Captain's Quarters Blog

« Nader Getting Nuttier | Main | WaPo Tries Rehabilitating Teresa Heinz Kerry »

September 12, 2004
LA Times: Democrats In Disarray

The Los Angeles Times is the latest mainstream news media source to write about the breakdown of direction in the John Kerry campaign. Matea Gold and Mark Barabak report that panic is rising among Democrats in their candidate's inability to stay on message and the split among his senior advisors that has created a strategy of vacillation:

Even as he fights to regain momentum in the presidential race, Sen. John F. Kerry faces a debate among advisors over the tone and content of his message, according to insiders and other Democrats familiar with the campaign's discussions. ...

Advisors to Kerry dismiss suggestions their internal debates have hamstrung the campaign, calling them "routine discussions." They maintain that the "fundamentals" of the White House race remain in their favor, arguing that Bush's lukewarm approval ratings and the nation's slow economic recovery create an environment in which Kerry can quickly gain ground.

The Kerry campaign ignores the upswing in George Bush's approval ratings and the rapid erosion of Kerry's internal numbers in poll after poll, at least publicly. The months of vacillation -- in content, not just tone -- have made an impression on voters of a candidate who doesn't stand for anything, which is why polling on key leadership qualities has plummeted for Kerry.

Gold and Marabak try their best to remain upbeat, continually balancing inside word of the internal control struggles of the campaign with the official "everything's just peachy" missives of the Democrats' public-relations people. But adding in the Clintonistas at this late stage not only reflects a growing discontent with the previous direction of the campaign, but the retention of the old staff has made overall control difficult to determine. Gold and Matea note this concern from their sources:

Some Democrats professed delight at the arrival of the Clinton crew.

"They bring seasoning, they bring great creativity and the experience of rapid response" to GOP attacks, said Art Torres, chairman of the California Democratic Party.

But others expressed concern that yet another set of advisors would further bog Kerry down in internal debates and turf warfare.

"These are talented people he's brought on," said one Democratic strategist, a veteran of presidential campaigns who spoke on condition of anonymity and did not wish to be identified criticizing the candidate. "But unless their jobs are clearly demarcated, that can be a problem."

Democratic insiders say it remains unclear who is ultimately responsible for the campaign's daily message, which is crucial to helping Kerry project a consistent vision.

What no one talks about in this article, or indeed to anyone on the record, is how the flaws in the candidate himself seem to have become those of the campaign. The vacillation and the direction shifts noted in the article don't come from the ether, after all. John Kerry has reinvented himself almost every week since the beginning of the year to try to maximize his political attractiveness.

He started off 2004 excoriating Howard Dean for questioning the need to topple Saddam Hussein, and has since switched his position several times over, trying to keep the Deaniacs on board while he reaches out to centrists who saw Hussein as one of America's greatest threats abroad. He attacked Bush's National Guard service in April, after Democrats like Terry McAuliffe and Sherrod Brown started doing it in February, but then begged Bush to call off the Swiftvets last month. He made his entire convention speech about his four months in Viet Nam while ignoring his twenty years of lackluster service in the Senate.

He voted for the $87 billion, before he voted against it.

Democrats can talk all they want about lack of strategic control, the opposing camps of the Clintonistas vs the Bostonians, and Kerry's message drift into Iraq when they want him to focus on domestic policy. But the true vulnerability is that the Democrats have simply fielded one of their worst candidates in decades, and only the bitter Bush hatred that they take every opportunity to stoke has kept them anywhere close in this race.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 12, 2004 7:25 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry is

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference LA Times: Democrats In Disarray:

» We Provide The Headline You Missed from JustOneMinute
On line readers of the NY Times missed a classic front page headline. The on-line version was this: "Bush and Kerry Step Up Attacks in Swing States". The Dead Tree version offered two sub headlines, so what the reader was [Read More]

Tracked on September 12, 2004 8:25 AM

» Kerry cutting his electoral college losses from The H-Bomb
Interesting article by Dan Balz in today's Washington Post. The Kerry campaign has recognized that some of the states they thought were battlegrounds are not worth their money: The presidential race looks closer in many battleground states than some na... [Read More]

Tracked on September 12, 2004 3:47 PM

Design & Skinning by:
m2 web studios

blog advertising


Proud Ex-Pat Member of the Bear Flag League!