- The Washington Times - Monday, September 6, 2004

Symptom and disease

“Are John Kerry’s chances of winning the White House imperiled by the fact that there were more frustrated-blind-quote-driven, sausage-making-process-oriented stories from inside his campaign this weekend than there have been cumulatively about the Bush campaign this entire cycle?” asks the Note, ABC’s daily political briefing (https://abcnews.go.com/sections/politics/TheNote/TheNote.html).

“Think of that stark fact as more a symptom than a disease — although it is both,” the Note said.

“It has caused no amount of ‘how-could-that-be?’ head shaking within the tight-knit circle that runs the president’s re-election campaign that the details of Saturday’s Bill Clinton-John Kerry tutorial phone call could leak so fast and so fully.

“And as the Bush campaign just laughs and laughs and laughs behind their poker faces at how easily they have banished the economy, health care, poverty, jobs, and the chaos in Iraq from the national debate, the biggest danger for Kerry right now in the wake of the president’s Swift post-New York lead is that the left will give up on him.”

Dismay and panic’

“The Labor Day Bush trend (which could, by the nature of swing voting, be reversible) has Democratic politicians between dismay and panic,” New York Times columnist William Safire writes.

“As usual, they are crying foul at a veterans group’s answer to [Sen. John] Kerry’s blunder of running on his Vietnam War and anti-war record. As insiders shake up the staff, outsiders pre-emptively lay the basis for post-election excuses, positioning themselves for embittered told-you-so’s,” Mr. Safire says.

“Longtime Democratic pollsters have been calling journalists to note that the sophisticated ‘internals’ of the current polling were even more gloomy for the Kerry campaign, showing a two-to-one advantage for the president on the paramount issue of the war.”

“The gibes from his own side caused Kerry to overreact. Instead of moving away from the Vietnam issue, which has been a real toothache for his campaign, he bit down on it. Uncharacteristically, he took the low road, overtly contrasting his war duty with Dick Cheney‘sdraft deferments.

“That flailing-out was done more in anger than in calculation. Millions of Americans of draft age in the 1960s who are voters today were deferred from service by virtue of student status or fatherhood. They do not appreciate having their deferment attributed to lack of patriotism. Now Kerry has unnecessarily upset a lot of non-veteran swing voters.”

Flawed theory

“The presidential race consists of two campaigns,” Fred Barnes writes in the Weekly Standard.

“One concerns who would be the better commander in chief in the war on terrorism. President Bush, bolstered by speech after speech at the Republican convention (including his own), is handily winning that race,” Mr. Barnes said.

“The other, the campaign John Kerry prefers, is about jobs and health care and education. With the stronger job numbers for August released the day after the convention, Bush is holding his own in that campaign too. So there’s no escaping the fact: The race really is Bush’s to win, perhaps comfortably.

“Kerry won’t have an easy time making up ground he lost since the Democratic convention in late July. It’s clear now his theory of the campaign was wrong. A majority of Americans haven’t basically decided against giving Bush a second term. Thus it’s not enough for Kerry to demonstrate simply that he’s competent to be president. The bar isn’t that low. Kerry will have to be far more appealing than he’s ever been to scoot past Bush. Or the president will have to screw up badly. Both are possible, especially the latter.”

Spooked markets

“It’s hard to remember the last time Wall Street was as repelled by a presidential candidate as it is by John Kerry,” writes Stephen Moore in National Review.

“Many stock analysts are convinced that the mere threat of a Kerry presidency has caused equity values to slump in the past two months,” said Mr. Moore, president of the Club for Growth and a senior fellow at the Cato Institute.

“‘No one wants to make major investments in the wake of a presidential candidate whose economic agenda would substantially raise taxes on investment and thus substantially raise the cost of capital in America,’ says investment specialist Robert Grusky of New Mountain Capital.

“What Grusky is referring to here is the Kerry-Edwards risk factor. Efficient markets trade ahead of anticipated policy developments. A new analysis by Eric Engen, an economist at the American Enterprise Institute, finds that over the past several months there has been an inverse relationship between Kerry’s poll numbers and the direction of the S&P; 500. ‘The evidence suggests that when Sen. Kerry’s political fortunes rise, the stock market tanks.’

“What do investors find so repugnant about Kerry-Edwards? In the past, the stock market has not performed, on average, much differently in Democratic and Republican administrations. What seems to have the markets especially spooked about this Democratic ticket is that it has embraced what I call the three terrible T’s: tariffs, taxes and trial lawyers,” Mr. Moore said.

Whimpers, whines

Bush-bashing filmmaker Michael Moore tried to buck up Democrats on Friday in his last Republican National Convention column for USA Today.

“If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a hundred times from discouraged Democrats and liberals as the Republican convention [in Manhattan] wrapped up this week. Their shoulders hunched, their eyes at a droop, they lower their voice to a whisper hoping that if they don’t say it too loud it may not come true: ‘I … I … I thinkBushis going to win,’” Mr. Moore wrote.

“Clearly, they’re watching too much TV. Too much of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Zell Miller, Dick Cheney and Rudy Giuliani. Too much of swift boat veterans and Fox News commentators,” said Mr. Moore, whose commentary came before a series of polls showing that Mr. Bush got a considerable bounce from the convention.

Mr. Moore added, “I can’t believe all of this whimpering and whining.”

Veterans rally

As if Sen. John Kerry doesn’t have enough trouble fending off Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, another group of Vietnam veterans plans to rally against the Democratic presidential nominee.

Vietnam Vets for the Truth (www.KerryLied.com) “represents men and women who served honorably during that war and feel terribly maligned” by Mr. Kerry’s “longstanding claims of widespread atrocities and war crime” by U.S. troops in Vietnam, the group said.

The group, led by retired Navy Capt. Larry Bailey, former head of the Navy’s SEAL school, plans a press conference at 9:30 a.m. today at the National Press Club.

Among other events and election-season plans, the group will announce a “Kerry Lied” rally set for 2 p.m. Sunday at Capitol Plaza Park, between the U.S. Capitol and Union Station. The rally will feature “prominent Vietnam veterans,” the group said.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected]m.

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