Monday, October 25, 2004

Quick Spin: Here's a worthwhile article, one of the best critiques of the "war room" campaign mentality, by the Weekly Standard's Noemie Emery. While the piece makes some good points about Kerry's rotten war room decisions, it suffers from two flaws. First, it makes the perfect the enemy of the good. Despite some of Kerry's ham-handed rapid response strategies, at least he has made an effort. Bush's strategy has been to essentially let his opponent's accusations float around, making no attempt to definitively shoot them down.

Second, Emery credits Clinton's "famed war room" with saving Bubba's bacon more than once. Odd, then, that Kerry's war room is staffed by Clinton veterans like Mike McCurry and Joe Lockhart. They just can't seem to pull off the same magic. Of course, Clinton's "comeback kid" reputation was always a myth. 1992 was the original year of the dwarves. (I've mentioned the SNL sketch before -- here -- in which all the heavyweight Dems offer excuses for not running.) Clinton's famous comeback that year was his loss (though not by as much as expected) to Paul Tsongas in New Hampshire, who's main promise seemed to be that he wouldn't die before his term was up. (And he was wrong, actually; he would have died two days before the end of his term.) Think about it. The Dems got stomped in 1988 running a liberal Greek guy from Massachusetts against George Bush. Did anyone really think the Dems were dumb enough to run against Bush in 1992 with . . . a slightly-less-liberal Greek guy (with cancer) from Massachusetts?

Of course, Emery makes the fine point that Clinton could argue that his girl trouble wasn't a policy issue, whereas Kerry's idiocy seems mainly policy related. Still, the war room wasn't even all it was cracked up to be for Clinton (who simply ended up being the biggest midget). And even if it was, Clinton needed it, since a new shady liason, whether real estate or sexual, seemed to arrive nearly every week. Kerry doesn't need it, since the man is perceived to be entirely composed of spin by much of the electorate.

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