John Kerry isn’t the first Presidential candidate to think that in order to win he must run a safe, prudent and cautious campaign. I’m no expert in the art of Presidential politics, but I don’t see how it’s going to work in this election. I’m not telling him to let fly like Howard Dean and scream his political heart out. But running by not standing out just won’t work this time around.
So tell me in what substantive ways Kerry’s positions diverge from Bush, regarding Iraq especially? Perhaps Kerry is betting that Iraq will fade from view come November and he doesn’t need to stake out a distinctive position. But I believe he could really make hay by taking it to Bush on his failed Iraq policy. I don’t see how being a gentleman is going to work as a long-term viable campaign strategy.
Apparently, other Democrats agree with me because Adam Nagourney wrote Democrats Wonder if Kerry Should Stay on Careful Path in today’s Times:
President Bush’s political difficulties have prompted a debate among Democrats and aides to Senator John Kerry over how cautious his campaign should be on a variety of issues, from choosing a vice president to differentiating himself from Mr. Bush to responding to the turmoil in Iraq.
Democrats warn that such a strategy [taking few chances] entails risks of its own, banking on the proposition that Americans would be willing to fire an incumbent during war time and replace him with someone they know little about. “I don’t think anybody in their right mind is going to run for president on a strategy of `people hate the other guy and that’s enough for our guy to win,’ ” said Douglas Sosnik, the White House political director for President Bill Clinton.
Mr. Kerry said in an interview that he could not win the presidency by relying on the continuing misfortunes at the White House.
Sure, I agree. But if he doesn’t take it to the President and distinguish himself clearly from him, then why should anyone vote for Kerry?
Much of Mr. Kerry’s recent behavior has been that of a candidate who is inclined, at least for now, to take the easier road. They’ve basically made the strategic decision not to attack,” said one foreign policy expert advising the Kerry campaign. “Their polls have told them that they should let events take their course, let Bush wallow in their own problems, and that Kerry would suffer from going on the attack.”
I think Kerry’s got to remember what Dean did to him in the primaries. Dean stood for something and people responded. Only when Dean pushed Kerry’s back to the wall and threatened his political demise did Kerry get off his duff and start sounding like a man who had the vision and energy necessary to win a general election.
Right now, Kerry sounds like pre-Dean and I don’t like what I’m hearing–or not hearing, as the case may be.