The incredible shrinking candidate

Trunk argues below that John Kerry is the worst major party candidate since George McGovern. Says Trunk, “As a stump speaker, [Kerry] is pathetic. He is incapable of rousing even a friendly audience. He lacks a common touch of any kind. The incoherence of his positions on the campaign’s major issues has reached comic proportions. As of this moment, his campaign faithfully reflects his political weaknesses.”
Here’s another problem with the Kerry campaign — its unwillingness to lose a news cycle. Recall how, during the Republican convention, Kerry felt compelled to throw together a late-night tirade in which he attacked Dick Cheney. All that saved Kerry that night was the fact that the major networks didn’t carry the speech and most voters had already gone to bed anyway.
Then, this week, Kerry and his top campaign staff saw fit to attack Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi as a puppet living in a fantasy world, after Allawi had the audacity, while thanking the U.S. in an address to Congress, to suggest that the situation in Iraq is other than hopeless. Similarly, Kerry trashed President Bush’s address to the United Nations within an hour of its completion.
The rapid response, war room campaign mentality has its virtues. But they do not trump the imperative that a presidential candidate appear statesmanlike, or at least generally supportive of the nation’s objectives. Politics isn’t sports — you can’t play a campaign one “game” at a time without regard to long-range consequences. And you certainly can’t barge into the batter’s box when it’s the other guy’s turn to hit. How many news cycles did President Bush lose between January and August? Many more than he won, I’d say (and just ask Rocket Man if you don’t believe me). Yet he still finds himself ahead because he stayed poised, presidential, and focused on the big picture. John Kerry lacks the discipline and, one must conclude, the stature to follow suit.


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