Voting against

Voting against

: I’ve just realized, in a duh moment, that the Democrats are not running their campaign for John Kerry. They are running only against George Bush.

Lately, it has appeared to me that Kerry has been all but hiding. He’s just not making news. I wondered whether it was all media’s fault (what right-wing media?). So I went to GoogleNews and looked up what Kerry has been up to lately. Not much. He’s wooing Hispanics. Or he’s not crossing police picket lines. Or he’s taking time off (if it works for George…).

And then I went walking on Sixth Avenue yesterday and found yet another group of eager young people holding battered clipboards with “Beat Bush” stickers on them, stopping liberal-looking people (they don’t go after me when I am wearing my suit, my protective-coloration at work, which apparently looks Republican even if I’m not wearing the flag in the lapel). I’ve seen them everywhere in New York (for example, at the exit to the premiere of Fahrenheit 9/11). So I stopped one of them yesterday and asked them what they were doing. “Raising money for battleground states,” the friendly young man said. On whose behalf? The DNC, as it turns out.

So the Democratic National Committee has a very well-organized army of volunteers out not trying to support Kerry but instead trying to beat Bush.


That is how they are running this campaign. And it strikes me as a cynical and ultimately empty campaign. It offers no reason for voters to get excited and run out and vote for Kerry (which I’m dying for him to do). It sets no agenda in the debate. It falls into the divisive, extremist hands of Michael Moore and the neonuts. It does not create a mandate based on issues. It’s a campaign against, not for.

That’s how the DNC is running things. And Kerry? He is hiding. I don’t hear him inspiring the nation with daring policy. He’s doing dull things that get dull coverage. He’s just keeping his head down. He’s trying to outdo Ralph Nader as the candidate of the None of the Above party.

But the sad thing is that it seems to be working. Kerry’s poll numbers are OK. He’s raising record amounts of money. And Bush has plenty of problems. This could be the way to win. Only problem is, when you win, you’re just the other guy.

: Let’s add that this isn’t all Kerry’s fault. It’s a media issue, too. As media fosters the divisiveness and gives publicity to the extremists first, it’s best if you can just keep your head down and stay out of the fray. It’s a heckuva way to run a democracy.

: As I was writing this post, I found a link to Dick Morris saying that this, indeed, is the Kerry strategy:

:The man who had won his party’s nomination by stepping aside and letting Dean destroy himself, now sought to repeat the act as President Bush wrestled with al Qaeda and the Baathists in Iraq and with Richard Clarke closer to home….

Will the real John Kerry emerge from the shadows then? Don’t bet on it. The senator’s canned appearances at his party convention are not likely to improve our knowledge of his credentials, character or political ideology.

So until August, at the earliest, the Democratic Party will be represented by a man few of us know.

If this is his strategy, Kerry’s being wise. Modern politics is a lot like modern warfare, where precision-guided munitions never miss. The best way to avoid being killed is to avoid being seen.

As Dean found out between November and January, and Bush learned in April and May, when you are the center of attention, your risk of political mortality is very high.

Only the stealth candidate