Saturday, February 28, 2004

Losing Pretty

William Saletan watched the LAT/CNN Democratic Presidential Debate Thursday night and offered this advice to Senator Edwards afterwards:

I think I speak for many people in the press corps when I say we've been trying harder to get you nominated than you have. Ron Brownstein and Larry King practically begged you tonight to give voters a reason not to choose Kerry. And what was your answer? "He's a good man. ... He'd make a good president." You said your position was the same as Kerry's, even when his position (on amending the Constitution to let foreign-born U.S. citizens become president) was that he hadn't formulated a position. Why don't you save us a lot of time and cut the ad for him, already?

This is the emerging consensus on Senator Edwards; he's weird because he doesn't want to win. Why waste your vote on a weirdo.

Friday, February 27, 2004

Life Is Not Simple

Especially when you're trying to square all of Senator John Kerry's various positions on gay marriage. Debbie Orin, however, cracks the code.

No Shades of Gray

I hate to bring this up, lest anyone think that Ellisblog is questioning Senator Kerry's patriotism, but the National Journal reports that the Brooding And Boring Botox-ed Brahmin has the most liberal voting record in the United States Senate. That's right, he's to the left of Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Patty Murray (D-WA). Which is a fairly long stretch to the left.

The Genome Warrior

Craig Venter is back in the news. Fortune magazine reports on what he's been up to and friends of mine say there's a lot more on the way.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Gail Collins Squares The Circle

Mr. Kerry, one of the Senate's experts in foreign affairs, exudes maturity and depth. He can discuss virtually any issue of security or international affairs with authority. What his critics see as an inability to take strong, clear positions seems to us to reflect his appreciation that life is not simple. He understands the nuances and shades of gray in both foreign and domestic policy.

This from The New York Times editorial endorsing Senator Kerry today. In the immortal words of Hillary Clinton, "okey-dokey, artichokey."

Ellisblog is Shocked

And dismayed by today's Washington Post. Senator John Kerry is raising money from people whom he describes as "Benedict Arnolds" of American business. Note to John Edwards: this is the issue.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

All True

An Edwards backer and long-time reader e-mails:


It's over. It's been over since Kerry won Virginia and Tennessee. I'll be voting for Edwards in my state's primary on Tuesday, but that's more because I'm less than enchanted with Kerry. I do think Edwards is more electable, and would make a better president, but he still reminds me of a minor-league phenom with great potential but a problem hitting a curve ball. He gives a great speech, although I'm tired of hearing it, and conveys the optimism that Americans like in a president. But he is clearly uncomfortable with foreign policy and avoids the subject - not a good sign in a post 9/11 world. He has been running as a 1992 Clinton, with some posturing on trade, but it's not 1992. And he doesn't have Clinton's aggressive instincts. It's too late for him to attack. He would look hypocritical and desperate. The "Sunny John" persona has been a trap of his own making, although it may serve him well in 2008 if Kerry loses. (I highly doubt Kerry will pick Edwards for veep, especially if he's swept on Tuesday. Kerry won't want to hear what a better campaigner Edwards is, and has written off the South anyway.)

-- Craig A.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Up or Out

Real Clear Politics has posted a bunch of Super Tuesday state Democratic presidential primary preference polls. Upshot: Mr. Smiley Face is going to get crushed like a bug if he doesn't get his act together. The Brooding Botox-ed Brahmin leads Senator Edwards in every state poll, including Georgia, by huge margins.

Senator Edwards needs to do three things. He needs to nationalize the race, calling it the decisive vote of the presidential primaries. He needs to participate in 3 or 4 debates next week, regardless of whether Senator Kerry shows up or not. And finally, he needs to make President Bush's criticisms of Senator Kerry his own. With negative campaign commercials. (Ommmmmm!)

As Kaus points out, the potency of the Bush attack angle derives from the fact that it is undeniably true. Playing footsie with Howard Dean isn't going to get anything done. The Edwards campaign needs to go on the attack and stay there. If it starts to work, Dean will come along with it.

Monday, February 23, 2004

Heat Shield

Veteran Kerry watchers have long noted the Massachusetts Senator's rabbit ears. He doesn't like to be criticized. When he is criticized, he puts up what might be called the Vietnam heat shield. Usually this occurs in the late stages of his general election campaigns (see: Kerry vs. Shamie, 1984 and Kerry vs. Weld, 1996).

So it must be a bit disconcerting for Democrats that the Senator has deployed the Vietnam heat shield in February of this election year. Particularly since what provoked the deployment was a Republican Senator's criticism of JFK's voting record. There is, one supposes, a certain pre-emptive logic to Kerry campaign broadsides against the "GOP smear machine." It might, just might, deflect the criticisms incoming. But as a rule, you don't want a candidate who whines when he is attacked. And surely complaining about Senator Chambliss's attack comes under the general category of "whinery."

Veteran Kerry watchers are also resigning themselves to another grim JFK fact. He never says anything even remotely new or interesting. We're not even to March yet and Ellisblog is already bored to tears. Everything is boilerplate.

This is especially important to the scribes, who are trying their best to imagine liking Kerry. They've long thought of him as a room-emptying blowhard. But since he is, after all, the presumptive nominee, they are searching desperately for things to like about him. Just when they think they've got a new Kerry paradigm (he's serious, thoughtful and electable -- he's got gravitas!), the Senator speaks and all their instinctive anti-Kerry feelings come flooding back.

Kerry would be well-advised to go negative on Edwards. It will give the scribes a new story line: Kerry is tough; he does what he needs to do to win.