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May 26, 2004
Well, If It's Not Too Much Trouble

John Kerry has deigned to accept the nomination for the Democratic presidential ticket at the nominating convention, apparently deciding that playing games with both his hometown power base and the $15 million in federal funding would be too stupid, even for his campaign:

Bowing to pressure, John Kerry decided Wednesday to accept the nomination at the Democratic presidential convention in July, scuttling a plan to delay the formality so he could narrow President Bush's public money advantage. ... The statement ended four days of controversy over an idea that was supposed to remain a secret for several more weeks.

This ends yet another tone-deaf episode for John Kerry and his campaign staff, who demonstrated that they have no talent for national politics, and possibly even state and local politics are beyond them. Not only is this illustrated by the entire foolish notion of delaying the acceptance of the nomination, but also in the way this idea was fumbled throughout its blessedly short life. The Post reports that the proposal leaked far earlier than anyone anticipated, while Kerry considered its benefits and drawbacks, leaving the campaign completely unprepared to deal with the damage:

Several Kerry advisers had wanted him to forgo the nomination at the Democratic convention in late July and wait five weeks until Bush accepts the Republican nod. That would give both candidates the same time to spend $75 million in public money set aside for the general election. But the plan leaked weeks before Kerry had intended, causing an uproar in his home town of Boston -- site of the July 26-29 convention -- and among Democrats who feared that voters would view the tactic as too political.

Kerry had planned to wait several weeks before deciding what to do, but word of his deliberations leaked last week, forcing his hand.

Rather than respond to the leak with a prompt yes-or-no decision, Kerry stayed true to form and vacillated for several days, refusing to make a decision while Boston stewed and the FEC talked about legal action. Even up to yesterday, Kerry refused to make a decision but engaged in laughable rationalizations for a possible delay, citing Woodrow Wilson (1912) and Harry Truman (1948) as examples:

"Once again, the Republicans don't know history, and they don't know facts," he said. "The truth is that it used to be that the convention, after nomination, traveled to the home or the state of the nominee to inform them they've been nominated. Woodrow Wilson was at his house in Princeton, N.J.; Harry Truman was in Independence," Mo., he said. "They're trying to make an issue out of something that they're surprised by, because . . . they're very upset someone might have a way of neutralizing their advantage."

Of course, now that we've invented television and the internet, having a candidate live a thousand miles from the convention no longer presents a problem like that faced by Woodrow Wilson. Perhaps someone should inform Kerry about the marvelous changes in communication technology we enojy since 1948. On the other hand, someone should also tell the senator from Massachussetts that Boston is where he lives. How is that analogous to Truman's nomination?

Besides, the issue that Kerry needs to overcome by delaying the nomination is entirely self-inflicted. His party pushed for campaign-finance reform, and his party selected their July convention date in order to take advantage of it when they thought they'd be running out of cash at mid-summer. Now that the circumstances have changed, the Kerry campaign can't take responsibility for their own choices and instead flirts with breaking rules in order to nullify rules that they created!

Now we'll get a ration of Kerry acting magnanimous the next few days while reminding us that Bush and the Republicans have an "unfair" advantage, while they try to kick sand over this debacle. Just remember that the Democrats, and the Kerry campaign in particular, handed the Republicans this advantage through their incompetence and their Machiavellian scheming.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 26, 2004 8:24 PM

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