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June 29, 2004

Inspiration, and its absence

It seemed so sad during the primary season this year that so many people chose John Kerry as their man over Howard Dean largely because they deemed him more electable. The goal of the election this year, has from the beginning not been about finding a great president to lead us boldly through the next four years, but about firing the current bad president. Howard Dean inspired a lot of us, but he was too liberal and too full of bravado to carry the more moderate democratic voting base, and much too, well, Howard Dean, to get many republican fence-sitters. Kerry was the man. And for one main reason--his electability. And so he's the candidate.

The problem is, that we now have a candidate who a lot of people don't know much about. They didn't choose Kerry because they agreed with his stance on taxes, health care, or same-sex marriage. They chose him because he wasn't a freakshow like Dean (and I mean that in the most flattering way, Howard). They didn't need to know much about him, because they weren't choosing him so much as they were not choosing someone else. Is anyone all that excited about Kerry? Do they know what he stands for? Do they care? Or just that he isn't Bush?

So there are lots of people rallied around Bush. We've got lots of people that are rallied around the cause of getting rid of Bush. But are that many people rallied around Kerry? The polls don't really seem to show it. With approval ratings that low for Bush, Kerry should be riding high, but he's still running pretty even with him. At this point, it's not a race between Kerry and Bush. It's a race between Bush and notBush. (Or nonBush, if you prefer).

And people are worried. Because how can you maintain momentum through to November if you never built any up in the first place? Arianna Huffington is one of those trying to get Kerry to start getting his hands dirty. Together with Joe Trippi, late of Dean's campaign, she's started an online petition asking Kerry to start inspiring voters to want him rather than relying on them to not want the other guy. Why his people aren't pushing for that too, I don't understand, unless there is some strategy to holding back. Otherwise, it makes me a little concerned that they know that if he did open his mouth, we'd want to turn the clock back to the hour before he did.

Posted by paulette at June 29, 2004 02:16 PM | TrackBack
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You'll feel better if you read this, from John Moltz
Cause to be optimistic
Despite the continued parade of "Bush should be doing worse!" stories you will see, the best analysis I've heard was related to me by a friend over the weekend who said she heard it on NPR.

How many people have you heard of who voted for Gore last time who say they are going to vote for Bush this time? How many people have you heard of who are going to do the opposite?

I'd like Kerry to be louder, but I also buy the "don't interrupt the process of Bush falling in the polls." Also, if you see David's post from yesterday, I think virtually every Washington insider now expects more huge bad things to happen to Bush and Co. soon. And with Bush running his Hitler ads, I'm actually quite happy that there is a little moral high ground to be claimed. An angry Bush is an ugly Bush, and he just gets less presidential every day. I don't think Kerry is wrong to hide and watch a bit longer.

Posted by: jay on June 29, 2004 03:56 PM

for the most part, an incumbent president is always running against himself. if people thought bush was doing a great job, no candidate would be able to defeat him.

the opposing candidate doesn't really enter the public's view until after the conventions. kerry should remain quiet right now & let the focus remain on bush (and the failed policies and political scandels). look at his approval ratings & you'll see the real picture of where the race stands.

this crap about a candidate who "inspires" comes from the far left of the democratic party & really does little to help kerry in looking at the big picture. if he doesn't appeal to the swing voter, the mass in the middle, then he will lose.

Posted by: jason on June 29, 2004 09:31 PM

I for one am pleased that Kerry will be the candidate. Although I certainly would prefer it if he were progressive on many many issues, I see him as validating (or re-validating) the qualities that we should expect from a leader of our nation: intellect, seriousness, comfort on a personal level with our being part of a world community, deliberateness, experience with the legislative process, and (dare I say it) good taste. Perhaps we need a return to this kind of leadership to kill the "f*** you" mentality and actually get something done.

Posted by: Seth on June 30, 2004 02:21 PM
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