August 2, 2004
John Kerry got little or no bounce from the convention, and I'm not surprised.
Leaving aside the fact that there just aren't that many undecideds out there, the Kerry convention strategy was flawed: It was too buttoned down, too defensive, and too "on message." Especially when the message wasn't sharp enough.
Kerry's strategists were content to show that John Kerry can defend the country and salute the flag as well as the Republicans, that he can pray as fervently Sunday to Sunday, that he can throw the family values charge back, and that he can offer a few more tax breaks than the Republicans on issues like health care, child care, and education.
But that's not enough to make the sale.
It neither energizes the base nor persuades nonvoters, Greens, Naderites, Independents, or moderate Republicans that Bush is too scary to leave in office.
The Kerry folks made a crucial mistake by playing too nice, by not allowing harsh criticism of Bush's policies or of his cast of reckless and inept characters, like Cheney, Ashcroft, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz.
The Dems were unable to persuade anti-war activists who may lean toward Nader or the Greens because Kerry's view on the Iraq War is indistinguishable from Bush's.
And while Kerry said this was the most important election in our lifetime, he failed to delineate precisely how bad Bush and his crowd are on a whole range of issues.
The Bush crowd is shredding our civil liberties, pillaging the environment, letting corporate criminals off the hook, taking away paid overtime from workers while giving huge tax breaks to the richest Americans, running the deficit through the roof, and making the world a much more dangerous place. This group in power is scarier than any other except perhaps Richard Nixon prowling the White House corridors alone and drunk.
But the Kerry folks didn't make that case, and so their numbers didn't budge.