Thursday, April 29, 2004
By Steven Taylor

Preface: Clearly candidates often find themselves faced with a storyline attached to their campaign, fairly or not (e.g., Bush isn’t too bright, he doesn’t read, doesn’t ask questions, or Gore is an exaggerator, etc). Kerry clearly finds himself being classified as a “waffler” or “flip-flopper” (i.e., being on multiple sides of issues on a regular basis).

I think, as a matter of analysis, not partisanship, that Kerry currently has a very serious problem as described above. Further, I think that this is likely to become an increasing liability. And while there are some parallels here with Gore, I think that Kerry could end up being more of a Bob Dole type candidate. Indeed, even with Gore’s liabilities, he was the sitting Vice President coming off a flawed, but successful, administration. Kerry is challenging an incumbent President.

The Challenge: I am looking for serious commentary from commenters, and hopefully other bloggers who support Kerry along the following lines:

1) Is it fair to say that Kerry has the problem described above?

2) If not, why would you argue such?

3) If yes, what would you recommend the candidate do to deal with this problem?

4) Do you think that this problem is simply one of image, or is there a real problem here?

Caveat: The point here isn’t the explain how Kerry is, indeed, right about a specific issue (e.g., medals and ribbons are interchangeable terms, etc.).

UPDATE: This is my entry in today’s Beltway Traffic Jam

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By Steven Taylor

Slate points to this Explainer written about Gephardt’s campaign cash once he quit, but that is relevant to the Gore donations as well.

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By Steven Taylor

Saigon, South Vietnam (1973) As a result of the Treay of Paris, US troops have been completely withdrawn from South Viet Nam. It is rumored that SecState Kissinger will be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. President Nixon was unable to be reached for comment (something about listening to tapes).

(In other words: just in case anyone hasn’t noticed: the Viet Nam war is over–could we bring Campaign 2004 into, well, 2004?).

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By Steven Taylor

James Joyner has an excellent post on the “Chicken Hawk” issue (which, for reasons that have nothing to do with politics, always reminds me of Foghorn Leghorn cartoons)–his analogies to firefighters and law enforcement are apt.

At any rate, while I can see the point about saying that in the late 60s/early 70s Kerry’s service was of an order higher than Bush’s, and certainly multiple quanta more impressive than Cheney’s lack of service.



1) What does that have to do with the quality, or lack thereof, of the subsequent political careers of the three gentlemen?

2) What does that have to do with whether Bush or Kerry would make a better President?

3) I would note: George H. W. Bush was an authentic war hero, as was Bob Dole: both were beaten soundly by Bill Clinton, who wasn’t a war hero. Carer was in the Navy, Reagan made some propaganda films, yet Reagan won. U. S. Grant was a general and won the CIvil War, but was a rotten President. FDR never served in the military, yet was a successful CINC. To my knowledge Thomas Jefferson never served in the military. Was Zachary Taylor a great President? Washington and Jackson left their marks, to be sure. In other words: what exactly does military service mean about being President? Is there a correlation of note?

4) Above all else, as I noted yesterday: why should serving in the military mean you are safe from all criticisms on your post-military defense-related activities?

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By Steven Taylor

Irishmen refuse to leave jail in Colombia over death fears

Three Irish republicans acquitted of training Colombian Marxist rebels are refusing to leave prison in Bogota because of fears they could be killed by death squads.

James Monaghan, Niall Connolly and Martin McCauley, who have already spent 32 months in a Colombian jail, were told by Judge Jaime Acosta that they could leave prison if they paid a fine of $6,500 each.

At first their supporters hoped they could leave the country altogether, but now the three men have told they must remain in Colombia pending an appeal by the public prosecutor against their acquittal.

Mr Monaghan’s lawyer, Pedro Mahecha, said last night that the three men fear that if they leave prison they will be murdered by right-wing death squads, and have therefore decided not to pay their fines until the Government guarantees their safety.

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By Steven Taylor

USAT has an interesting piece on the politics of the economy: It’s the economy, voters. But whose economy? Bush says USA is on upswing. Kerry sees it sinking. Each has numbers on his side.

One of the first paragraphs states the following:

Some Americans feel prosperous, others hard-pressed. That has given both presidential candidates ammunition as they try to shape attitudes about the state of the nation.

This kind of statement annoys me greatly, because the question is: when is this not the case, aside from times of an utterly horrific econony? And even then some feel prosperous and others feel hard-pressed. Yeesh.

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By Steven Taylor

WaPo reports: Leaks About Foes Seen as Routine in Campaigns

On Monday morning, Sen. John F. Kerry was confronted with a 1971 videotape that appeared to contradict his past accounts of whether he had thrown away his military medals as a Vietnam War protest.


copies of the tape were provided to two news organizations by the Republican National Committee, according to several media staff members familiar with the situation who, not surprisingly, said they could not be identified while discussing confidential sources.

Jim Dyke, the RNC’s communications director, said he could not “discuss what information we discuss with reporters” and added: “It is interesting that John Kerry, confronted with his own words, blamed the RNC. Where the tape came from, the place to start would be the National Archives.”

Not surprising, and validates Kerry and McAuliffe’s citation of the RNC as at least partially responsible for the medals flap. Nor am I surprised. However, it is still over the top for the Kerry camp to forget that the actual grilling came from ABC and, more significantly, the problem was not created by the RNC, it was created by Kerry’s own words over time.

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By Steven Taylor

Economy Grows at 4.2% Rate in First Quarter

The economy grew at an annual rate of 4.2 percent in the opening quarter of 2004, a solid showing and fresh evidence that the business recovery is solidly on track. But the performance wasn’t the blowout that some analysts wanted.

In regards to that last sentence: is it ever?

The goal was 5%, it seems:

The reading on gross domestic product for the January-to-March quarter, reported by the Commerce Department Thursday, marks a slight pickup from the 4.1 percent rate registered in the final quarter of 2003. While the first quarter figure suggests that the recovery is in good shape, it fell short of the strong 5 percent pace that economists were forecasting.

And they think we are staying in the 4-5 range, which is healthy, although granted not “en fuego”:

Economic growth in the current April-to-June quarter is expected to clock in at a rate in the range of 4.5 percent to 5 percent, according to some analysts’ estimates. Growth in the second half of this year, however, may slow a bit to around a 4 percent pace, a still-healthy rate, some economists said. That may occur as the stimulus of tax refunds and tax reductions fades, if energy prices remain high and mortgage rates climb — factors that could slow consumer spending, analysts said.

Some jobs news:

n other economic news, the Labor Department reported that new filings for jobless benefits fell last week by 18,000 to 338,000, another sign that layoffs are easing. Workers’ wages and benefits grew by 1.1 percent in the first quarter, the biggest increase in a year, the department said in a second report.


After months of sluggish payroll gains, the economy added a hefty 308,000 jobs in March, the most in four years. Economists are hopeful the March employment figures are a sign that the job market is turning a crucial corner. But they said they want to see net payroll gains in the range of at least 150,000 to 200,000 a month on a sustained basis to provide confirmation that the corner has been turned and the labor market is on a real path to full health.

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By Steven Taylor

news round-up on this topic

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Wednesday, April 28, 2004
By Steven Taylor

Reading the story more carefully (Gore Pledges Over $6 Million to Democrats) one finds:

Most of the money comes from Gore’s general election legal and accounting compliance fund, which showed $6.6 million on March 31. The $240,000 going to the Florida Democratic Party comes from an account established to help pay for the 2000 recount drive.

That makes more sense.

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