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September 30, 2004
Tina Brown Gets Impatient For "The Closer" To Show Up

Former magazine publisher Tina Brown writes in her Washington Post column today that Democrats have tired of hearing what a great closer John Kerry is, and wants the closing to start now rather than later:

With all the mythology about Kerry's gift of coming from behind, New Yorkers are watching and hoping like fundamentalists awaiting the rapture. "What will it be like?" they ask one another. A mysterious subtle transformation of will that suffuses Kerry with winner's luck? A defining moment when he soothes his wounded honor with a shaft of killing wit that at last unmasks Bush? If so, could it please happen in prime time tonight? (Maybe, just in case, Kerry should wear cowboy boots to reduce the president still further to the size of Dr. Ruth.)

Among the big-donor crowd, the good-closer cliche has worn out its welcome. They have had it with reading in the New York Times that the past two months of flubs were part of some weird subliminal strategy. Who does Kerry think he is? Bob Dylan? Enough already with the near-death experiences. Mr. Closer, give us closure.

I've thought about this reputation Kerry has garnered as some fourth-quarter genius who outlasts his opponents and scores a last-minute victory, but I'm not buying it, and it looks like Brown isn't either. He's won four terms in the Senate and a term as lieutenant governor in highly liberal Massachusetts as Ted Kennedy's protege. Really, how difficult is that to do? The wonder is that he had to come from behind at all, even against William Weld. He survived the primary not so much because he won it but because Howard Dean pulled a Dan Quayle against Al Sharpton in a debate, imploded shortly thereafter, and the Democrats wanted someone with proven electability. The only options left at that point were Dick Gephardt and John Edwards, neither of which could have guaranteed to cary their home states.

So far, I see no evidence that Kerry will be anything more as a candidate in the final month than he has been up to now -- an incompetent, outclassed vacillator who has squandered advantages in the polls and among the mainstream media to fall behind a vulnerable George Bush. Brown, however, see it differently. She claims that Kerry's come-from-behind act is doomed because of a conservative media bias:

Part of the weird mood of frustration and self-directed anger is that it's already clear that whatever brilliance Kerry pulls out of the hat, the post-debate spin from the Bush campaign and the cable news hunger for the political version of the Janet Jackson moment fuse perfectly with the likelihood of some emblematic sound bite or visual moment that purportedly buries Kerry.

Oh, sure, we all remember the dogpile at the White House earlier this year (and ever since) when the hounds were baying at Scott McClelland about George Bush's National Guard service as a demonstration of the media's conservative bias. Or how about that CBS story based on forgeries? That sure had a healthy dose of "White House spin". Meanwhile, Brown's associates still haven't asked Kerry about his false assertions with David Alston that stole Tedd Peck's service record, nor have they asked him about meeting with the Communists in Paris while still having a commission in the Navy.

Brown then gives a further demonstration of her cluelessness, in her hope for a Bush stumble:

On Bill O'Reilly's show Tuesday the president showed encouraging signs. At one point he suddenly addressed the host as "Factor." ("Did he call me Factor?" O'Reilly marveled to the camera with a quizzical smile.)

Perhaps if Brown had been awake the past four years, she would have known that Bush likes to pick out nicknames for people, a habit he's had since Yale. (Really, Tina -- it's been in all the papers, even yours.)

It's on slender reeds like this that Brown's hope grasps, desperately looking for a debate debacle from George Bush -- because she already knows that John Kerry can't deliver a home run. For that to happen, Kerry would have to be decisive and take a clear position on Iraq, something he's been unable to do over nine months now. If he could, his campaign wouldn't have to be promoting his purported abilities as a "closer".

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 30, 2004 5:27 AM

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