July 01, 2004

MICKEY KAUS on this bizarre election:

In the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, "just 57 percent of the respondents say they know a lot or a fair amount about Kerry," reports NBC's Mark Murray. That's "a real drop from 68 percent in the NBC/Journal March survey." The voters actually know less about Kerry the more the campaign progresses. It's working! At this impressive rate of memory loss, most of the electorate won't even recognize Kerry's name on the Nov. 2 ballot.

Kaus thinks this is Kerry's strategy. Hey, it just might work!

UPDATE: Related thoughts from Jeff Jarvis.

If this strategy does work, I think it will be terrible for the Democrats long-term. As I've written before, if Kerry's elected solely on an anti-Bush vote, he'll have no mandate, and no base of support. He be Carterized and weak. Jimmy Carter's Presidency begat Ronald Reagan's, and politics haven't been the same for the Democrats since. Would the Dems have been better off losing in 1976? Quite possibly. Or at least electing someone who stood for something, and had the force of character to govern effectively. The country would have been better off, too -- and we can't afford a Carterized presidency right now. Kerry needs to get out and campaign for something, not hide out.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Bill Reece has further thoughts:

By allowing the media and the radical fringe elements of the left to act as his proxies, Kerry has done two things: he has surrendered control over his message (something Clinton would never have done), and he has set George Bush up to claim a mandate should he win re-election. The reason Bush can claim a mandate is fairly simple: his is the only coherent, and wide-ranging "worldview" which is being articulated in this campaign. Everything else is a reaction to and a criticism of that worldview. Should Bush win, even by a relatively narrow margin, I think he can claim that it is vindication of his policies, especially in light of all of the incredibly negative media treatment he has received in the past year. This is dangerous for the Democrats because it leaves them marginalized in the marketplace of ideas (a place with which they should be all too familiar) and politically, and it is less than healthy for the country because Bush's policies need to be challenged and debated on the merits. I happen to agree with many of Bush's policies, but a challenge and debate of those policies and how they have been implemented is sorely needed given the times which we face. Sadly, the "hate Bush" campaign of Kerry and the Democrats cannot and will not give us such a debate.

I think that's right.

And I think it's risky when your strategy involves echoing Saddam by saying "the real villain is Bush."