Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Kerry campaign collapsing
Quite a lot can happen in three days. The Shaheens take over the John Kerry for president campaign, Kerry tells staffers he is firing his campaign manager, via conference call, while chomping on dinner. He brings in a Kennedy hack, two other campaign workers jump ship in protest, and then he bombs on Jay Leno.
Kerry's campaign is imploding.
This is what happens when you are the frontrunner two years away from an election and it is sad to see. It has happened to some of the best of them but never like this. However, it wasn't unexpected.
As someone who has watched Kerry for over 15 years, seen him in other races, and watched him lose all spine when the tough votes have come along, I could have told you this would happen. When he first came to the senate, Kerry was a champion of campaign finance reform, refusing PAC money and only accepting $250 donations. Then he changed his mind and started taking big money and formed his own presidential slush fund PAC. He paints himself as a champion of the environment but what has he actually done for the environment? Just voting against drilling in ANWR isn't enough. What legislation has he sponsored and moved through the senate? Where are the tax breaks for people who purchase hybrid cars? Kerry drives a massive SUV - what kind of example does this set?
Kerry has no recognizable legislative record despite being in a safe seat in Mass. Politicians who have safe seats are the ones who are supposed to be the visionaries. They can afford to take chances on being thinkers and floating new ideas. Kerry has had 18 years to prove himself beyond his war record and blue-blood good looks and has nothing to show for it. In fact, his actions on legislation are coming back to haunt him on a massive scale in this campaign.
Take organized labor.
Kerry has always had a bad relationship with the unions in Mass. [sans the governmental and teachers' unions] but lucky for him, most of these voters have never had a place to go [Anti-union zealots Jim Rappaport (1990), Bill Weld (1996) and Michael Cloud (2000), have been Kerry's challengers].
However, instead of making some inroads with the union folks, Kerry has kicked the shins of working folks and organized labor by voting for NAFTA, GATT and the WTO, and PMFN trade status for China. Kerry, like Ted Kennedy, Joe Kennedy, and other Democrats in Mass., has taken advantage of the fact that many voters have had nowhere else to go. Instead of standing up for workers, Kerry has helped pass bad corporate and workers' legislation. Kerry's reaction to working folks on his trade votes? TFB - we live in a global society and if you can't compete with 10 cent labor in China, too bad, blah, blah, blah. I saw him literally say that to a handful of Verizon workers in Manchester complaining that they couldn't compete with workers from India. They were all pretty shocked but I wasn't.
Well, John, welcome to New Hampshire and Iowa, where working families are struggling to put food on the table because the factory jobs are gone and people have to work two or three service slave jobs at a fraction of the wages they once earned. Kerry helped these people lose their economic advantages as Americans and then he wonders why they don't bow to him during his presidential campaign?
Then there is the war vote which has cost Kerry dearly. Supporting the president's invasion has hurt other campaigns, and it is one of the reasons Howard Dean is even taken seriously at all. At the time of the vote, Kerry and others were worried about being painted as too liberal for not backing the war. Well, it has come back to kick you in the ass, hasn't it? Dick Gephardt also voted the same as Kerry but isn't being treated as badly because - for the most part - he has stood with working people. Kerry doesn't have that to fall back on and the brie and wine crowd became Republicans years ago. Both John Edwards and Joe Lieberman are also fading, although their support for the invasion of Iraq is only a small part of the reason why they are fading.
Kerry even came back to Boston to do local TV, telling Natalie Jacobsen that his campaign isn't collapsing [see for yourself this Sunday at 10 a.m. on Channel 5]. Sure, Boston TV reaches southern New Hampshire. But the stunt smells of trying to protect the home base.
In the end, all the staff changes are not going to whip this campaign into shape. It is a sinking ship unless Kerry - not the staff - can find direction - any direction - as to where he plans to lead the nation. Right now, the direction Kerry has shown voters is a bad one.

Another look at Dean's opting out...
Robert Kuttner has a pretty good piece in the Boston Globe this morning about the power of small donations: ["Growing power of small money"]. This is a great point. Look at the numbers: Two million $70 donations equals $140 million. That is a lot of cash. Look further: Two million volunteers working street by street, precinct by precinct in swing states and not, promoting the candidate. Hmm - Bush: 70,000 people ponying up $2,000 checks in his "Ranger" and "Pioneer" programs. Or any Democrat: two million people ponying up $70. Eh, give me the latter any day of the week.

... and another look at Nader
"Never say Nader"

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