Camping and Campaigning
I promised to provide an update to my previous column
on preparing to go camping, so here it is. The rehearsal
was much worse than the actual performance. Camping
was fun. Putting up the tent was a breeze (once someone
kindly demonstrated the technique for us in the backyard)
and sleeping on the air mattress was extremely comfortable.
I'd do it again, although I'd prefer nicer bathroom
facilities. The most amazing thing about our camping
trip was the lack of insects. We have more flies in
our house than I saw at Lake Cachuma.
So much for camping. On to campaigning. I don't care whom you're planning to vote for in November, but it must have struck you by now that the Democrats are messing up big time. A few months ago, I'd have given them terrific odds, based simply on what they inherited. A lousy economy. An abominable health care system. Backwards motion on the environment and now, on automatic weapons. A noticeable lack of WMDs (along with grave suspicions about being misled into war in Iraq, with U.S. casualties as well as insurgent attacks mounting.) Abu Ghraib. And, a glaringly still missing Osama bin Laden (you remember him-the guy who started it all). You name it, the pickings seemed grand.
So what have the Democrats done with all that? Practically nothing. In fact, they spent the month of August on the defensive, answering the Swift Boat allegations, and coming back with their own feeble attacks on Bush's questionable National Guard duty. Who cares? A month wasted arguing about what did or did not happen thirty years ago. The RNC must have been gleeful; let's face it, they have the Commander-in-Chief, so how badly can the Bush de-tour of duty affect them now? On the other hand, since Kerry's only shot at anything approaching charisma was attached to his Vietnam service, even slight misgivings about that could be damaging. That's obviously what the DNC thought too, which is why they wasted a month.
Not only did they not get the expected bounce after their campaign, but they never seemed to get the ball rolling at all. No momentum building. No going on the offensive. No carefully articulated plan for how they were going to FIX things. Bush had a better plan, and it was the same plan he had four years ago. Issues that appeared ready to ignite-normally huge democratic issues- have been left to sputter and die out, leaving the Democrats with no firmer grip on them than the Republicans. There was a gaping hole that needed filling, but Kerry and the Dems have sidestepped it, preferring to pander to the center and the undecideds, while the core of the party, the left-wing liberal, is forced to pretend that Kerry is their man. The Republicans are much more clever. The party does the pandering, with speeches from centrist favorites, but everyone on the conservative right knows that Bush is with them. He is their man.
What is Kerry going to do about healthcare? About unemployment? How will he clean up the mess that is Iraq? What's his exit strategy? No one seems to know. And suddenly, no one seems to care, because they just can't work up a sweat about Kerry.
What they should have done is get Kerry some charisma NOW, in 2004. I don't know how they would do that, but if someone comes up with the answer to that, he or she would sure be the hero of the campaign. Problem is, the very mess that Kerry and the Democrats inherited, the mess that should have handed them a dozen issues to hammer away at, is the very same mess that's going to defeat them.
Here's why. Polls show that people like George W. Bush. Strangely, even those who disagree with his policies like him. Stranger still, even those who think they're worse off than they were four years ago like him. So, even if the Democrats finally got smart and began to hammer away at how bad the economy is, or how much less safe from terrorism the world is, or how "missing" bin Laden is, that doesn't mean that people will vote for Kerry. What it means is, everything sucks, no one has any solutions, it will probably get worse no matter who's in office, so we'll vote for the guy we like more. George Bush hasn't made anyone like him less. And John Kerry hasn't made anyone like him more.
me your opinions at LParis@netlistings.com