After maintaining that he had met with several foreign leaders who told him that they want him elected, John Kerry’s campaign suddenly has shifted positions on overseas endoresements:
An adviser to US presidential challenger John Kerryhas criticised Australian Prime Minister John Howard over “inappropriate” public comments wishing for President George W. Bush to be reelected.
Australians had complained when Bush and his aides publicly commented on Australian politics and had told Bush to steer clear of US politics, adviser Kurt Campbell told The Sydney Morning Herald.
“I would remind Australians that the same applies at home. Such comments about our politics are a little inappropriate,” he said, reacting to Howard’s comment last month about Bush, saying: “I hope he wins.”
It’s a far cry from Kerry’s strategy in March, when he told everyone that foreign leaders had told him how important it was for him to win the election. He had no problem with heads of state weighing in on our election, as long as they endorsed … John Kerry. Let’s not forget that Kerry’s sister Diana made quite a splash in the run-up to the Australian elections, ostensibly to campaign among American ex-patriates but also criticizing Howard’s policy of alliance with George Bush.
Besides, Kerry can hardly complain about John Howard publicly indicating a preference for George Bush when the other choice publicly called him “bribed” and “coerced”. This is the result of John Kerry’s vaunted diplomacy; first the Polish president scolds Kerry for slandering his country’s alliance with the US, and now the Australian PM gets his own payback, post-election. Instead of broadening our alliances, John Kerry has only demonstrated a talent for pissing off our friends.
I first saw the report on Drudge that the Democrats took a poll to see how the Osama bin Laden tape played with the American electorate immediately after it aired. I thought at the time, “I’m not going to link to this … even the Democrats aren’t that foolish.” Apparently I must stand corrected, as the Kerry campaign admitted their party conducted the poll, only after Dick Cheney slammed Kerry for not knowing what to do without sticking his finger in the air:
“The thing that I find amazing about it is that John Kerry’s first response was to go conduct a poll,” Cheney told supporters in Fort Dodge, Iowa. “He went into the field … to find out what he should say about this tape of Osama bin Laden.”
“It’s as though he doesn’t know what he believes until he has to go and check the polls, his finger in the air, to see which way the wind is blowing and then he’ll make a decision,” said the vice president, who offered no evidence to back up his claim. “George Bush doesn’t need a poll to know what he believes, especially about Osama bin Laden.”
“I don’t think that’s a man who is up to the task of being commander in chief,” Cheney said of Kerry.
Joe Lockhart, the Clintonista serving as spokesman for the Kerry campaign, shot back that the GOP did the same thing, a charge which Matthew Down strongly denied. Lockhart then tried to pass it off as a poll taken by a group unaffiliated with the Kerry campaign, but the AP reports that the conference call announcing the poll results to the press included a number of Kerry staffers. That demonstrates a high level of coordination with the campaign, and at the least, the poll results were available for Kerry’s use very quickly.
So I was wrong. The Democrats really are that stupid. Didn’t any of the grown-ups at the DNC or the Kerry campaign realize that a dozen or more media-based pollsters would do that work for them? Perhaps there may not be any grown-ups at the DNC or Kerry campaign.
Alert CQ reader Gracias Deo noticed that NBC has edited the transcript of the interview Tom Brokaw did with John Kerry three days ago. As I reported then, Brokaw’s questioning of Kerry about his IQ caused the Senator to bristle (emphasis mine):
Brokaw: Someone has analyzed the President’s military aptitude tests and yours, and concluded that he has a higher IQ than you do.
Kerry: That’s great. More power. I don’t know how they’ve done it, because my record is not public. So I don’t know where you’re getting that from.
However, in the transcript for the interview based on tonight’s Dateline segment for the interview, the answer has been edited to remove Kerry’s admission:
Brokaw: “Someone has analyzed the president’s military aptitude tests and yours, and concluded that he has a higher IQ than you do.”
Kerry: “That’s great. More power. I don’t know how they’ve done it.”
