Friday, April 23, 2004

Howard Fineman takes stock of the Prez Race

Newseek's Howard Fineman has 9 reasons Why the Race is Looking so Good for Bush. Fineman is always worth a read because he has a good sense of what is politically important, and when he is wrong, he says so. For instance, under his second reason:

Fallujah and Najaf. Politics is a game of context. And for now, this early in the campaign, the context isn’t Bush versus Kerry—it’s Bush versus the murderers and thugs. The first reaction of Americans wasn’t “what were those contractors doing in Fallujah in the first place?” It was “we must punish the beasts who killed and savagely mutilated them.” As a political analyst, my first thought was: All this video is bad for Bush, because it makes his Iraq policy look like a failure. I was wrong, of course. [He] may pay politically for Iraq at some point, but not right now. For now, it’s still rally ’round the commander-in-chief, if for no other reason than to show that we are not Spain.

The final reason Fineman gives is probably the one that won't change:
Kerry, of course. John Kerry is durable, unflappable and determined. He works to be in the right place at the right time, and often is. He has no illusions about his own star power or charisma. He is a wooden campaigner, and his 20 years in the Senate have left him unable to see that bragging about legislative maneuvers is the last thing you want to do. Kerry explained to supporters recently that he’d voted for the $87 billion before he’d voted against it. In his mind, evidently, he was merely explaining (with a mordant sense of humor) how the Senate works. But now that line is the centerpiece of a BC04 attack ad. Kerry told financial supporters in New York the other week that his objective, for now, was to “preserve my acceptability.” That’s a pretty low standard—but one he won’t meet if that is his only goal. So far, his strategy has amounted mostly to: Vote for me, I’m not Bush. That’s not enough, especially if Kerry is seen by most voters the way the BC04 ad portrays him: as a flip-flopping manipulative insider.

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