Our Stupid Election Season
This one will be dumber than usual. Both parties will promise easy solutions to very complex problems. This is no different than any election. However, because our problems are more complex they will offer easier solutions. Sometimes they will offer solutions to the wrong problems, treating the symptom instead of the cause. It’s discouraging I know. Even after the past month, the race is basically tied. Here’s my rundown.
Bush: he will curl up into a ball, repeating a few variations on his mantra, “Stay the course. Security. War on Terror. Tax cuts. Stay the course.” From what I can tell his basic strategy is to simply survive until November. Bush will rely on Kerry’s robotic demeanor, his campaign’s general incompetence and hope Nader steals enough votes so that Bush can win by default. Call it the Stamina Strategy. It’s a pitiful, to win by not losing, but so far so good. He could pull a surprise, like appoint a different VP candidate, but surprises require a level of imagination that I doubt is available to the Bushies. They’re largely plodders. But Bush is a ‘disciplined campaigner’, which means he’s good at repeating things over and over without sounding like a too much of a dick. And he has plenty of money. Look for lots of negative ads. Old campaign advice: If you can’t say something good about your candidate say something bad about the other guy. Look for about a million tv ads that boil down to “Things Could Be Worse.” If there’s not another terror attack, his surrogates will try to find a subtle (or not so subtle) way to take credit for it. If there is another terror attack, look for a “Bush Will Get Those Bastards” message and the implication that Kerry doesn’t have what it takes to fight terror, "Another Democrat with no balls."
Kerry: can someone have anti-charisma? This guy makes Gore look like Ashton Kuchner. And he’s dull. He gave a speech criticizing Bush’s ‘Leave No Child Behind’ policy. The Daily Show referred to Kerry’s speech as ‘Leave No Child Awake’. What little personality he has comes off as pompous, stiff and verbose. When he speaks he uses bizarre syntax and takes far too long to make a point. Here’s a good example, about abortion and the Supreme Court:
"I will not appoint somebody with a 5-4 court who's about to undo Roe v. Wade. I've said that before. But that doesn't mean that if that's not the balance of the court I wouldn't be prepared ultimately to appoint somebody to some court who has a different point of view.”
Whaaa? Three negatives? Remember, he said this. People didn’t read it, they heard it. He really talks like that. Slate.com calls these Kerryisms. And his campaign staff is in constant disarray.
Still, the race is more or less even. Kerry’s strategy is to not make an ass of himself, fly under the press radar and let Bush keep shooting himself in the foot. Call it the Unpopularity strategy. Kerry hopes that Iraq and Administration infighting will bleed Bush to exhaustion, and drive up his negative numbers more than Bush can drive up Kerry’s. Kerry knows he will never be popular but he can be less unpopular than Bush. It’s the political equivalent of a war of attrition and we know how those turn out: everybody loses but one side loses more.
Did I mention Kerry was in Vietnam? I for one have Vietnam fatigue (see earlier posts). He won some medals 30 years ago. What does that have to do with squat? Is Kerry going to reenlist and fight in Afghanistan?
Nader: who votes for this guy? Right now he’s polling 3 or 4 % in some states. That’s enough for Bush to win. I imagine his strategy as a kind of 'Let’s Fuck Everything Up and Hope for the Best' or 'the Worse It Gets The Better Things Will Be'. If Kerry can’t neutralize Nader, it could cost him the election. Nader wants to pull out of Iraq in six months. That could become more popular if things get worse over there (and they will).
It’s going to be quite a comedy. Bush repeating the same 10 words over and over. Kerry taking half an hour to remind you he was in Vietnam and both supported and didn’t support whatever issue is at hand. Nader making sentimental and ludicrous promises. Repeat. Over and over. For the next 5 months.