What happened to the rest of the answer? NBC must have decided to cut it off, but its excision appears to make NBC look complicit in an attempt to cover up an embarrassing admission — that despite months of assertions to the contrary, John Kerry knows full well that he has not released his full service records. Unfortunately for NBC, they haven’t realized yet that the original transcript still exists on their servers.
NBC needs to explain to their viewers why they felt the need to edit John Kerry’s response, and who made the decision to do so. In an electoral cycle that has seen the mainstream media burn its credibility time and again, it looks like NBC is the next in line to self-immolate.
The latest CBS poll mirrors that of the Pew result mentioned below — George Bush is maintaining a three-point lead over John Kerry as the presidential race winds up:
In a CBS News/New York Times poll out Sunday, President Bush has the support of 49 percent of likely voters to 46 percent for John Kerry.
Forty-nine percent of likely voters think Mr. Bush will win, to 33 percent who bet on Kerry. More voters see the president as strong, a man in tune with their priorities, someone who says what he thinks. Fifty-five percent approve of the president’s handling of the war on terrorism.
The new result shows a two-point gain for Bush and a one-point gain for Kerry as the undecideds finally start making up their minds. CBS notes that the percentage of undecided has dropped below 10% now. For those who have already decided — and voted — CBS finds an opposite result from Pew: Bush leads, 51-43, among early voters.
CBS notes that the last day of polling was yesterday, the day after the new Osama tape aired. After reviewing the answers given, the pollsters report that Osama’s video missive had no effect on the amount of concern given to national security. Voters have already incorporated OBL into their electoral calculations, it seems, or they’re determined not to let the Islamofascist lunatic decide their vote for them. It’s one of the few points in this campaign that makes me proud to be an American.
Matthew Dowd, the man in charge of GOP polling, told CBS that their polling mirrors that of CBS and that they feel Bush will wind up with that margin on Election Day. Chief Kerry pollster Mark Mellman insists that with Bush still below 50%, he’s in real trouble. However, in order for that to matter, the remaining undecideds would have to break almost 2-1 for Kerry in order to make up the three-point gap, which seems rather unlikely.
I will be reviewing my archives on John Kerry and reposting my favorite essays on the upcoming election. Instead of simply advancing the date, I will repost them as new in order to restart discussions on these topics.
Keep checking back over the next few days. The headers on the reprints will say “CQ Flashback” as part of the title. I will, of course, continue to post new thoughts on developments as they arise.
Note: Some links may no longer be valid. I’m copying these posts in their entirety from my blogging software and am not checking their validity.
Also, this is a great way to blog while handling Halloween door duty!
UPDATE AND BUMP: Speaking of Halloween door duty, the Little Admiral made a cameo appearance aboard ship tonight!
Her Aunt Cindy bought her this cute outfit for her birthday earlier this year, and I managed to get a quick photo of her while she bounded through our living room. She had already sampled some of the Halloween candy before she arrived, I presume …
It’s down to the final polling reports before Election Day. Yesterday, Mason-Dixon published its final battleground-state results showing Bush ahead in most, some by significant margins. Zogby came out early this morning, trumpeted by the ever-vigilant Truck in one of the comment threads, showing the exact opposite — but Zogby has earned its reputation as one of the least reliable pollsters in the business.
Now Pew Research, which enjoys a somewhat better reputation than Zogby, has issued its presumably last look at the election, and finds George Bush holding onto a three-point lead over John Kerry among likely voters in its largest polling sample of the season:
President George W. Bush holds a slight edge over Senator John Kerry in the final days of Campaign 2004. The Pew Research Center’s final pre-election poll of 1,925 likely voters, conducted Oct. 27-30, finds Bush with a three-point edge (48% to 45% for Kerry); Ralph Nader draws 1%, and 6% are undecided.
