James Clay Fuller

Things We're Not Supposed to Say

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Kerry: We could lose despite a win

It appears now that there is at least an even chance that John Kerry will win the election this fall – or rather than Bush & Co. will lose it. It also appears that if Kerry does become president, he and the Beltway boobs to whom he pays far too much attention will blow the opportunity big time, allowing right wing extremists to take over the White House again in another four years.

Increasingly, the polls show that the election will come down to the strength of the ABB (anybody but Bush) vote. Bush sinks in the esteem of all but the fanatic rightist portion of the electorate, but Kerry doesn’t gain.

It’s not hard to figure out why both of those things are true.

Bush’s poll numbers sink because he and his handlers got caught: No “weapons of mass destruction” (a silly term, by the way), obviously no understanding of how Iraqis would react to occupation, no plan for post-invasion government or recovery, getting caught torturing prisoners (finally and with very little thanks to our slavish press) and the dawning realization that the torture was authorized at the top.

It also is beginning to sink into the minds of a self-absorbed population that huge federal deficits are detrimental to the health of the nation, and that flipping the bird at the rest of the world and spitting on international treaties right and left are actions not likely to enhance the safety, economy or international standing of this country.

Not only isn’t Kerry capitalizing on the revelations and the increasing disgust with the Bush crowd, he’s making a fool of himself avoiding direct confrontation and frank condemnation of the horrors perpetrated by the Bushies.

He’s not showing us that he’s a far superior alternative to what we have now; he’s simply “not Bush.” In truth, he appears to live on a three-meal-a-day diet of waffles, just as the Republicans claim. He looks gutless, which is not the way to win over macho America.

Even those who hold that we must vote for Kerry at all costs appear to see him, at most, as a president pro tem – someone to hold the fort until and unless “somebody” can find “someone” better – never mind that we had two or three candidates who are better.

What brought all this to the forefront, I think, was the reaction of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) bunch and their counterparts in the Kerry campaign to Al Gore’s May 26 speech at New York University. Gore talked loudly and well about Bush’s “arrogance, willfulness and bungling” and said in clear English that the nominal president is incompetent.

If only Gore had been half so forthcoming when he was the Democratic candidate. But even though he isn’t the candidate this year, his statements put the Democratic Beltway boobs into a tizzy. Descriptions of their reaction amounted to a picture of a 19th century lady about to swoon from the vapors. A quick sniff of smelling salts and they ran to whisper in Kerry’s ear about how dangerous such words are and how he must stand apart from them. And so he has done.


The Democrat in-crowd obviously has not ventured more than a few miles from the center of Washington in years, at least in mind or spirit. It’s as though they’ve been in an isolation room – which, of course, Washington is in a very real way. The main concern of the DNC executives and staffers– sometimes it appears to be their only concern – is access to big-buck contributors. They twist themselves, and Democratic campaigns, into all sorts of ugly shapes in their efforts to catch the corporate financial crumbs that don’t go to the Republicans.

When they spare a few minutes to think about something else, it is how to appeal to the largely mythical “centrist swing voters.”

Never mind that in playing to a handlful of phantom voters who might (or might not) be nudged into voting for a wishy-washy, no-principles Democrat they alienate hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of liberals who should be solid Democratic voters.

The DNC and it’s counterparts in state Democratic and campaign organizations seem to have missed entirely the lessons of the last few years about how to organize and raise money for principled political organizations. Specifically, they have missed the lessons on integrity and consistency. MoveOn, True Majority Action, the League of Conservation Voters and others thrive to the very substantial degree they do because the Democratic party has failed the people who support them. The party long ago became an enclave of craven poll watchers who fear taking a stand more than they fear even an election loss.

Contrast that with the opposition.

The Democrats, having been jolted by Howard Dean, now are trying to use the Internet as he did, but they haven’t grasped the basic ingredients of Dean’s successful use of the medium, particularly the consistency and integrity of his approach.

The daily DNC fundraising emails are too frequent; people grow tired very quickly of being hounded for money every day. More importantly, the DNC still is playing what should be their core constituency for suckers: Being righteous and firm-sounding and strongly and accurately critical of the Bush crowd in emails to party stalwarts and known liberals, and running a soft, gutless campaign for television, radio and newspapers, sidestepping virtually all of the major issues.

They do not grasp that the liberals are on to them. They do not understand that people want and need a true, courageous alternative to right wing rule. They do not understand that as long as they continue on their present course, the money will continue to go to principled organizations rather than to the DNC – nor do they seem close to understanding that if they really appealed to the public, especially to now essentially partyless liberals, they could gather more in contributions than they can get from trying to sweep up the orts of corporate money the Republicans have let fall to the floor.

So, it is entirely possible that Kerry will gain the presidency. But the Democrats, and Kerry, are failing utterly to tell the public the truth about the right wing and it’s goals, and so they will not make any gains in Congress.

And the right wing is patient, organized, rich and very, very skilled at the manipulation of public opinion. They’ll hold Congress, and they’ll be back in the White House as soon as the Bush blunders have blown over.

The only way to prevent that is to do a thorough clean-out of the Democratic leadership structure, replacing the integrity-deprived and brain-short old hacks with people who have guts, intelligence and the ability to think and plan years ahead.

If Kerry wins the election, liberals should allow themselves about 24 hours of relief and celebration. Then they’d better double their efforts in the political arena, and pound and pound at Kerry to do the job this country so desperately needs from a president.