Walking Back the CW: There are more than 20 campaign stories in today's NYT--but nothing on the most interesting developing story, namely the potential turmoil in the Kerry campaign. We are forced to turn to the unproven-but-intriguing Washington Prowler, which suggests that Kerry was done in by ... ABC's The Note, which now-famously declared three weeks ago that it was Kerry's "contest to lose."
"This has been just a brutal two weeks for him," says another Kerry adviser. "He had people telling him the Swift Boat ads weren't going to take because the media was going to ignore them. There are senior people around Kerry who were buying into all the press clippings that this was our campaign to lose. ..." [Emph. added]
Meanwhile, the estimable Charlie Cook, in his latest e-mailed convention dispatch, writes
It really is pretty amazing how fast the conventional wisdom can change. Three weeks ago, most political insiders in both parties gave Sen. John Kerry a slight edge over President Bush ...
Was it the CW, Charlie--or was it you? ABC's "contest to lose" blooper was explicitly based on Cook's incumbents-never-win-the-undecideds analysis. Today Cook declares
[I]n the absence of some major external event or a monumental screwup by Bush or Kerry in this fall's presidential debates, neither candidate is likely to build a significant, sustainable lead.
Why do we think that this CW is any more true than the "contest to lose" CW? Isn't it possible that, in the teeth of media resistance, Bush will build a small-but-significant lead (absent some huge setback on Iraq or the economy)? ... Update: At least WSJ's Al Hunt is on the Kerry Shake-Up case. He's short on names and dances around the 'Whither-Shrum' issue, but he does have Kerry "said to be 'bouncing off the walls' in frustration." The CW diagnosis of Kerry's problem, according to Hunt?
Leading Democrats describe a command structure often frozen -- or at least tempered -- by too many chefs, a too-heavy reliance on polls or focus groups and an aversion to risks. As a result, the message often is muddled and the reaction to hard-hitting attacks from Republicans often is slow and unconvincing. [Emphasis added.]
Two questions: 1) Message? What message? That's the problem! Vietnam was, for Kerry, the substitute for a message; 2) Why, exactly, would a quicker and harder-hitting reaction to the Swifty attacks have helped Kerry? Mightn't it have made the attacks an even bigger deal? [Update: Bill Carrick agrees! ] Even today, Kerry's answers on a) Cambodia and b) the first Purple Heart are less than 100% satisfactory. Yes, a full-Ferraro press conference might put the Swifty issue to rest, but the Kerry camp is obviously unwilling to risk that. ... 12:25 P.M.
Monday, August 30, 2004
Thanks, Iowa--Part XVIII: Zogby has polled undecided voters. They don't like Bush's performance in office (disapproving by a 77-23 margin). But then they were asked "Do you or don't you like John Kerry as a person?" The results? Dislike--52%. Like--16%. It's almost as if uninformed Iowa voters in a front-loaded primary system anointed the one candidate who might through sheer force of his own unappealing personality lose the race to a vulnerable incumbent! Only time will tell. ... Update: That's a Zogby Interactive poll of "panels of likely voters who have agreed to take part in online surveys." Never mind! ... 7:04 P.M.