since this is an old story in many ways, the public has likely made up their minds already. Plus, as the incumbent, Bush’s distant past is less important than his immediate one.

Kerry’s medal problem, while an old story, has become a new story because interviews he gave to Peter Jennings and Charlie Gibson, and the fact that the Senator has made contradictory statements in the on record on this topic over the years. But, as I have noted, the main issue isn’t what he did in 1971-t is the fact this story fits into the emerging image that Kerry has created: one of a man who has a hard time making a clear statement and who likes to be on all sides of an issue.

The bottom line: Bush doesn’t need his actions in the 1970s to convince the public of his foreign policy and defense bona fides-he has a presidency upon which to base those. However, Kerry desperately needs his actions in the 1970s upon which to build his campaign. This is why Kerry is constantly refers to his service in Viet Nam and why it is that his anti-war activities post-war complicates matters for him (and contribute to the notion that Kerry stakes out multiple positions on a given issue). For Kerry Viet Nam and the 1970s are primary. For Bush, his Guard service, and the 1970s in general, are secondary, if not tertiary.

UPDATE: This is my entry in today’s Beltway Traffic Jam

Filed under: 2004 Campaign
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3 Comments»

  1. Yglesias - in your cited link - wonders why the Republicans are “pushing” this so hard. . .

    How long has Gibson and Jennings been with the GOP, anyway?

    Although, that does all fit in with Kerry’s complaint almost off mike that they were doing the RNC’s job for it. My gosh! It all begins to make sense now - ABC news is simply part of the vast right wing conspiracy/smear machine.

    SL

    Comment by Steven L — Wednesday, April 28, 2004 @ 11:10 am

  2. Yup-I don’t get it, but I have noted a number of folks who are hanging this story on the Republicans directly, when it clearly is a media-generated story.

    Although Yglesias helps illustrate how it is clear that there are folks who see the whole situation quite differently than Reps do.

    Comment by Steven — Wednesday, April 28, 2004 @ 1:50 pm

  3. Another point against the changing horses before the convention. Kerry is raising money hand over fist right now and should have a sizable war chest come July. I doubt that Kerry would be willing to spend all that money on someone who he beat (Edwards) or someone like Clinton. And without that money the new Dem candidate would have a huge hill to climb.

    I think we are in “live boy/dead girl” stage for the democrats. Or, God forbid, a tragic accident like the Wellstone crash.

    Comment by Rob M — Wednesday, April 28, 2004 @ 3:05 pm

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