Is it possible that Larry King has the worst election panel in the history of the universe?
I mean, imagine having the benefit of the variety of perspectives and ideological viewpoints represented by Larry, Bob Dole and Bob Woodward — each repeating the mind-numbingly obvious with that extra little something.
Anyway, enough of that.
I flipped on the TV this evening around 9 PM and caught the bulk of John Kerry’s speech, in effect, accepting the Democratic nomination.
I thought it was a very solid speech, principally because he took on issues like the gay marriage amendment head-on — not on the president’s terms, but on his own. The president is desperate, he argued, and because he can’t run clearly on the economy or foreign policy he’s opting to muck up the nation’s founding political document for narrow and momentary political purposes.
Certainly, that message won’t resonate with confirmed Bush supporters. But I believe it will resonate even with many who strongly oppose gay marriage. That’s because it plays to what should, and I believe will, be a central theme of this election: that the Bush administration has been a for-the-moment and for-itself operation, burning through the resources of tomorrow and the hard-acquired inheritance of the past to service the political needs — its political needs — of the present.
One more thought about Kerry.
I’ve long been an admirer of John Kerry’s. And let me explain one of the sources of that admiration, or one of the experiences that formed it.
In 1996 I was a graduate student in Rhode Island. And given the puny size of Rhode Island and the way the media markets work in the region, that basically meant I was in a Massachusetts media market for Kerry’s reelection campaign that year against then-governor William Weld.
Now, Massachusetts is certainly a congenial state to run in for Democrats, especially in federal elections. But to understand the dynamics of that race it’s crucial to understand that Kerry has never been an institution in Massachusetts politics and that Weld, at the time, was extraordinarily popular.
I don’t have the exact stats in front of me. But he won reelection two years earlier, in 1994, by I believe something like 71% of the vote.
The Kerry-Weld race was supposed to be, and in many respects was, the fight of Kerry’s political life. And going into it there was good reason to believe that Kerry would lose. But he kept in it and fought and fought and fought and eventually won the race. His persistence and tenacity were impressive.
By national standards, it was a pretty clean race. But it was extraordinarily hard-fought. And since then Kerry’s always struck me as someone who was a fighter, someone who’d never give up, give in, let himself get hit without fighting back or flag in the home stretch.
That gives me some confidence about this race.
Another source of confidence I have stems from a briefing of sorts I heard last week summarizing the White House’s outlook and strategy for the coming campaign. After hearing it, I came away thinking that they’re in a serious state of denial about how this election is shaping up.