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Author Topic: Some thoughts on the 2004 Democratic Campaign  (Read 517 times)
Gabu
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« on: September 21, 2004, 06:20:44 pm »
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I'm not going to call this election for either candidate at the moment, as there's still 40-odd days to go and the debates have not occurred yet, so it could still go either way.  This topic is not a concession speech.  However, given all that is happening at the moment, it seems clear to me that Kerry's campaign is in trouble.  By all accounts it appears that Bush is indeed in the lead and Kerry isn't doing much at the moment to build any sort of momentum.

The following is where I believe this election has gone wrong for the Democrats and what I think could have been done a lot better.  I apologize if it gets a bit rambling; this is just off the top of my head:

1. Message.

Kerry does have stances on issues.  Really, he does.  It says so on his website.  Anyone who really wanted to find out could go there and find out.  However, at this point, I honestly cannot blame those who claim that he doesn't.  One of Bush's advantages in this election as the incumbent is that everyone knows who he is and what he stands for; Kerry has no such advantage.

Kerry's job as the challenger was to define who he is, why he'd make a better president, and why you should vote for him.  The first point has been beaten to death; by now I'd imagine that everyone knows that he's a Vietnam veteran who was awarded five medals.  On the second and third point, however, I feel that Kerry has failed miserably.  Kerry has not had a consistent, clear message for either why he's better than Bush (other than that he isn't Bush) or why you should vote for him.

In the landslides of 1936 and 1984, it would be silly to suggest that every single person who voted for either Roosevelt or Reagan agreed 100% with the candidate's stances on issues.  People don't vote for a candidate because they agree with every single one of the candidate's stances.  There's room for disagreement.  What people really want is a leader who they feel they can trust to make the right decisions and who will always keep America's best interest at heart.  Kerry's failure to stake out a consistent message translates into a failure to project this necessary image.

In the future, Democrats must stake out a clear, understandable message that the people can listen to.  We cannot win elections if we aren't clear about our intentions and goals.

2. "Electability".

Q.  What the heck is "electability"?

A. "Electability" has two meanings depending on how it's used.  If it's used to relate to the composition of a candidate, it describes how much the qualities of a candidate make the public likely to accept him or her as a viable choice.  If it's used independent of all other qualities of a candidate, however, as it was in the 2004 Democratic primaries, it's a completely meaningless word that should be discarded and ignored.

Kerry had one main thing going for him in the 2004 Democratic primaries: he was "electable".  He didn't have tons of charisma.  That was John Edwards.  He didn't have tons of energy or a clear message.  That was Howard Dean.  He didn't have tons of military credentials.  That was Wesley Clark.  However, he was "electable".  What does this mean, if he doesn't have any charisma, energy, message, or credentials?  To be frank, it means absolutely nothing.  It's a meaningless term that gained baseless credibility through overuse.

Kerry isn't boring, but he's not very exciting.  Kerry isn't repulsive, but he's not very likable.  Kerry isn't saying gibberish, but he doesn't have a very clear message.  In short, Kerry is hopelessly average.  "Average" does not equal "electable".  People do not want someone completely average.  People can ignore or even come to like quirks as long as the person has a clear message and conveys it in a likable manner.

In the future, Democrats have to look for more than someone inconspicuous as our candidate.  We cannot win elections if we are afraid of who we are and what we stand for.

3. Focus.

This election, by all accounts and purposes, has been clear across the slate of topics.  It went from "electability" to Vietnam to the Texas Air National Guard to CBS and to just about everything in between.  A clear message and a good candidate are nothing if none of it gets showcased.

Kerry has spent far too much time simply answering criticism and attacks and has spent far too little time actually saying what he needs to say.  Not every charge needs an entire paragraph dedicated to answering it.  Refute it if you must (sometimes you really don't even need to do that) but then get on with what you need to talk about.  If one candidate is trying to steer the debate into a direction, steer it back.  Ignore that topic and talk about what you want the public to hear, not what the other guy wants the public to hear.

In the future, Democrats have to consistently talk about what we need to say and refuse to let the other candidate steer the direction of the discourse.  We cannot win elections that are out of our control.

Like I said, I am not yet calling this election for Bush.  Kerry still has a chance to say something substantial, to win the debates, and to continue on to win the election.  It could happen.  It could also happen that he never recovers.  At this point the election could go both ways.

