My opinion of John Kerry has gone way up recently, but I suspect that’s because I have not seen, heard, or read anything by or about him in weeks. Honestly, he ought to just change his campaign slogan to “John Kerry: The Less You See Him, The More You Like Him!” I guess his big plan is keep a low profile while the Bush Administration’s chickens come a’roostin’ at the White House.
And it looks like this strategy is working, since Bush’s “favorable” ratings are now slightly lower than those of Saruman the White. You might think this is because Bush got up in front of Congress and named Donald Rumsfeld “World’s Greatest Grandpa” moments before Seymour “Encyclopedia Brown” Hersh’s revelation that, well, okay, the Secretary of Defense might have authorized a little sexual humiliation. (But, honestly, who amongst us hasn’t?). If you ask me, though, I think Bush’s low standing is mostly due to the fact that Kerry is largely out of the picture. To get a accurate idea of how Bush will fare in this election, I think the pollsters need to interject some context into their questions.
Pollster: On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate Bush’s performance as President?
Some Guy: Oh, I dunno. Three? Four?
Pollster: [Holds up photo of Kerry] How about now?
Some Guy: Seven.
At some point Kerry will re-emerge and again get hammered for flip-floppery. I think the Republican’s portrayal of Kerry as a serial equivocator is largely overblown, there’s no getting around the fact that the man has taken every conceivable position on Iraq, often in the same sentence. If the war were peanut butter, Kerry would have already come out in favor of creamy, crunchy, extra chunky, and the gross kind where you manually stir in the oil.
That’s why I think the Kerry campaign should do more than just lay low — they should actively encourage the American public to forget about their man until the last possible minute. They could run ads like this.
First woman: Hey, have you heard about John Kerry?
Second woman: Nuh-uh, who’s he?
First woman: Beats me. Probably nobody.
And maybe they could muddy the waters a bit for good measure.
First woman: I was asking because I just saw a Bush ad that said John Kerry was “wrong of defense.”
Second woman: That’s weird. Maybe they mean Jim Carey?
First woman: You think Bush is badmouthing America’s favorite funnyman?
Second woman: Must be.
If done correctly, the press would completely forget about Kerry until the DNC “leaks” his name as the nominated candidate on October 23rd, whereupon he is heralded as the “hot new thing” and wins in a landside. This could actually work, given that the media has the attention span of a caffinated Irish Setter. It seems like they are always forgetting terribly relevant stuff and then breathlessly reporting it a again months later.
February 23, page D6: Red Cross Reports Widespread Abuses In Iraqi PrisonThe only downside to this plan is the Democratic Convention, scheduled for the end of July — that might make it hard hard to keep Kerry’s candidacy under wraps. But I have a solution for this as well. I think the convention center should be decorated with a tiki motif and all the delegates should vote Survivor-style, writing their nominations onto big pieces of paper and stuffing them into a box while giving a short speeches into the camera. (“You stabbed me in the back one to many times, Bob Graham!”) The outcome would remain secret until the big Reunion Show in late October, when all — what was it, 30? — Democratic Candidates get together in front of a live studio audience and feign surprise when the winner is announced. Kerry would then receive the grand prize of $75 million in general election federal funds, Clay Aikin as a running mate, a guaranteed spot on the following morning’s Today Show, and, no doubt, the Presidency. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you win an election in this country.
March – April, all sections: Friends retrospectives
May 14th, page A1: APPARENTLY THOSE RED CROSS ABUSE REPORTS WERE IMPORTANT!!