Bush gained a point since the last Pew poll, while Kerry dropped two points and now sits at 45%. Pew also estimates that Kerry may attract slightly more than half of the undecideds, but when the turnout rate is considered, Pew projects that Bush will take 51% of the popular vote — maintaining the three-point margin of victory. (Nader wins a single percentage point.)
Reviewing the demographics, Pew found that men still heavily favor Bush (52-43), but Kerry lost the significant edge that Gore held among women (48-44 Kerry). Pew shows black voters only giving Bush 7% support, which would be even worse than in 2000, while 86% support Kerry and 7% are undecided. That’s disappointing, of course, but the Hispanic vote appears almost evenly split, 49-47 Kerry, which helps Bush tremendously.
The age and religion categories show some of the most interesting results. Kerry only wins among voters in age ranges of 18-24 and over 75. In every other age band, Bush wins, and he wins decisively among voters age 25-34, 58-39. Kerry narrowly edges Bush among Catholics, 49-46, while Bush predictably blows Kerry out of the water among evangelicals by twenty points. Kerry owns the “secular” vote by forty-three points, 67-24. For those who attend church once a month or more, Bush wins big, regardless of denomination.
As has been mentioned before, the real difference appears to be the marriage gap:
The poll was conducted between October 27-30, which means the Osama videotape had been seen before a portion of the voters had been questioned. It looks as if it made little difference, as I predicted earlier.
The proverb, “Too many cooks spoil the broth” comes to mind while reading the Washington Post article on the Kerry campaign’s policy structure. While intending on casting a broad net to display inclusiveness, the nominee instead teeters on the edge of an unmanageable mess:
From a tightknit group of experienced advisers, John F. Kerry’s presidential campaign has grown exponentially in recent months to include a cast literally of thousands, making it difficult to manage an increasingly unwieldy policy apparatus.
The campaign now includes 37 separate domestic policy councils and 27 foreign policy groups, each with scores of members. The justice policy task force alone includes 195 members. The environmental group is roughly the same size, as is the agriculture and rural development council. Kerry counts more than 200 economists as his advisers.
In contrast, President Bush’s campaign policy shop is a no-frills affair. Policy director Tim Adams directs about a dozen experts who make sure the campaign is in sync with the vast executive branch that is formulating policy. Adams’s group also analyzes Kerry’s proposals and voting record. Fewer than a dozen outside task forces, with five to 10 members, also help out on education, veterans’ issues, the economy, and energy, environment and natural resources, said campaign spokesman Scott Stanzel.
Perhaps it is this structure more than any other external factor which accounts for the notorious Kerry “nuance” displayed time and again during this campaign. When you have thousands of voices, each with their own pet causes and projects, coming together to develop coherent policies, you will wind up with either no product at all or long-winded and self-contradictory policies that look more like legal papers instead. Early on in our history, we were wise enough to limit the House of Representatives to 435 members for this very reason. Any body much larger than that increases policy inertia to a point where it is too difficult to overcome.
While the entire article is interesting, it fails to ask one key question: why does John Kerry, after having spent over 30 years in public office — the last twenty at the federal level — need thousands of people to decide what he thinks? One of the selling points of his campaign is supposed to be his long experience in government and foreign policy. Shouldn’t that mean that Kerry has his core principles already staked out, and if so, shouldn’t a smaller group of people be able to use them to build policy papers?
This overgrown and unwieldy organization not only looks like a throwback to Great Society-level bureaucratism but also demonstrates that Kerry has few core principles on which to build his policy. We already know that John Edwards is pretty much an empty suit from his legislative track record during his only term in office, but Kerry was supposed to be ready to take the reins right now. Candidates choose staff carefully to ensure that they match up with their already-expressed beliefs and principles, making large numbers of people for policy development unnecessary.
If Kerry needs a cast of thousands to make up his mind what he thinks at this late stage in his career, why should anyone vote for him?