However, I still feel that the 2004 Democratic campaign could have easily been done a lot better.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2004, 09:18:23 pm by Gabu »Logged



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« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2004, 08:35:51 pm »
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   Much of the blame gfoes to events out of control of the Kerry camp. The BS memos that CBS pushed has sucked the air out of the Kerry camp in the last week and have further energized the GOP base, while the distortions of Kerrys record by the Swift Boaty COWARDS(men who have guts whould not resort to distortion of a mans record) has made the socially conservative but economically populist blue collar voters unsure about Kerry. Again, Kerry is lucky this took place in Mid Sept, not mid Oct, so he has time to recover, but again he has to have focus.

  The bright side for Kerry is that despite his mis steps, despite events outside of his control and despite COWRADLY distortions on his past record, he is only a few points behind(and yes, I feel that Gallup is a bit off its rocker).  THe election needs to be based on issues, such as the quagmire in Iraq, the rented economic recovery(though Asian centeral banks buying US bonds non stop and illresponible spending and tax cuts), and job outsourcing.
 
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Nym90
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« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2004, 08:49:03 pm »
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   Much of the blame gfoes to events out of control of the Kerry camp. The BS memos that CBS pushed has sucked the air out of the Kerry camp in the last week and have further energized the GOP base, while the distortions of Kerrys record by the Swift Boaty COWARDS(men who have guts whould not resort to distortion of a mans record) has made the socially conservative but economically populist blue collar voters unsure about Kerry. Again, Kerry is lucky this took place in Mid Sept, not mid Oct, so he has time to recover, but again he has to have focus.

  The bright side for Kerry is that despite his mis steps, despite events outside of his control and despite COWRADLY distortions on his past record, he is only a few points behind(and yes, I feel that Gallup is a bit off its rocker).  THe election needs to be based on issues, such as the quagmire in Iraq, the rented economic recovery(though Asian centeral banks buying US bonds non stop and illresponible spending and tax cuts), and job outsourcing.
 

Excellent points, JNB.

It depends on whether you look at the glass as half empty or half full. Everyone talks about how Kerry has run such a horrible campaign, and is such a horrible candidate, but guess what, he's only 5 points behind. He can still win this thing. Despite Bush having run a much better campaign so far, the election is still pretty close. 5 points is far from a landslide and is far from a safe lead at this juncture. So looking on the bright side for the Dems, everything has gone Bush's way and against Kerry for a month or more now and yet Bush is only 5 points ahead. That shows that there is still a solid base of ABBers, and that the public is far from sold on Bush. Kerry can win this election if he can turn it around and start running a decent campaign. It's far from over, and definitely not too late by any means.

I'm still confident that Kerry will win, because of the reasons you have listed. Bush can't keep muddling the facts and dodging these questions forever.
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« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2004, 09:09:18 pm »
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I really think it would be nice if Kerry would contrast his preferences on the issues with Bush's.

Perhaps he can promote his opposition to the proposal to ban Partial Birth Abortion.

Maybe he can trumphet his opposition to capital punishment?

He really should stop playing games and do a Mondale and admit he supports higher taxes (well, at least Mondale was honorable about this)

He should be honest about his position on Gay Marriage (his current public position differs from the one he took a couple of years ago).

He should also tell us how a Kerry department of education would promote bilingual education over immersion.

He should tell the voters that he supports racial preferences for education, employment, etc.

Yes, it would be a very interesting campaign if Kerry would contrast his stand with those of Bush on these issues.
« Last Edit: September 22, 2004, 07:55:20 am by CARLHAYDEN »Logged

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« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2004, 09:15:23 pm »
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I agree. Kerry should come out on his abortion and tax stances a LOT harder.
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Nym90
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« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2004, 11:35:30 pm »
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I really think it would be nice if Kerry would contrast his preferences on the issues with Bush's.

Perhaps he can promote his opposition to the proposal to ban Partial Birth Abortion.

Maybe he can trumphet his opposition to capital punishment?

He really should stop playing games and do a Mondale and admit he supports higher taxes (well, at least Mondale was honorable about this)

He should be honest about his position on Gay Marriage (his current public position differs from the one he took a couple of years ago).

He should also tell us how a Kerry department of education would promote bilingual educatikon over immersion.

He should tell the voters that he supports racial preferencesfor education, employment, etc.

Yes, it would be a very interesting campaign if Kerry would contrast his stand with those of Bush on these issues.

Bush is free to bring up any or all of these topics if he so chooses. So far, he hasn't. I don't see why Kerry has anymore responsibility to talk about these things than Bush.

