April 28, 2004


In recent appearances, Mr. Kerry’s digressions and obfuscations about whether he threw a war medal or a ribbon on the White House lawn in 1971—or whether the young Mr. Kerry should have used the word “war crimes” to describe actions in Vietnam—have obscured the candidate. At every turn, he has managed to turn the TV screen into smoked glass: He’s right in front of you, but you can’t … quite … make … him … out. With his morose patrician mien and robotic delivery—parodied with precision by Jon Stewart on the Monday, April 24, Daily Show, surely not a good thing for the candidate—Mr. Kerry’s TV performances are sounding a gut-level alarm about his ability to inspire confidence in the electorate. . . .

“I’m not sure what the message is—that may be the essence of the problem,” said Joe McGinniss, the author of The Selling of the President, the best-seller that detailed Richard M. Nixon’s media strategy. As a Massachusetts resident, Mr. McGinniss said he had never seen Mr. Kerry do well on TV—or even in public, for that matter.

I’m pretty sure that if John Edwards were the presumptive nominee, we wouldn’t be hearing so much voters’ remorse from Democrats. This sounds like Bob Dole all over again: He can’t connect with the public, he’s unappealing on TV, but we’ll nominate him anyway! Did we mention he’s a war hero? They always win!

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