Friday, January 30, 2004

The RNC-Bush Strategy

Watching an RNC event with Ken Mehlman (link pops a video), Bush-Cheney 2004 Campaign Manager, on C-Span earlier, I realized two things. That Dean is the candidate that the RNC is most afraid of, and that Kerry is the candidate they are least concerned about.

There is reasoning and there is evidence behind the conclusion that the RNC is afraid of Dean. Their hail of attacks on Dean including spending hundreds of thousands on ads attacking Dean before a single primary vote was cast is ample evidence of thier fear. Reasoning suggests that the only candidates they would fear would be ones capable of inspiring millions of Americans to return to the political process on the side of the Democrats. Dean demonstrably has that ability. 55% of participants in the Iowa caucuses were brand new. Turnout for the NH primaries was up from the norm of 100-120K to 200K. It is Dean who is inspiring these turnouts.

Mehlman already has a thorough excoriation of Kerry's record at tongue-tip. He rips Kerry for more than just his liberal voting record, he upbraids him for sponsoring cuts in national defense and cuts intelligence funding following 9/11. He savages Kerry on his vote against the first Gulf War and his hypocrisy in voting for the Iraq resolution then condemning the war, voting for the Patriot Act then attacking it, voting for NCLB and attacking it. He has a point; doesn't Kerry read these things? How many more votes will Kerry have to defend himself on? Will he spend the entire campaign defending his record? If so, he's meat.

The idea that Kerry is electable because he's tall, a vet, and has good hair and somber manner is a joke. Electabillity isn't a personal quality, it a strategic asset. You can't see it by looking and listening as a candidate speaks. You have to understand his record, understand his hidden assets, and understand the power of his message.

Clark and Edwards have a superior electability simply as a matter of being Southern, having little record to attack, and, in Clark's case, being a General and war hero, and in Edwards case being a very strong personal campaigner. Either would be a superior choice to Kerry if voters want the more obvious trappings of electability.

But if they want real strengths which are the core a electability, Dean is the best choice. Dean has shaped the entire message and injected new life into the demoralized Democratic Party. Dean is capable, by dint of his message and his genuine charisma, of inspiring the millions of new active voters Democrats need to win. Dean has a genuine, open, and honest demeanor which can make inroads into new demographics. Dean pisses the Republican off. That throws them off their high horse which they have pretended to mount for this campaign and opens a line of attack against the GOP's negativity. Dean has inspired an army of hundreds of thousands of grassroots organizers and activists who can redress the imbalance in direct spending the the Democrats will suffer.

Dean is the most electable, the best choice for President, and source of inspiration to remake the Democratic Party. Kerry is a poor fourth, at best, in terms of being able to actually defeat Bush.

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