Thursday, January 06, 2005

JFK 2008

Here is the link to the recent Newsweek article on Kerry:

The key quotes:

He never quite came out and said it, but Kerry sounded very much like a man who was running for president again. He has a mailing list with 2.9 million names and an organization in every state. His moneymen have not backed away....Some of Kerry's followers are already plotting how Kerry can defeat Hillary Clinton in the Iowa caucuses in 2008. The conventional wisdom, already congealing before Bush's second Inaugural, pictures Kerry and Clinton as the early Democratic front runners.

Exactly. JFK may lack other things, but not ambition: he wants to be president very badly, and he is determined to get it.

As for Kerry, says this adviser, "he thinks he's the front runner for '08 without recognizing that he needs to do some soul-searching. If he wants to come back, he'll have to come back as a different candidate, not the stiff who plays it safe and takes four sides of every issue."

So according to Kerry's own aides, the candidate is a flip-flopper who takes "four sides of every issue". Or perhaps the aide is condemning an excess of nuance?--regardless, it's a problem. And the aide also sees what some others see: JFK thinks he's the front runner, and is already focussed on 2008.

Kerry has tried to comfort and defend his wife, Teresa, who suffers from migraines and has taken personally widespread criticism (much of it by campaign staffers) of her role in the campaign.

JFK has a serious problem: a wife who loves the limelight and the attention of a campaign, but who hurts the campaign because she is seriously gaffe-prone--a problem apparently recognized by the JFK campaign team itself.

Jose Ferreira, Kerry's nephew, told his uncle, "Some people are saying that your candidacy was driven by ABB [Anything But Bush]." Kerry replied: "Do you think so?"

Ouch. Of course it's true. The whole strategy of KE 2004 was to avoid risk, make the election a referendum on the incumbent, and trust the American people to reject Bush. It failed because Bush had a popularity rating of about 53% among voters--not great, but enough to win re-election. That Kerry, in the aftermath of the death, can't see that that is the campaign he ran is remarkable. If Kerry lacks the political insight to understand his own campaign, it's difficult to see how he will understand that part of the country that lives outside of Massachusetts.

In sum: this is a candidate who lacks emotional intelligence--see my post earlier on Kerry, Aristotle, and emotional intelligence.


At Friday, 07 January, 2005, Blogger Grumsalot said...

Alright man, I'm not trying to tick you off. But one part of this especially tickles my nose. Among other aggravating remarks, the article, and your evaluation, claims that "Or perhaps the aide is condemning an excess of nuance?--regardless, it's a problem. And the aide also sees what some others see: JFK thinks he's the front runner, and is already focussed on 2008." How do you know this? How does anyone know this? Kerry has been in hiding since the campaign. He has not made any big speeches, press-conferences, or done any interviews. It's pure speculation as to what he is doing.

At Saturday, 08 January, 2005, Blogger GrenfellHunt said...

Hey, don't worry: you'll have to be more ornery than that to tick me off!

Since politicians often don't publicly state their goals and intentions, a large part of politics is getting a good read on where people are going and what they're doing--even when they don't acknowledge things publicly.

Hillary has not declared that she is running for president in 2008--but I think almost every thinks those are her plans, even though for now she prefers not to announce them publicly.

I'm arguing here that there is every reason to make a similar assessment of Kerry. I base that on:

1. His burning ambition for the office. It's quite impressive and there are only a small number of public figures I've seen that have been so determined to become president and from such an early age. He wants the office badly, he thinks he came close in 2004, and he sees no reason not to try again (with perhaps Richard Nixon as an example of how it can be done?). A good historical parallel would be William Jennings Bryan 1896/1900.
2. His handling of his campaign finances. The decision to not spend a large part of his campaign contributions from 2004 is very suspicious: the most likely explanation for his $15 million or so of leftover campaign funds is that he realized he had a good chance of losing, and wanted to be in strong position to run again in 2008 when there wouldn't be an incumbent.
3. His post-election behaviour--his video taped e-mail to all his supporters had (to me) all the earmarks of a man laying a foundation for a run in 2008.

I find the Newsweek article interesting because it suggests that my personal assessment--based largely on news reports--is supported by those who know him best and have worked with him most closely. That assessment might be wrong--and unforeseeable events might change Kerry's mind, even if the assessment right now is correct. I've never met Senator Kerry personally, and personal knowledge is always different from knowledge of someone through newsreports and television appearance. I take support for my previously expressed view--that Kerry is seeking to run again in 2008--from the assessment of those who know him personally, both the unnamed aide and the Newseek interview, that this is in fact what he's up to.

Can he beat Hillary in 2008? Tough, but he's got a shot. There are significant numbers of Dems who think that Hillary is too moderate (cf. especially her position on the war), and Kerry might be able to beat her by running at her from the left. I'd be interested to hear what his staffers were thinking about beating Hillary in Iowa in 2008. I'm not sure how he could paint Hillary as too liberal, and I'm not sure that would be an effective approach in the Democratic primaries--but I suppose it's possible that he would try that.

At Sunday, 09 January, 2005, Blogger Grumsalot said...

I agree that he will most likely run again. I think that he behaved as if he was conserving energy for another campaign. What "tickl[ed] my nose" was that the article + evaluation implied that he IS behaving as though he will run again. And that is something that nobody can know. Unlike Hillary, who is being watched and is obviously planning to run, Kerry is silent


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