Sunday, February 29, 2004

Can the Kerry/Edwards ticket beat Bush/Cheney?
Who knows? I don't think so and I'll tell you why. Despite the polls that show Bush's popularity is slumping, there is still a strong constituency that supports his actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Revenge is one of America's strongest collective emotions ("Remember the Alamo!" "Remember the Maine," "Remember Pearl Harbor," et al) and Bush has played on that emotion like a master violinist plays a Stradivarius.
Not that I believe Bush came up with the tactics that put him at the center of the love-fest among nationalists/protectionists (Wolfowitz did that), but he does sell the package smoothly with that wry, college-boy grin of his.
Now Kerry is a strong leader, no doubt. But he's made sophomoric blunders that, I think, will cost him and his running mate (does anyone doubt it's going to be Edwards?) the election unless he recalibrates his strategy and course quickly.
One: Kerry vacillated on several issues, appearing to want to straddle the fence, and that's poison for a Democratic candidate in the current social/political climate. Kerry MUST go on the offensive and stay on the offensive, no matter what the president and his gargantuan reelection team throw at him. He must stand up and say: "Yea, I voted for NAFTA and I'm proud of it. It's just that, when it comes to managing our international trade policies this president hasn't got a clue. Subsequently, rather than Americans benefiting, as they should, from the broader trade routes opened up by NAFTA, Bush's policies have literally chased U.S. companies out of the country. In principle, NAFTA is a good thing. It's just that the nitwit steering the ship of state is ploughing the nation's core jobs market into the dumper!"
But Kerry has tried to defend his vote on NAFTA - BAD MOVE! Drop the defensive posture. ATTACK, ATTACK, ATTACK! And I mean that in a good way. I don't mean go to mudslinging, negative ad campaigns (though I'm sure we'll be subjected to a goodly share of that), I mean stand tall, proud and explain to the electorate how the programs he voted for can work to better the American worker, and how he will adjust the United State's position with NAFTA and turn that sloppy bit of economic horse-trading around so that American workers will see their lives improved by global trade, not destroyed.
And Kerry is overselling his Vietnam experiences. For him to come off sounding too far to the left (and he does) will lead to failure at the voting booths. He must get off that subject except when it's beneficial for him to explain how it built his character, gave him a deeper sense of patriotism and engendered in him a love for all branches of the military and personnel.
And he must stop saying he wants to pull the troops out of Iraq. Bush will make mincemeat out of him with the people who've lost loved ones in that theater and those who sympathize with those same people. Get out in front of that GOP ace-in-the-hole and say we're in it until we succeed, but with a little twist - a thing called international cooperation. If Kerry even suggests he would turn over the management of the Iraqi theater to the U.N. will be like pulling the latch on his own guillotine! But to express a willingness to revisit the international community - especially our allies - with a proposal to open the lines of cooperation and, at the same time, take a little heat off our troops would be prudent and, I think, acceptable even to those hawks who subscribe to the notion of "kill 'em all and let God sort out the innocent."
And Kerry must drive home to the electorate that Bush's first term has brought disastrous results to manufacturers, mom-and-pop stores, employers and employees in any corporation with more than 50 workers, etcetera, etcetera. Let's face it, putting the nation into debt (again) to the tune of $8 trillion in today's dollars is not a good thing. Some debt is healthy, sure, But $8 trillion? A disaster is lurking in the shadows waiting to pounce, and pounce it will unless the government reins in its spending and implements a deficit reduction plan immediately!
I haven't heard Kerry's vision in this regard, but he'd better come up with a viable, easily understandable plan SOON! (Clinton's catch-phrase "It's the economy, stupid" was briliant and, I believe, ultimately led to his win over Bush Sr.).
IF Kerry can manage to overcome the Bush juggernaut and pull this election out, it will be just this side of a miracle. But he can! I believe that! And with Edwards as his vice president, if he can improve the national and international standing of America during his first term and capture a second term, I envision a 16-year run with Democrats in the White House.
Now Congress is another animal altogether. But Congress will be facing the toughest questions ever faced since FDR's New Deal programs were implemented. This country is headed for a massive recession, followed by a tragic depression unless some tough decisions are made with regard to Social Security, Medicare, higher education funding, military spending, space exploration, the whole spectrum of government-fed programs our tax dollars are used to propel. We need a brand new bunch in both houses of Congress, and I mean pronto! The business-as-usual bunch has got to go before they run the nation out of business or sell it to the Saudis and Chinese.
However, winning the White House will be the first step in a long, arduous road for the nation's leaders (and I use the term leaders skeptically ...).
My one true hope is, that the presidential election doesn't come down to a recount in Florida, or any state, because that would spell disaster for the Democrats, without a doubt!
I'm out.


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