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Maintaining Optimism in the Face of Reality. Occasional observations on the state of the world, society, business and politics. Usually anchored by facts, always augmented by opinion.


Kerry's Fatal Mistake: Insulting Voters' Intelligence  | e-mail post

David Brooks has a good column in today's NY Times, "Kerry Off the Leash," about why Kerry's late-in-the-game charges against Bush (that he will take away Social Security, reinstate the draft and do nothing to resurrect Christopher Reeve) could backfire against him. His final paragraphs spell it out clearly.
Bush's key vulnerability is that people fear he is in over his head. By lashing out wildly, Kerry muddles all that. Instead his blunderbuss approach suggests a candidate devoid of perspective, driven by unattractive and naked ambition.

Why is he doing this? First, because in the insular Democratic world, George Bush is presumed to be guilty of everything, so the more vicious you can be about him, the better everybody feels.

But there is a deeper assumption, which has marred Democratic politics for years. Some Democrats have been unable to face the reality that people have been voting for Republicans because they agree with them. So these Democrats have invented the comforting theory that they've been losing because they are too virtuous for the country.

According to this theory, Republicans - or usually some omniscient, omnipotent and malevolent strategists, like Lee Atwater or Karl Rove - have been tricking the American people into voting against their true interests. This year, many Democrats decided, we'll be vicious in return.

The truth, however, is that voters are not idiots. They are capable of independent thought. If you attack your opponent wildly, ruthlessly, they will come to their own conclusions.
Brooks makes a good point. Even if we suppose the Democrat's boogeyman charges against the likes of Rove and Atwater hold any water, they surely can't account for (or at least entirely explain) the steady growth of Republican control of both house of the federal legislature, of statehouses, and of Governorships. Of course, the irony is the number of Dems I hear mention that the Republican party secures its victories by relying on the ignorance of the American public. It flows perfectly with the explicit or implied derision Kerry expressed of any country that joined the U.S. in going to Iraq.

Maybe I have aligned myself with the wrong party. It would seem a certified misanthropic elitist such as myself would be much more at home with the Democrats.

P.S. Don't forget to check Jay Cost's Horserace Blog every day. He does a great job of scanning the news, particularly as it relates to polling and indications of support, as well as putting together more detailed analysis of certain swing states every few days. It's a must read if numbers don't scare you.


e-mail post | Link Cosmos | [Permalink]  |  | Tuesday, October 19, 2004
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