Time For Some Rope-a-Dope
In the last few days, I've noticed some growing consternation among various liberal bloggers, who note that the Bush campaign has steadied the ship, and put Kerry on the defensive. This Kos post from yesterday captures the current zeitgeist pretty well. The general consensus is that Kerry has to go on the offensive, and not let the Bush campaign define him so quickly in the campaign.
However, I think these bloggers are asking too much of the Kerry campaign. We all knew that the Democratic nominee would be at his weakest in the months between the end of the primaries and the conventions. In addition, we all knew that Bush's $200 million warchest was going to be unloaded around this time to exploit this weakness, which is precisely what is being done. Therefore, Kerry has to be on the defensive at this point in time; he has no other choice, given the barrage of ads against him. In retrospect, we caught some lucky breaks in the past few weeks, with Bush's guard service, the misguided 9/11 ads, and the "crooked liars" remark working in Kerry's favor. Hopefully, the publication of Richard Clarke's and Joe Wilson's books will put some wind in our sails. However, the Kerry campaign is going to be at its most vulnerable between now and the convention. The key is to hang tough and hold our own until then. Only after the Democratic convention should we go in the for the kill, so to speak.
With this in mind, I think Kerry has held his own so far. Bush's rise in the polls appears to be more a matter of solidifying his base, rather than making significant inroads among swing voters. I do agree with some of the other bloggers' recommendations, such as bringing in the Democratic Party's heavy hitters to speak on Kerry's behalf. However, whether we like it or not, we'll be in a defensive posture in the next few months. In other words, it's rope-a-dope time.