November 12, 2004

Truce Watch

Carroll Andrew Morse

Arianna Huffington has an article on her blog nominally analyzing how Kerry's reluctance to talk about foreign policy contributed to his defeat, yet in her detailed tactical description how foreign policy came to be muted, she doesn't tell us what she thinks that the Kerry campaign should have been saying. She attributes the avoidance of foreign affairs to "the old obsession with pleasing undecided voters". The question is: if she didn't want Kerry to court undecideds, whom did she want him to go after?

The possibilities are 1) turn out the base with a more stridently anti-war position. But all the anti-war voters were already vehemently against Bush. Were there that many more votes to be found on the hard left?

By default, the other possibilty is to 2) convince Bush voters to switch sides. This option breaks down into two sub-options...
a) Push the "competence" angle, i.e. I'll fight the war better than Bush. Do this, however, and the pro-war talk drives voters on the left away, probably in greater numbers than the gains in the middle.
b) Talk about the war as unwinnable, and say the best you can hope for is an open-ended truce. Convince the public that a detente with Islamist terror is the only "reasonable" option.

I fear that this position is going to gain strength as the Democrats redefine themselves in the coming election cycle. Remember where you heard it first.

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Kerry lost because he failed to persuade undecided voters. The anti-Bush vote produced by the liberal 527s would have yielded 48% for any democrat. Kerry should have seldom criticized Bush, that job was done. Kerry should have run an entirely positive campaign (what that might have looked like is another question think Edwards two Americas which might have played well in Ohio). Reagan and Clinton both beat incumbents by offering a strong positive vision and agenda that went beyond criticism of the incumbent.

Huffington lacks intelligence. She desperately seeks attention and will say anything controversial for the attention.

Posted by: tom at November 12, 2004 9:35 PM