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Monday, April 26, 2004

Kerry's Plan for the Purple States

"Liberal media" polling analyst William (Bill) Schneider of CNN is actually a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, which is home mostly to conservatives and neoconservatives.

Lately, Schneider has been explaining why the Bush campaign is doing fairly well -- despite just having had a horrible several weeks in the news. Leah at corrente excerpts some of his recent analytical dialogue with Wolf Blitzer at CNN. She quotes (and highlights in yellow) this key passage:
SCHNEIDER: Despite the losses, what Americans think two words, Bush in Iraq, they remember something the United States won. They went in with overwhelming force, they got rid of Saddam Hussein regime and Saddam Hussein is now in captivity. So, the view is if you want someone that can handling a situation like that, a man of strength and decisiveness and resolve, Bush is your man.
Leah goes on to quote some other Washington talking heads who are openly criticizing Kerry for a number of campaign blunders, including the vote against the $87 billion.

I found another interesting Schneider piece, apparently from the National Journal last week, but published on the AEI website. In this piece, Schneider explains why Kerry isn't able to wound Bush's candidacy on the issue of Iraq.

Essentially, Kerry is overtly trying to reach swing voters. Good idea, right? Well, as Schneider says, "They're the ones who think that the United States was right to go to war with Iraq but that the Bush administration isn't conducting the war properly."

Kerry and Bush seem to be saying similar things about fixing the problems in Iraq -- more troops and a greater role for the UN. Thus, Kerry cannot easily distinguish his arguments when Bush is making the same ones. It reminds me of an off-color slogan involving Nixon's re-election campaign in '72. You can find it in the first comment here.

Anyway, for Kerry's base, this "pro-war" approach is potentially disastrous. True blue Democrats don't really want to fix Bush's mistake in Iraq and might be tempted by an anti-war candidate (like Nader) if Kerry persists in advancing a defense wonk's agenda for addressing the Iraq problem.

One more Nixon reference: In 1968, he let it be known that he had a "secret plan to end the war" in Vietnam.

Maybe Kerry should try that instead.

Update: I've been doing a little reading and can point everyone to a piece in the SF Chronicle from April 25 (yesterday) arguing that Bush and Kerry are "notable as much for agreement as differences" on foreign policy. Ouch.

The piece quotes Rand Beers, who left the Bush White House to work as Kerry's chief foreign policy advisor is quoted as saying,
"Bush is the wrong messenger. We will go to the European powers at a higher level to get cooperation from NATO. We will get cooperation to share the burden because we take a different approach than this administration."
The Europeans may be ready to shoot the messenger, but I'd guess they also want a different message.

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