UPDATE: Hugh Hewitt has some good thoughts on this article (and you should buy his book, If It’s Not Close, They Can’t Cheat), and also points to another Post article that dovetails with the above:
Democratic Party leaders said yesterday they plan to make their nominating convention in Boston later this month a four-day reintroduction of Sen. John F. Kerry, enlisting his wife, children and former war comrades in Vietnam to make the case for a man they acknowledge remains an opaque figure for millions of Americans.
“Stronger at Home, Respected in the World,” is the theme of the Boston event, said Democratic National Committee Chairman Terence R. McAuliffe. The phrase is designed to underscore the centrist and forward-looking image Kerry wants to present to voters — an implicit attack on President Bush and a rebuttal to Bush’s argument that Kerry would be a weak and irresolute commander in chief.
Not that there’s anything weak or irresolute about needing a few thousand sign-offs on your policy statements.
The desperation has broken through, loud and clear, from the John Kerry campaign this weekend, underscoring what appears to be a series of favorable battleground-state results for George Bush. First John Kerry scolded America on Friday to “wake up”. Now his stepson has decided to accuse Bush of illegal drug use in the final hours of the campaign (via Radio Blogger):
John Kerry’s stepson, Chris Heinz, 31, displayed his mother Teresa’s famous lack of rhetorical restraint at a recent campaign event with a group of Wharton students. Philadelphia magazine reports: “Heinz accused Kerry’s opponents – ‘our enemies’ – of making the race dirty. ‘We didn’t start out with negative ads calling George Bush a cokehead,’ he said, before adding, ‘I’ll do it now.’ Asked later about it, Heinz said, ‘I have no evidence. He never sold me anything.'”
In a moment that may portend a Kerry Administration attitude towards Israel and certainly reveals the campaign’s dismissal of its Jewish support, Heinz told the crowd that Bush considered Israel as the “51st state”:
Heinz also reminded writer Sasha Issenberg of Pat Buchanan by saying, “One of the things I’ve noticed is the Israel lobby – the treatment of Israel as the 51st state, sort of a swing state.” Buchanan was blasted as an anti-Semite years ago when he cited Israel’s “amen corner” in Congress.
The first quotes reveal nothing except a lack of character on the part of the shallow heir to the ketchup fortune, and by extension that of the entire Kerry campaign. (He officially represented his stepfather’s campaign at his Wharton appearance, after all.) The second issue portends more substantive problems with Kerry and his viewpoint on America’s strongest Middle East ally. Does the Kerry campaign believe in that alliance, or do they intend on distancing themselves from Israel once in power? How do they think that Israel resembles a “swing state” for anyone?
It sounds like Heinz wanted to send a signal to the anti-Semite conspiracy theorists, and Jewish voters need to ask themselves why Democrats feel the need to pander to that demographic. Ralph Nader couldn’t have said it any better, although he’s often tried. When candidates and their proxies attempt to scare voters through oblique references to Jewish conspiracies, it never amounts to anything but evil results.
UPDATE: Welcome, Instapundit readers! Perhaps Glenn is right — that may not be all that oblique. At least he didn’t come right out and call them all “yahoods”, which would have been a complete giveaway.
Wretchard at the Belmont Club posted a provocative analysis of the Osama bin Laden tape yesterday, linked today at Power Line, which considers the measured tone and reasonableness of OBL a signal to the US of surrender:
It is important to notice what he has stopped saying in this speech. He has stopped talking about the restoration of the Global Caliphate. There is no more mention of the return of Andalusia. There is no more anticipation that Islam will sweep the world. He is no longer boasting that Americans run at the slightest wounds; that they are more cowardly than the Russians. He is not talking about future operations to swathe the world in fire but dwelling on past glories. He is basically saying if you leave us alone we will leave you alone. Though it is couched in his customary orbicular phraseology he is basically asking for time out.
That’s an attractive analysis, as is Wretchard’s response, in which he adheres to the Unconditional Surrender camp. However, I don’t buy that Osama wants to send an “I’m OK, You’re OK” offer to the Americans. Wretchard makes a great point in that the portion of the tape played by Al-Jazeera; OBL passed on the fiery rhetoric and the usual insults to take a more moderate tone. Where Wretchard and I disagree is OBL’s motivation for doing so.
