Thursday, November 18, 2004

M. Thomas: Kerry can't handle presidency: why such a lame campaign?


Personal Reflections and Michael Thomas (NY Observer):
Kerry can't handle presidency--theory of a lame campaign


Perhaps you'll agree that Michael Thomas of the Observer has written a brilliant article, all the more so in that it agrees with my theory of Democratic candidates including Carter, Dukakis and Gore, all of whom ran lackluster campaigns and lost races that were theirs to lose. (Mondale and McGovern I'd put in a separate category of running uphill campaigns.) The reason for their uninspiring campaigns, as explained here: they weren't strong enough psychologically to assume the responsibility of leadership. Dukakis in large part because of his wife's alcholism and drug addiction. Carter, who almost lost to Ford, lost to Reagan because the election came at a time when he was emotially exhausted and he could no longer deal with the pressures of the presidency, especailly with pressures emanating from the Israeli lobby and Begin and Sharon. Gore lost (and Kerry is losing) because of the kind of psychological weaknessess Thomas details below.

Thomas is especially good for pointing out that polls indicating that Bush will win suggest that voters are tuning in and they will choose the candidate who demonstrates that he wants the job. The Left misses the point when they bewail the stupidity or ignorance of those giving Bush the lead. The electorate is not going to crown a candidate who seems to want to lose.

One answer to the question of why the Democrats have been unable to come up with suitable candidates (with the exception of Clinton -- a semi-Republican?) has been put forward by Jim Di Eugenio in The Assassinations. Simply put, they killed our leaders, JFK, RFK, MLK, Malcolm X and we've never recovered.

--Ronald Bleier


September 25, 2004

Three hundred million people in this great Republic and we get these two to vote for.

by Michael M. Thomas

Three hundred million people in this great Republic and we get these two to vote for.
It is what the late political analyst James Durante would have called "a revoltin’ development!"

What makes it doubly revolting—and puzzling—is the Kerry campaign. Hardly a day goes by without some word or pose by the Massachusetts Senator that causes people like me to ask, "I don’t like Bush, but can I really make myself vote for this assh—-?"

I say this as someone who holds no brief whatsoever for the present administration. The purpose of any war is to secure the victory, and that has been achieved neither in Iraq nor, it now seems, in Afghanistan—and in both theaters of pacification, albeit at different rates, the situation may be approaching the point at which the effort can no longer justify its cost in blood and treasure.

On the domestic front, it seems clear that a Kleptocratic regime is firmly in place (that’s with a capital K, as in K Street) determined to suck the trough dry and deploy the Public Capital—including the power to tax, or not, and the power to borrow and print money—almost exclusively to its own uses. No wonder Lord Black saw no problem about making free with the assets and revenue streams of his companies; if the White House can do it, why not he? You might say His Lordship was in this respect delusional, but then on-the-make Canadians tend to be: for additional proof, viz. Graydon Carter’s new book.

That said, one wonders whether the thief one knows mightn’t be a better choice for the clear-eyed voter than the idiot one doesn’t. And "idiot" may not be too strong a word. Notwithstanding the encomia heaped on Senator Kerry’s Boston performance by the likes of "Senior Analyst" Jeff Greenfield and little Howard Fineman, that "reporting for duty" shtick was every bit as cringe-inducing as Dukakis in the tank helmet, and the speech that followed perfectly appalling. And things have gone from clumsily bad to oafishly worse.

Why? That is the question—and in pondering it, I have come up with a theory that may just be on the money and—if so—has very disturbing implications.

My theory is this: It may just be that, somewhere in his subconscious, hidden possibly even from himself, John Kerry doesn’t want to be elected.

That is why he has run the campaign he has, in the style he’s chosen: following solecism with what can only be called "photo disopportunities," seeming to encourage staff disorganization, hiding his No. 2, wasting his time and energy on marginal issues.

The key in all is ambition. Senator Kerry is ambitious to a fault. To a fault, mind you, and therein may lie the rub. It could well be that, like a rider on a runaway horse, hanging on for dear life and wishing only for the nightmare to end, and knowing that somewhere up ahead there’s a river or an ocean or a cliff that will bring the rogue steed to a halt, John Kerry has been carried by his ambition to a point that he knows to be beyond his abilities and his character—and he fears to go further.

For a perhaps more effective metaphor, imagine a mountaineer who is scaling a lofty and dangerous peak and who pauses, just before the final run-up to the summit, looks back, is made suddenly aware of the dangers he’s surmounted, and imagines that only worse dangers still lie ahead. He cannot make himself push on, but off to one side, he sees an approaching cloud cover that will make further advance impossible and provide the excuse—which he now desperately wants—to abandon the attempt and blame it on the weather. All he need do is stay where he is, and wait, and Nature will provide.

And then don’t forget this: John Kerry grew up among the remnants of, and has openly craved to be a part of, the old WASP value system in which losing gracefully—especially to a rhetorically and culturally coarse or barbaric opponent—is considered to be almost as good as winning. Indeed, depending on the rewards and responsibilities forced on one by victory, losing may be preferable, certainly to fighting dirty.

Certainly, something seems to be holding the man back. That something may be lodged in the candidate’s subconscious. If so, he will not be the first egotistical, ambitious man to back off, to in effect choose failure in preference to taking on the heavy responsibilities he has suddenly glimpsed lurking behind the bright glitter that has bedazzled him all these years. Certainly, all the excuses are in place. Indeed, the Kerry campaign has to date been a more productive exercise in excuse-positioning than a calculated, gloves-off fight for the highest office in the land—and all that goes with that office.

This may be what the polls are telling us. Say what you want about this country, but the American people’s instincts are what they are, and one thing we don’t like is being played for a fool. We may be ruled by a posse of thugs and thieves and grifters, but at least we know what they’re up to. Can we say the same—can we vote for—a man who, deep, deep down, possibly at a level he himself does not grasp, may not really want—is scared of—the office he is asking us to give him? I just don’t know.

You may reach Michael M. Thomas via email at:
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This column ran on page 1 in the 9/27/2004 edition of The New York Observer.



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