Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Democrats Slow On the Uptake

A Michael Tomasky column in The American Prospect considers the reasons why, despite being supported by significant majorities on most key issues, the Democrats still get their asses handed to them by Republicans. He does a good job of identifying the Karl Rove genius: it's all about perception, and public perception is surprisingly easily malleable through the use of very simple tactics. Democrats frequently fall victim to relying on the public to support them for their superior policy positions, and fall victim to astute manipulation of public perception by folks like Rove.

Nowhere can this be more clear than John Kerry, who was chosen precisely along the lines of this sort of thinking. Democrats felt they had a slam dunk on the issues and wanted the safest and dryest candidate to get them there. They were simply after the guy who was least vulnerable to attack, so that they wouldn't blow their big opportunity. They failed to recognize that there is no such candidate who is safe from attack, and that if they don't aggressively act to set the agenda, Karl Rove will be more than happy to do it for them, and the issues that they want to talk about will not be on that agenda. This thought seems to be suddenly occurring to them, and now trying to make an about face, but Kerry is just not the man for this job. Case in point:

Yesterday John Kerry finally decided to take a stand on Iraq stating:

"Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who deserves his own special place in hell, but that was not, in itself, a reason to go to war. The satisfaction we take in his downfall does not hide this fact: We have traded a dictator for a chaos that has left America less secure."

George Bush needed only to roll out Kerry's comments regarding Howard Dean's statement that the capture of Saddam did not make the US safer:

"I couldn't disagree more. And not so long ago, so did my opponent. Last December, he said this: "Those who doubted whether Iraq or the world would be better off without Saddam Hussein, and those who believe we are not safer with his capture don't have the judgment to be President or the credibility to be elected President." I could not have said it better."

Could we make it any easier for him? Am I still bitter about Dean losing? Damn right I am. What a stupid, stupid mistake. It still galls me every time I see Kerry speak. Dean was defining the agenda from the moment he came onto the scene. He could speak in simple, strong terms about what he believed in and wanted to achieve. And he was not shy about launching direct attacks against mistakes made by the Bush administration, something Kerry has only now realized he needs to be doing. He was the man that Democrats now wish Kerry was. Playing it safe isn't good enough when the other side is playing for keeps.

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