The Right Coast

July 30, 2004
Kerry or Carey?
By Tom Smith
I watched part of Kerry's acceptance speech last night, but I went along with the family vote to switch to Ace Ventura Pet Detective (the sequel set in Africa).  It was a good choice.

I can't help but be appalled by the Kerry war hero shtick (an interesting word btw;  do any readers know its origins and exact meaning?)  What I don't understand is, how is it supposed to attract swing voters?  I understand his medals make him the perfect war protestor;  they remove the stigma of cowardice.  I also get that the Democrats don't care if the Vietnam hero thing offends pro-military Republicans;  they're not voting Kerry anyway.  But what is the logic for the undecided voter?  They must have focus grouped it, but it still puzzles me.  Perhaps they think something about the war hero/war protestor paradox will appeal to the person who has not made up his mind yet, who must be someone wired up a little funny.

I saw Bush's new stump speech this morning.  I thought it was good.  Rove et al. seem to think the real heartland vs. Hollywood theme will work in battleground states such as Michigan, Ohio and Missouri, and maybe they're right.  Bush's cultural attacks were coded enough to be polite.  The implicit constrast between schoolteacher Laura and most-successful-widow of all time, Madame Kerry, was pulled off with a light touch.  He defended the war in straightforward terms.  Tax cuts versus tax increases.  Referring to Cheney as not the prettiest candidate worked, I thought.  To me, he seemed much more genuine, but there's obviously a cultural divide in the country.  MSNBC spent most of the time before the speech training its camera on the enormous backside of one female Bush supporter, just a little example of your fair-minded media at work.

But I've given up trying to see things from the point of view of potential Kerry supporters.  Beyond looking more presidential, I just don't get it.  I can't transcend my market segment any more.