Defending the virtues of liberty, free markets, and civilization... plus some commentary on the passing scene.

Freedom's Fidelity

Monday, August 30, 2004

Politics and Predictions

If I hear about one more politician acting like a politician....

I am going to continue my dislike for politics. At least the partisan superficial kind. I like to talk about ideas big and small, I like to discuss policy, but I hate the politics of politics.

Personally I could care less about what George Bush or John Kerry did in Vietnam, I am infinitely more concerned with what their respective plans might be for the current war. (are you listening boomers?) So why are we still talking about Vietnam? Because John Kerry has inexplicably decided that the centerpiece of his campaign is going to be his four month tour in Vietnam rather than his 20 years in the Senate. If you are going to base your campaign on your Vietnam record, then you better be prepared to have that record scrutinized. If you are going to come back from Vietnam and smear the veterans you served with as a baby killing war criminals while claiming valor and heroic status for yourself it should not come as a surprise when the smear-ees hit back. Politics is a contact sport as anyone with 20 years in the Senate ought to know and this year it looks like it's going to be even worse. John Kerry and President Bush can thank that ridiculous violation of free speech known as the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform that they both supported. Now they are reaping the whirlwind. Boo-hoo.

That said, the Kerry campaign seems not ready for primetime. It seems to me it was a bad mistake for Kerry to ask Bush to put a stop to the Swift Boat Veterans group. First of all, if Bush did put a stop to it, wouldn't that be tacit proof of "coordination" between the two? A clear violation of McCain-Feingold to be sure. So the Bush camp avoided the trap waited until enough attention was on the swift boat vets, then denounced the ads and said he believes that Senator Kerry served honorably and should be proud of his service. All this allows Bush to paint himself as above the fray and Kerry still must deal with the Swift Boat Vets who are now getting even more attention. I must be confused as to who the dumb one of the two is supposed to be.

In the coming months Bush can now fairly (I mean fair in the context of politics - admittedly a loose definition) ask that Kerry denounce the likes of Michael Moore, who's film accused Bush of being complicit in 9/11, or who do their best to convince the populous that Bush and Cheney wake up every morning wondering how they can best ass fuck the world today. Perhaps even the mainstream media will demand that Kerry release his military service records to the public as Bush has done. After all that could probably clear up a bunch of the Swift Boat mess, so why won't he?

Rather than respond to the Swift Boat Vets allegations directly the Kerry campaign has instead chosen to attack them tangentially and ask Bush to silence them. If this is how they are going play it when the election really heats up then, well, he's toast. (Look at this timeline of mistakes from the month of August and cringe if you are a Kerry supporter)

What I am getting at is a prediction. I have gone back and forth on who is going to win this election many times, but right now I am thinking that Bush with about a 55% of the vote is the most likely. Of course in April and May I was 100% sure that Kerry would win a close one, but here's why I've changed my mind again:

It is going to be easy for the Bush campaign to paint Kerry as a liberal, and out of touch with mainstream America. He owns the most liberal voting record in the Senate. Senators traditionally have trouble getting elected president as they are on record for voting for so many things, often times in contradiction, especially over a 20 year career. (who was the last former Senator elected? Kennedy I think, before that, who knows?) The Bush capmaign is going to show that Kerry has consistently voted to reduce defense spending, to cut spending for intelligence, and is generally weak on national defense. He voted against pushing Saddam out of Kuwait in '91, but for going into Iraq in 2002, then voted for the funding of the war before he voted against it of course.

Couple that with the fact that there is hardly any genuine excitement about Kerry. Do you know anyone who was an ardent John Kerry supporter before the Democrats held their primary? It seems that the more voters see of Kerry the less they actually like him, he got a minimal bounce from his convention that has disappeared and after a particularly rough couple of months for the Bush administration it is still an even race, and the Republicans are just starting their convention.

Of course there are the possible wild cards of Iraq taking a major turn for the worse - something I consider highly unlikely, or a terrorist attack on US soil between now and then - something I consider very likely. There is no way to know which way a terrorist attack would tilt the electorate. It really depends on the nature, magnitude and timing and there are endless possibilities with those. But that's a subject for another day.

Stack all that up, most of the undecideds will remember the George Bush after 9/11, standing on the ruins of the World Trade Center talking to rescue workers through a bullhorn. That was when he had a 90% approval rating, he can get some of that back and many will conclude the devil you know is better than the devil you don't. This next week will tell much.


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