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July 12, 2004
Kerry Campaign Keeps Shooting Itself In The Foot

The USA Today, in an analysis of the Kerry/Edwards campaign, concludes that their consistent gaffes have given the Bush campaign plenty of material from which to attack them, underscoring their lack of competency at running national election campaigns. Readers of this blog will hardly be surprised at this analysis, but Jill Lawrence puts a number of recent stumbles into a broader context, as well as reports on some that haven't quite made it into the mainstream yet:

Amid a series of feel-good events that would have made Cecil B. DeMille proud, Kerry said on national TV that he hadn't had time for a national security briefing on a new al-Qaeda threat. He praised celebrities who had made nasty, vulgar remarks about President Bush. His wife offered feminist musings at the North Carolina finale of the new ticket's "mainstream values" tour. And while voters wondered about John Edwards' experience and foreign policy credentials, the Kerrys talked about his good looks.

"He's better-looking in person than in photographs. Look at him, he's blushing," Heinz Kerry told about 25,000 people at a rally Saturday in Raleigh. Kerry delivered his usual line about what they have in common: "He was named by People magazine sexiest politician of the year. And I read People magazine."

Kerry reads People? Maybe both halves of the ticket are intellectual lightweights. Kerry's comments certainly underscore what analysts have said all along about Edwards as the running mate: he was chosen for his pretty face. He certainly wasn't chosen for his political skills; his only resum entry is a single term in the Senate, half of which he missed in order to run for President. He passed on a re-election bid for his Senate seat mostly because he probably couldn't have won a second term anyway. He has an even more anemic legislative record that Kerry's, a difficult feat to accomplish.

Lawrence also discusses the more notorious Radio City fund-raising event that Kerry and Edwards both attended while claiming to be too busy to get a security briefing:

The New York celebrity concert Thursday night was never supposed to be part of the Democrats' meet-the-ticket tour. It had been postponed from June because of Ronald Reagan's death. But the timing and crudeness of the attacks on Bush gave Kerry an opportunity for what's known as a "Sister Souljah moment." ...

After various artists had called Bush a "cheap thug," compared him to a criminal and made off-color jokes about his name, Kerry said, "Every performer tonight, in their own way, either verbally or through their music, through their lyrics, have conveyed to you the heart and soul of our country."

The next day, Kerry's campaign manager, Mary Beth Cahill, said, "He does not approve of some of the remarks that were made last night." But she had no answer when asked why he didn't say so at the time.

Lawrence notes that the Bush campaign wasted no time getting the word out after that fiasco, drawing comparisons between American values and Hollywood "hate-fests," giving the Republicans yet another great fund-raising opportunity. Nor is it just the candidates that are the problem. At that same fund-raiser, Teresa Heinz Kerry complained that women should be called smart and not just opinionated "just like men", and while I agree with her about women being smart, I've never noticed opinionated to be associated with just one gender. (I mean, hell, I'm opinionated -- I use that word frequently in reference to myself.) However, THK sung a different tune later on:

The next, she was saying she and Elizabeth Edwards keep track of dates "because women generally do those things, and the guys just think about big things."

I don't know, but it seems to me that the Kerry/Edwards campaign can't carry its own water. It has the feel of amateur hour there, with one misstep followed by another. Even subtracting all of the personalities from the mix, the air of incompetence that has arisen from their effort hardly inspires confidence in their ability to run the country.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 12, 2004 6:15 AM

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