Far from signaling a surrender, I believe that OBL wants to influence the American elections as another demonstration of his power. He wants to depose George Bush, but he’s smart enough to understand that a fire-breathing performance only helps Bush by scaring/insulting the voters. His moderate performance was designed to appeal to the reasonable leftists and centrists who tend to believe that America brought Islamist terror onto itself. His “offer” amounts to a lever with which to promote anti-Israel sentiment to undercut support for Bush, as well as give people the impression that the war is Bush’s fault, despite the years of Al Qaeda attacks on American assets.
Don’t allow yourselves to be fooled into thinking that Osama has retreated in his desire to reconquer Andalusia and spread the ummah across the globe, reducing the infidels to dhimmitude. He just knows when to temper his rhetoric for the best possible political result.
Betsy’s Page directs readers to the latest David Brooks column in today’s New York Times, where Brooks takes John Kerry to task for playing politics with the new Osama bin Laden videotaped message. Brooks reaches the same conclusion that I did last night after reading Kerry’s response during a radio interview a few hours after the OBL tape aired on Al-Jazeera and American news outlets:
Kerry did say that we are all united in the fight against bin Laden, but he just couldn’t help himself. His first instinct was to get political.
On Milwaukee television, he used the video as an occasion to attack the president: “He didn’t choose to use American forces to hunt down Osama bin Laden. He outsourced the job.” Kerry continued with a little riff from his stump speech, “I am absolutely confident I have the ability to make America safer.”
Even in this shocking moment, this echo of Sept. 11, Kerry saw his political opportunities and he took ’em. There’s such a thing as being so nakedly ambitious that you offend the people you hope to impress.
What has emerged about Kerry during this campaign cycle is that he is extraordinarily incautious about what he says. People used to critique Ronald Reagan for requiring round-the-clock “handling”, but Reagan in fact was an accomplished extemporaneous speaker who rarely needed corralling to keep him on message. Kerry not only needs handlers, but the ones he currently employs appear to be less than competent at their job. His frequent rhetorical stumbles on the stump have handed Republicans a treasure trove of campaign material this election cycle, and his statement last night should keep his campaign somewhat on the defensive in the final 96 hours.
Brooks notes, and I agree, that these stumbles are not the harmless spoonerisms that simply cause a chuckle. They reveal the real John Kerry, the man behind the antiwar war hero facade that Kerry carefully built for this campaign. They reveal Kerry to be a man who blames others for his mistakes (remember the Secret Service “son of a bitch” who tripped him on the ski slopes?), a narcissist who cannot resist exaggerating his exploits to impress others (meeting with the “entire UN Security Council for hours”) and to score political points (Christmas in Cambodia being “seared — seared” into his memory to argue for abandoning the Nicaraguan contras), and a conspiracy theorist bordering on the paranoid (“most lying, corrupt group of people”).
Given this, it’s no wonder that Kerry the political opportunist weighed in last night to push his wild notions that the military allowed OBL to escape Tora Bora in some sort of Islamist version of Dunkirk. It’s especially egregious since, as Brooks points out, Kerry publicly supported the use of Afghanis at Tora Bora as the effective way to handle the conflict there and encouraged the admnistration to continue that strategy at the time of the operation.
Kerry has been one of the most incompetent major-party candidates in decades, perhaps ever. People point to George McGovern, Walter Mondale, and Kerry’s former boss Michael Dukakis as similar or potentially worse candidates, but all three of those men stood for their beliefs and values. Kerry stands for himself and nothing else. The only thing keeping Kerry afloat is the high tide of Bush hatred among the Left and an increasingly desperate mainstream media that will do almost anything, including sacrificing their credibility, to keep Bush from being re-elected. Hopefully, that will not be enough.