Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Buyer's Remorse

It's not a clean sweep -- Dean wins Vermont! -- but it's the end of Edwards. And therefore Senator John Kerry will be the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee.

Let the buyer's remorse begin!

Let's start with Kerry the candidate, whose tendency to coast is legendary. He's been coasting since New Hampshire, in case you hadn't noticed. Now that he is the nominee, he'll start coasting with a vengeance, driving his handlers to distraction. Sometime in April, this will become a story, as people start to notice that fund-raising is lagging, organization is behind schedule and the rings of consultants start to panic.

Next, let's visit the issue of Kerry the brand. No one knows anything about him, other than the fact that he served in Vietnam and represents Massachusetts in the US Senate. His economic plan has already been dismissed by The Washington Post as a fiscal joke. His various stances on the War on Terror are impossible to fathom. He has no coherent views on cultural issues. In other words, he's an empty net. Look for the Bush campaign to start working on its slapshot.

Finally, let's visit the issue of Kerry the pol. He's the unhappy warrior. And he has very few friends outside of the "band of brothers." The Bush network was and is vast. The Clinton network was vast. The Reagan network was vast. The Nixon network was vast. The Kerry network is astonishingly slight. When things go bad, as they do, you need friends in politics. As Kaus pointed out in his ode to buyer's remorse, Kerry has the fewest friends of any national politician since Carter.

The glue that holds the Kerry campaign together is negative -- "regime change" as Kerry himself puts it. It is a collection of complaints and resentments. Kerry's contempt for President Bush isn't feigned or strategic. It's complete. That works in Boston and New York and Los Angeles. It works with the megaphone media. Whether or not it will work in Ohio and Florida and Tennessee and West Virginia and Iowa and Michigan and Wisconsin is a long bet in a short market.