And on taxes, he does not take Mondale's position. It's not playing games to support a tax increase for the top 2% and cuts for the other 98%.

Bush should just stop "playing games" and admit that he doesn't give a damn about budget deficits. Just do the little smirk and say "Hey, I'll be long gone out of office by the time it really matters anyway; let someone else deal with it."
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Gabu
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« Reply #6 on: September 22, 2004, 12:24:44 am »
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   Much of the blame gfoes to events out of control of the Kerry camp. The BS memos that CBS pushed has sucked the air out of the Kerry camp in the last week and have further energized the GOP base, while the distortions of Kerrys record by the Swift Boaty COWARDS(men who have guts whould not resort to distortion of a mans record) has made the socially conservative but economically populist blue collar voters unsure about Kerry. Again, Kerry is lucky this took place in Mid Sept, not mid Oct, so he has time to recover, but again he has to have focus.

  The bright side for Kerry is that despite his mis steps, despite events outside of his control and despite COWRADLY distortions on his past record, he is only a few points behind(and yes, I feel that Gallup is a bit off its rocker).  THe election needs to be based on issues, such as the quagmire in Iraq, the rented economic recovery(though Asian centeral banks buying US bonds non stop and illresponible spending and tax cuts), and job outsourcing.
 

Excellent points, JNB.

It depends on whether you look at the glass as half empty or half full. Everyone talks about how Kerry has run such a horrible campaign, and is such a horrible candidate, but guess what, he's only 5 points behind. He can still win this thing. Despite Bush having run a much better campaign so far, the election is still pretty close. 5 points is far from a landslide and is far from a safe lead at this juncture. So looking on the bright side for the Dems, everything has gone Bush's way and against Kerry for a month or more now and yet Bush is only 5 points ahead. That shows that there is still a solid base of ABBers, and that the public is far from sold on Bush. Kerry can win this election if he can turn it around and start running a decent campaign. It's far from over, and definitely not too late by any means.

I'm still confident that Kerry will win, because of the reasons you have listed. Bush can't keep muddling the facts and dodging these questions forever.

Oh, I know.  Like I said, I'm not calling the election for Bush yet.  Recent events may have shaken my confidence somewhat, but I'm certainly not writing this one off yet.

Kerry isn't a horrible candidate and it hasn't been a horrible campaign.  Like I said, it was pretty much average, in my view.  I said that I liked Kerry in a previous topic and that's still true.  I'm not talking at all about his ability to be the president.  He wasn't my first choice, but I think he'd be an okay president.

That said, however, I still feel that this election could have been run a lot better than it had been, even given the things that were, admittedly, out of Kerry's control.  How he reacted to those things was completely up to him.  As well as that, I agree with those who say that his campaign has been based too much on his Vietnam credentials and not on enough else.

There's still time, though; I would really like to hear him start to pick and then hammer in a clear, concise message in the last 40 days.  He needs to be more aggressive than he currently is and he needs to remind the American public what Bush has been up to over the past four years and why they shouldn't like it rather than answering criticisms about his Vietnam service and about other things that are extremely irrelevent.  If he could do that and perform well in the debates, I'd say he certainly does still have a chance.
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« Reply #7 on: September 22, 2004, 12:34:42 am »
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Exactly. Kerry has allowed this election to become a referendum on himself. As long as it's a referendum on Bush, Kerry will win. Most elections ultimately become a referendum on the performance of the incumbent. Kerry just needs to stop allowing Bush to muddy the facts and make him own up to his true record.

I give them credit; the Republicans are masters at turning positives for their opponents into negatives and negatives of their own into positives.

It's also worth noting that I don't think that either Kerry or his campaign are terrible either. I was just responding to the fact that Republicans keep saying that Kerry is a terrible candidate and has run a horrible campaign. If that's true, and yet Bush is only 5 points ahead, I don't see what the Republicans have to be smug about.
« Last Edit: September 22, 2004, 12:36:26 am by SCJ Nym90 »Logged
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« Reply #8 on: September 22, 2004, 12:46:57 am »
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   Much of the blame gfoes to events out of control of the Kerry camp. The BS memos that CBS pushed has sucked the air out of the Kerry camp in the last week and have further energized the GOP base, while the distortions of Kerrys record by the Swift Boaty COWARDS(men who have guts whould not resort to distortion of a mans record) has made the socially conservative but economically populist blue collar voters unsure about Kerry. Again, Kerry is lucky this took place in Mid Sept, not mid Oct, so he has time to recover, but again he has to have focus.

