Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Tuesday, April 13, 2004  

Whomever suggested to Kerry that he should run the "misery index" up the flagpole ought to be fired. As is now well known, Bush actually looks pretty good on the historical misery index--the one created by Arthur Okun and used by (and later against) Jimmy Carter. Instead, Kerry advanced a bogus new misery index that cherry picked all the negatives from Bush's economy and ignored the positives (like relatively low unemployment rates).

Why was this boneheaded? Let us count the ways. By using a bogus misery index, Kerry sent the message that the economy's actually fine. But of course it's not. Why isn't Kerry just focusing on the things that really are bad? Kerry's running against a President whose central flaw is his credibility. So Kerry does what?--forwards an argument that strains credulity. And how about the timing? Bush is chin-deep in hot water and sinking fast. Kerry just threw him a life preserver. There's an old axiom in politics that says when your opponent is commiting political suicide, get out of the way. Here Bush is, dumping tens of millions of dollars into smearing Kerry, and his polling numbers are plummeting. It's unlikely the news will be this bad for Bush until the election, so all Kerry had to do was avoid giving the President anything could use against him.

If I were Kerry's advisor, this is what I'd tell him: Bush is in big trouble. People have lost faith in his leadership and they can't trust him. All you have to do to win the election is seem a little more trustworthy and a little less dangerous. You need to look Presidential. At all costs, avoid situations that will cause people to doubt your leadership or credibility. Once every couple of weeks, spend an afternoon giving a seriously dry, wonky speech. Talk about foreign policy and economic theory. No one will know what the hell you're talking about, but it will give you gravitas. Surround yourself with incredibly capable, trusted people.

And when the news cycles are filled with negative press about the President, don't give them any reason to start going negative about you.

posted by Jeff | 10:32 AM |
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