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Kerry Loses Control

In the art and science of running a successful campaign, candidate discipline is right up at the top of the list of things required to succeed. Bill Clinton, while perhaps the least disciplined President we've ever had, was a master of campaign discipline. If it took a note on the wall saying "It's the economy stupid" to keep him on track, so be it. Kerry has no such discipline.

Having no real challenge in the primary, Kerry's lack of self-control did not stop his quest for the nomination as it would have in a normal year. Now, with the Swift Boat Vets giving Kerry his first real test on the national stage, Kerry's response has been both undisciplined and frankly, bizarre. After watching his behavior for the last few days, he appears to be losing control of his campaign and perhaps even his own behavior. Lacking a clear and concise strategy for dealing with the issue and perhaps lacking a clear and concise story, Kerry has left his campaign message and resorted to rather erratic tactics.

First he called Bob Dole and asked Dole to denounce his own comments critical of Kerry. Certainly Kerry knew -or should have known- that news of the call would get out. Rather than help Kerry, it gave Dole an opportunity to expand his criticisms.

Not content with embarrassing himself by being shunned by Bob Dole, Senator Kerry placed a technically illegal call to one of the Swift Boat Vets to see if he could get the Vet to come to his side. Rather than winning the Vets approval, a report of that phone call makes Kerry look both clueless and desperate.

When the late night phone calls failed to win over his detractors, Kerry lost all control. Now he's taking a page out of Michael Moore's playbook - see previous Wizbang coverage [Kerry Buddies To Visit Bush Ranch].

What exactly Kerry hopes to gain by this modern version of "Roger and Me" is unclear. Is he trying to shame the President? Is he hoping for video of his people being pushed away by Secret Service agents?

Remember- at this point in the campaign Kerry should be trying to look Presidential. The voters, rather than seeing a strong leader, are seeing a rather odd man sending his lackeys to grovel at the gates of power. The "Roger and Me" shtick might be fine for Michael Moore badgering the head of GM but Kerry wants to be leader of the free world. So far, he is looking woefully un-Presidential.

Perhaps even more disturbing is what it says about the man and his ability to lead. Kerry has said repeatedly that his skills of persuasion would be strong enough to get Russia, France and Germany to do what they have repeatedly sworn they would not. Does his current behavior foretell how he would deal with future diplomatic impasses?

Will he send the future Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense to bang on the gates of the Kremlin with a protest letter?

Rather than lashing out at Bush who, by the way, is not running the ad, Kerry would be better served buckling down and solving the problem. The issue is that his reports of his war record are often in disagreement with the facts. Placing late night phone calls asking people to quit pointing that fact out will not resolve the issue.

If Kerry cannot develop and stick to a clear and concise campaign plan for dealing with a few campaign attack ads, what makes anyone believe he is up to the task of commander in chief?


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» The Key Monk linked with Pushback from Bush

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Comments (41)

Bush should go out and shak... (Below threshold)

Bush should go out and shake Cleland and Rassman's hand. Pose for a photo op and say these words.

"Thank you both for your faithful and honorable service to the country.

Because of campaign finance laws created by my friend John McCain, I can't interfere with any soft money groups. Will you join me in calling for all of the soft-money 527s to stop airing negative ads?"

Then invite them in for BBQ.

It's just retail politics. ... (Below threshold)

It's just retail politics. Presumeably Mr. Kerry believes that's where his greatest strengths lie. It would certainly explain his apparent conviction that he can bring France and Germany around.

But calling Bob Dole is a puzzler. You don't get to be Senate Minority Leader without being a pretty partisan guy. Did Mr. Kerry think his persuasive skills were that good?

The Cleland/Rassman visit i... (Below threshold)

The Cleland/Rassman visit is pure political theater. Gator is right about Bush's best response, but I would add that on the way out, Bush's campaign should give them Bush Cheney T-Shirts and other paraphernalia.

As far as the tactics? This is the campaign silly season. It's August and between the conventions, so nothing really important is happening. I wouldn't base my assessments of Kerry on what happens right now; stunts are to be expected at this point in the cycle.


Gator, one more thing ... ... (Below threshold)
Mike G. in San Diego:

Gator, one more thing ... Bush (or better yet, someone with him) should ostentatiously hand copies of Standard Form 180 to Cleland and Rassman, and tell them that John Kerry could put the controversy to rest in five minutes just by agreeing to release *all* of his records.

These are my thoughts latel... (Below threshold)

These are my thoughts lately, too. The Kerry campaign seems to be completely clueless. If the tranzi-soci left and MSM didn't hate George Bush so vehemently, this whole election would be over by now (in spirit) and Kerry would just be a piece of blackened toast. As it stands, though, he's not (yet).

A candidate this inept should not be allowed within fifteen miles of the Presidency.

Out of control, I guess you... (Below threshold)

Out of control, I guess you did not consider that Kerry is trying to generate some free positive press coverage.

Based on your focus on it, I think it is working.

Keep on reporting on it, us Kerry supporters appreciate your efforts.


