Let Kerry Be Kerry?

Sebastian Mallaby explains how Kerry can win:

Maybe the handlers know their job, and Kerry’s studious unstudiousness is great for his election prospects. Maybe it’s true that campaigns are won with simple tricks: an appealing biography, a memorable slogan — it’s the bumper sticker, stupid, as James Carville might put it. But it’s hard to believe that voters — especially the open-minded swing voters who decide elections — are really that shallow. Did George W. Bush win in 2000 because of his silver-spoon biography? Did Bill Clinton win in 1996 by promising a meaningless “bridge to the 21st century”? Not likely.

Candidates (and especially challengers) win elections by offering compelling visions, and those visions have to be based on real policies.


Allow me to paraphrase.

John Kerry is the policy wonk’s wet dream. Give’em detailed policy proposals! Explain further the long-term revenue-enhancement benefits of eliminating (or at least scaling back) accelerated depreciation for capital investments by major corporations! White papers! Green reports! Blue books!

Oh, god, yes… yes… yes… I’m going to vote… I’m going to vote… I’m voting, I’m voting, I’m voting now.

Now, does anyone think that’s going to turn on people who don’t live inside the beltway?

Kerry can win — but not by playing from the Mike Dukakis playbook. Strange that Mallory didn’t mention the ’88 presidential race.


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