  The bright side for Kerry is that despite his mis steps, despite events outside of his control and despite COWRADLY distortions on his past record, he is only a few points behind(and yes, I feel that Gallup is a bit off its rocker).  THe election needs to be based on issues, such as the quagmire in Iraq, the rented economic recovery(though Asian centeral banks buying US bonds non stop and illresponible spending and tax cuts), and job outsourcing.
 

I think it is funny how you keep calling the Swift Boat guys cowards - men who served in Vietnam.  You are probably one of those guys I read about today who beat up that soilder in Columbus this weekend for wearing an "Operation Iraqi Freedom Shirt"

Also - are certian people in the DNC cowards for distorting Bushs record?  I already know your answer to that, but I would like to see it
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« Reply #9 on: September 22, 2004, 02:01:46 am »
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I think it is funny how you keep calling the Swift Boat guys cowards - men who served in Vietnam.  You are probably one of those guys I read about today who beat up that soilder in Columbus this weekend for wearing an "Operation Iraqi Freedom Shirt"

Also - are certian people in the DNC cowards for distorting Bushs record?  I already know your answer to that, but I would like to see it

To be fair, the swift boat chaps did call Kerry all kinds of names other than coward.  Traitor, betrayer, liar, etc.

I think having all the veterans battling it out among each other is a sad day for politics, but whatever.
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freedomburns
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« Reply #10 on: September 22, 2004, 02:18:55 am »
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It's always darkest before the dawn?

Looks to the horizon hopefully...


Wink

We were saying the race was Kerry's to lose, but he seems to have lost it without it really being his fault.  He can't help it if Dan Rather is doddering, senile idiot.  Right?

Kerry is somewhat wooden and Senatorial.  He can't really help that, either.  Twenty years in the Senate will warp you for life.  

I'd almost rather hang out with dubya and have a beer.  He's funny.  He's a partier.  Check out his girls; the leaf doesn't fall too far from the tree ya know.  They know how to have fun too.  

But I also say it is still way to early to count Kerry out.  Gallup is totally whack.  Their sampling method is highly suspect.  

The debates will be upon us soon.  Cheney vs. puppy-boy, too.  Pittbull vs. Chihuahua?  Pray for rain.

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« Reply #11 on: September 22, 2004, 07:32:52 am »
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I really think it would be nice if Kerry would contrast his preferences on the issues with Bush's.

Perhaps he can promote his opposition to the proposal to ban Partial Birth Abortion.

Maybe he can trumphet his opposition to capital punishment?

He really should stop playing games and do a Mondale and admit he supports higher taxes (well, at least Mondale was honorable about this)

He should be honest about his position on Gay Marriage (his current public position differs from the one he took a couple of years ago).

He should also tell us how a Kerry department of education would promote bilingual educatikon over immersion.

He should tell the voters that he supports racial preferencesfor education, employment, etc.

Yes, it would be a very interesting campaign if Kerry would contrast his stand with those of Bush on these issues.

Bush is free to bring up any or all of these topics if he so chooses. So far, he hasn't. I don't see why Kerry has anymore responsibility to talk about these things than Bush.

And on taxes, he does not take Mondale's position. It's not playing games to support a tax increase for the top 2% and cuts for the other 98%.

Bush should just stop "playing games" and admit that he doesn't give a damn about budget deficits. Just do the little smirk and say "Hey, I'll be long gone out of office by the time it really matters anyway; let someone else deal with it."

Nym,

My post which you quoted was in response to the original post on this thread by Gabu asking why Kerry doesn't promote his views on the issues.

I really think it would be a good thing if Kerry would promote his views on the isssues I listed.

However, I think I know why he is NOT promoting those views.  I think you know why too.

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« Reply #12 on: September 22, 2004, 07:40:20 am »
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1. Message.

Kerry does have stances on issues.  Really, he does.  It says so on his website.  Anyone who really wanted to find out could go there and find out.  

Good post, Gabu.  You bring up a decent argument regarding what Kerry is campaigning on.  Yes, you could go to his website to read what his core position is on things, but when you consider a lot of people do not have access to the internet at home, it is the candidates responsibility to "speak" what is written.  This is where Kerry constantly falls on his sword.  He cannot "verbally" stay on his script, making himself become the flip-flopper the GOP has described him as being.  This is why I do not believe the hype that Kerry will win the debates against Bush.  
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"Anybody who doesn't appreciate what America has done and President Bush, let them go to hell." - Betty Dawisha, Iraqi vote
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