What the Hell is the Kerry Campaign Thinking?
Ever since John F. Kerry wrapped up the nomination, I've been impressed with his campaign strategy, both in terms of nimbly parrying the inevitable VRWC onslaught, and in quickly healing the intra-party wounds resulting from the divisive primary. Having said that, I find the decision to roll out his economic plan this past week completely inexplicable. The Clarke interview on 60 Minutes, along with his masterful and classy appearance in front of the 9/11 commission, sent a systemic shock through the White House and RNC that we thought we'd never see. Dubya's national security advantage, the one leg he has left to stand on, is dangerously close to evaporating, which explains the flailing, panicked response by the White House. So what does Kerry do? He changes the subject by instead focusing on the economy. Huh?
A number of bloggers have noticed the disturbing reticence on the part of the Democratic establishment to tackle national security (and foreign policy in general) head on, preferring instead to focus on domestic issues. You would think that the 2002 midterm elections would amply demonstrate the foolishness of this strategy. Indeed, I thought Kerry had learned this lesson when he rolled out a comprehensive terrorism strategy last month. But announcing a major jobs plan during a week when the entire country is transfixed on matters of terrorism and national security betrays either a continuing lack of self-confidence in this area, or a tin ear to the realities of this election.
If there's one saving grace, it's the White House's foolish decision to give the Clarke saga more juice by having Bill Frist dangle the perjury card on the Senate floor. As Jim Thompson and John Lehman found out on Wednesday, Clarke doesn't suffer fools gladly, and this latest desperate gambit seems likely to blow up in the White House's face, judging from Bob Graham's sly comments. However, the Kerry campaign can't rely on Republican incompetence forever. I think.