Roger L. Simon

Why the Donkey Got No Bounce

Pundits from Dick Morris to MK (that’s Mickey Kaus, not Member of Knesset) are sucking their political thumbs today about why the new Donkey-in-Chief got no-to-negligible bounce from his convention. The curiously silent Voices of Experience (mainstream media) are ascribing this… when they’re talking… to the CW that the electorate is already polarized, but the aforesaid gentlemen aren’t buying… as well they shouldn’t.

The Mickster sez Kerry did a good enough job for him and opines: If even Kerry’s best didn’t help him much, what’s a Democrat to do? … Hint: Rhymes with “Titanic.”

And “Le Roi of Realpolitik” himself… Morris… says: Voters don’t want a lieutenant for president. They want a commander-in-chief.

The heart of the problem seems to have been Kerry’s obsession with Vietnam to the exclusion of anything else (after Clinton, Obama, et al had pointed the way back to domestic issues, usually favorable to Democrats). This blog, as some will recall, (warning: back-patting) was not impressed with Kerry’s speech or his bland war movie, but Catherine Johnson, writing in the comments here, had what I think is the most original explanation for the “no bounce.” As she reiterated to me today in email:

The one thing I haven’t seen anywhere, though, and that makes me wish I were a political writer, is the fact that Kerry chose to spend an entire speech associating himself with a military defeat.

Military defeats are horrifically traumatic for countries and peoples, and no one has picked up on this.

I think she’s spot on. And on top of this Kerry is confusing the electorate. How are they supposed to react to a man who is endlessly trumpeting his heroism in a war that he thought we never should have fought even before he volunteered for it? No matter how you stand on Vietnam, that’s puzzling. And as the linchpin of a presidential campaign in 2004, it’s absurd.