The Panic Room
Somewhere, in that often cited, yet non-existent manual on Presidential campaign good manners, I’d bet there is a rule obligating a candidate to defer in time and comment, upon the occasion of his opponent’s selection of a Vice-Presidential running mate. Bush’s phone call to John Kerry on that Tuesday Primary evening in which the Dem nominee amassed the needed delegate count, was a reminder of our forefathers resolve to instill civility in our political process. However, unlike every other violation of the honorable and principled conduct befitting the Executive Branch - that this administration promised in the 2000 campaign to restore if elected - Dick Cheney’s F-bombing on the floor of the Senate actually clocks in as a minor infraction.
If such an assault that has met Sen. John Edwards’ selection had been reversed, the proper and formal Republicans would be howling with haughty indignation. However, from this vantage point, the machinations of the White House and Bush supporters these days, are very telling – desperate times call for desperate measures.
The first ever Fox News/Opinion Dynamics Poll showing a lead by John Kerry was released on July 7th. However, it is nowhere to be found on the Fox News’ website. Bush’s mediocre approval ratings from the very same poll are all that is available online. Even watching Fox News’ morning program for the last several days, there was absolutely no mention of the poll, whatsoever. On the other hand, it looks like the Bush/Cheney ’04 campaign doesn’t need to make an ad buy on Fox, for its ‘First Choice’ TV spots featuring Sen. John McCain. Seeing that, on the day of the Edwards’ announcement, the Fox News’ anchor actually played the spot for Sen. Elizabeth Dole, twice.
In concept and theory, the RNC produced McCain commercial is a work of tactical brilliance. However, in execution and lack of forethought, it weakens under scrutiny. RNC’s Ed Gillespie should have started from the unpleasant, but pragmatic fact, that those McCain Independents he is trying to influence, know full well the Arizona Senator’s disdain for the President - and why. So, for the message - that McCain was Kerry’s first choice, and he instead is supporting the President – to achieve its utmost impact, the Senator would need to say those exact words, directly into the camera, for full effect. Unfortunately, now the McCain soundbite TV spots released by the DNC match up in style, content and, at least, equal credibility.
And now, The New Republic has served up a twist to the defrosting Bin Laden theory, with a purported triple sourced bombshell, ‘July Surprise?’. Apparently, a Bin Laden capture/killing is no longer acceptable, penciled in for an October release date. And, now the Reno 911 posse of the Middle East (the Pakistanis) are being threatened with there promised shipment of F-16 Fighter jets, needing to apprehend Bin Laden with a preferred delivery date of, oh say, month’s end?
It is now quite apparent, that Sen. John Edwards was the Republican’s and Bush campaigns least desirable (most feared?) Dem VP choice. So, hypothetically speaking, what if Edwards was the name leaked to Rupert Murdock instead? Would he have opted to secure a second source confirmation? Of course, being understandably not much in a hurry to share this news, as well as, possibly indifferent as to whether the New York Post would want to claim this scoop?
With a continued strong recovery and two full weeks of relative calm in Iraq, the behavior of this administration and its party seem quite out of sorts. No doubt, the past several weeks that have been dominated by Clinton’s book, Micheal Moore’s film, and now John Edward’s coronation, ain’t been as fun as a Republican fundraiser. But, there has not been a total collapse in the polls, and there is still a ways to go till November.
But, for Bush/Cheney ’04, there’s also the specter of the majority of Electoral College handicapping that gives Kerry the edge; no clear payoff from 3 ½ years of targeted battleground campaigning (Pennsylvania, Michigan); and the creeping realization that Ohio and Florida are no longer hard fought, yet safe. Instead, those battles are more likely to get nasty and expensive. And, if that is not enough to fill a one page PDB - Are you better off now, than a week ago, by refusing to even contemplate what John Edwards could possibly pull off in the South?
So, why the panic?Posted by Bert M. Caradine at July 13, 2004 9:10 PM