Thankfully, It Is Now Bush's Race To Lose
So Time and Newsweek’s polls show that Bush clobbered Kerry coming out of his convention, shooting up to a 53%-54% level against the low 40’s for Kerry. I guess we should all just roll up the flag and go home, right? Another example of the big, bad GOP being smarter, tougher, more ruthless, and better focused, while our guys fell asleep and ran a poor convention, right?
Maybe, maybe not. Why would I say that? Well, because of Rasmussen, but more on that later. But the real reason things are not as bad as they seem is:
Because it is now Bush’s race to lose.
There are several good things in all of this. First, Kerry sucks when he is in front, and is much better when he is coming from behind and up against the wall. The blasting that Kerry got last week seems to have rousted him and marginalized those wusses in his campaign that were steering an inept, lackluster effort. By necessity, Kerry must attack and fight from this point on, and that is a good thing.
Second, Bush and Rove have already shown that they know how to blow a lead of double digits against a campaign that was groping for answers. Remember that Bush was up by double digits in 2000 and lost by over 500,000 votes. In fact, I am arguing here that Bush/Cheney may have peaked too early.
Third, it will help Kerry and his campaign to start thinking and acting like the scrappy underdogs in this race. The Kerry camp needs to remind themselves and more importantly the media that they are now the underdogs against the big, bad White House and get the media to understand that Team Kerry is not only fighting long odds against Bush and Rove, but also against the media itself. Holding the media accountable and as part of the problem will help, and by “working the refs” here, the payback will be gradually improving media coverage the remainder of the way. In fact, the first place to start would be to remind the media of all the nice things they said about Kerry/Edwards coming out of their convention, and then contrast it with what those same media folks said about Kerry/Edwards right after the GOP convention (hello Chris Matthews). The only thing that changed was a negative GOP convention, and yet the media demonstrated another example of its short attention span.
Fourth, there will be a different dynamic from this point on, as the Democratic operatives and others inside the government who are opposed to another four years of Bush/Cheney will now be more likely with Kerry trailing and somewhat desperate to dump the dirt that they have been holding on to. Will there be surprises from the Agency forthcoming, either with the burgeoning Pentagon/Chalabi/Israel/Iran espionage case, the Plame matter, or other issues? Again, there is still eight weeks left in this race, and that is plenty of time for folks to shoot their scuds at Bush/Cheney that have heretofore been kept holstered. What will be the damage from the Bob Graham book, the Sy Hersh book, and most importantly the Kitty Kelley book? Hell, even the AP confirmed this afternoon that Bush’s National Guard file has holes in it that cannot be easily explained. Will there be a cumulative effect from all of these releases in the coming weeks?
Lastly, what exactly is the real state of the race right now? Is it really a double-digit campaign-crippling deficit as Time and Newsweek tell us, or is it much smaller, as Rasmussen of all people says it is. Note that Rasmussen’s daily tracking poll for today, which includes two days of post-convention results, shows not only that Bush is ahead of Kerry by only 1.2% (47.6% to 46.4%), but that Bush’s numbers have already fallen from yesterday while Kerry has shot up nearly 2%. And take a close look at what Rasmussen was reporting for Bush before the convention (47%) and what he is reporting for Bush now (48%), compared to Kerry who Rasmussen had at 46% at both times. So exactly what is the bounce and is Kerry really tanking?
The GOP convention taught us all that the gloves should come off once and for all. There is no longer any shame in going negative by exposing someone's record and lies. There is no longer any shame in making big deal out of what George W. Bush and Dick Cheney did in the past or even thirty years ago, since apparently John Kerry's past is a disqualifier as well. It is not unpatriotic to slam Bush and Cheney's conduct in the war on terror, in Iraq, and their record as wartime leaders, since this is the sole reason given by them for another four years. Fine then, let's ram it down their throats like they smeared Kerry on his Vietnam record. It is not shameful to question the behavior and morality of men who assume a moral superiority over their opponents. And it is not shameful to remind voters of those that have died and continue to die for Bush's war of choice in Iraq that has done nothing to make us safer here at home.
Everything is now on the table. And I mean everything. As they say in Texas, we're playing for real here, so let's play with all of our chips.
The new mindset can and should liberate us. We are no longer the front-running, cautious, "it’s Kerry’s race to lose" crowd. We get to assume the scrappy, attacking, odds-against-us underdog role while Rove and Bush now have the pressure of not screwing up. Whenever we get attacked by the GOP and the Bush supporters with their gloating and remarks about how they are going to win and kick our butts, we should just reply “boy, it sure looks bad for us, and you guys should win pretty easily I guess,” all the while smiling like the cat who just ate the canary.
Remember the new mantra: “It’s Bush’s race to lose.” And we should say that with a sly smile.