An election question:
Has a challenger ever unseated an incumbent based at all on the strength of questions about the incumbent before he held office? In the history of modern politics? I ask this question because I frankly have no comprehension of what the Kerry campaign, and those who carry their water, are doing. As Evan Kirchoff alludes to today, they seem to be blinded by the trees.
Recent poll numbers look rotten for Kerry. Previously competitive states are now effectively out of his reach. The message his campaign should be extracting from this is, what we're doing isn't working. It's time for them to accept that Bush, good or bad, is being evaluated by voters on his 4 years in office and not on his younger years when, by his own admission, he was a yahoo.
I see exactly one way for John Kerry to resuscitate his chances. A simple 3-step process:
1) Decide specifically what it is that Bush has done wrong fighting the war on terror
2) Decide specifically what is is that he would do differently that would be an improvement
3) Start selling it like hell
Running as "Not Bush", and harping on 30-year-old questions of Vietnam heroism and National Guard service have translated into 41% of likely voters. It's...Not....WORKING!
I made this same argument before the Canadian election, imploring the Conservatives to present a positive and tangible alternative. They didn't, and you see how that worked out.
Mr. Kerry: if on November 2nd, most Americans still don't have the foggiest understanding of why you want to be President, you will lose and lose big. If you can't or won't explain why, the default assumption will be that it's because, well, you think you should be, or it's owed to you. I hope that's not the case - I'm too young to surrender to that level of cynicism.
UPDATE: David Mader is slightly pithier ("I'm almost speechless").