Uh, yeah Dave, you've got i... (Below threshold)

Uh, yeah Dave, you've got it all figured out. Kerry is being helped by looking weak and crying about one negative ad after his buddies have been calling Bush a liar and deserter for the past year. Time to stop and take the medication again.

They could be doing more; t... (Below threshold)
Bill K:

They could be doing more; they could be calling him a drunk driver, a drug user, and a failed businessman. I mean, it has the added benefit of being true.

ION...It is almost... (Below threshold)


It is almost certain that Ben Ginsberg will now become a SwiftVets talking head, since he has resigned from the Bush campaign.

I look forward to his return as a cable news analyst.

I wrote about this whole dr... (Below threshold)

I wrote about this whole drama myself. though I was much more brief and just referred to him as a cotton candy ass. yours is a tad more cerebral :)

I like what Gator said. Max... (Below threshold)

I like what Gator said. Max Cleland is at the ranch now but could not give the letter directly to President Bush. And someone from the GOP has a letter to the vets. The lawyer with 2 clients has resigned leaving Bush's re-election committee. Now Bush can't accept that letter because it's illegal to interfer in the 527's. What a circus and it makes everyone look bad. This is so ridiculous.

What ever happened to the group "Senators against John Kerry?" Anybody know? Kerry really is not doing the right thing here and asking for demands for Bush to do something illegal. OH, and KERRY wants DONALD RUMSFIELD to step down from OFFICE. He is not the President, what right does he have to ask that of George Bush's CABINET???? AAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHH

BillK - "they coul... (Below threshold)

BillK -

"they could be calling him a drunk driver, a drug user, and a failed businessman"

You are missing something interesting here. Bush has HIMSELF said all those things and says they are his past, judge him on the present.

Kerry at the DNC said "I was in Viet Nam, vote for me." Why doesn't he run on his present, which is much better than his past, just as Bush's is?

I'm listening to Max Clelan... (Below threshold)

I'm listening to Max Cleland right now and I don't care if he's missing 3 limbs and is a decorated war veteran, I want to punch him in the mouth!! Blaming Bush for the ads??? GIVE ME A BREAK!!

I have to turn off CNN.


I suggested that the Presid... (Below threshold)

I suggested that the President invite them in out of the heat, offer them a glass of sweet tea, hand them a copy of the Constitution, then ask them if they're familiar with the First Amendment.

When they're done their tea, he should show them out, give them a copy of the Constitution, ask them to give it to John Kerry, and wish them a very pleasant day and thank them for their service.

LargeBill,You are ... (Below threshold)


You are certaintly entitled to your opinion in terms of "whining" but I see it playing out as being firm in his commitment to the american people and fighting these untrue charges. It increases his leadership standing and his "standing up to adversity" standing in the public.

Certaintly you would never see it that way being the partisan that you are - I understand.

Keep talking about it - please!


BTW, the first ammendment g... (Below threshold)

BTW, the first ammendment gives you the right to free speach not the right to have it repeated on every right wing media outlet in the world.


Dave, the best way to fight... (Below threshold)

Dave, the best way to fight untrue charges would be to release all his records for scrutiny.
And also figure out a way to be in Cambodia, ever, when he wasn't.

Mewling that others should stop questioning him, when HE told the different stories that make people question him, is stupid and weak.

SarahW,He did rele... (Below threshold)


He did release all of his records except for his medical records which he did exactly what GWB did have a reporter review it with his personal doctor so they could answer medical questions as an expert rather than as a lay person.

So the call to release all of his records just because he copied them on his website instead of releasing original copies to the SBVFT just because they do not believe that Kerry copied the records completely and accurately is patently a rediculous assertion.


Dave, You mi... (Below threshold)


You missed the entire point. Kerry comes across as weak compared to the president in the manner each has responded to these unregulated ads. There have been at least 50 books written by nuts this year whose main theme is "I hate Bush." Bush shrugs them off as the nuts they are. One critical book get written by a group of veterans and Kerry attempts to limit their First Ammendment rights. The same group of vets issue a couple of TV ads and all of a sudden Kerry is begging Bush to break the law and have contact with the 527 group. If Kerry were a strong leader he would have handled this in a way that would have caused it to go away. Instead he has responded in a way that has made it grow.

Dave, I'm not sure I unders... (Below threshold)

Dave, I'm not sure I understand what you're saying. You seem to be telling me that the SBVs have the right to say what they want to say, but the rest of us don't have the right to repeat it.

I'm curious now. Which people don't you want to have First Amendment rights?

BTW, the first ammendment g... (Below threshold)

BTW, the first ammendment gives you the right to free speach not the right to have it repeated on every right wing media outlet in the world.-Dave

The FEC begs to disagree with you, Dave

I also find it humorous that people of your ilk are so eager to exercise your Freedom of Speech yet wish to crush that right for anyone who disagrees with you.


Why are you so concerned about the First Amendment now, Dave?

Is it because people who are not marching in lockstep with Michael Moore and his ilk are finally using it?

Is it because the people like former Viet Nam PoW's and the Swift Boat veterans are not keeping quiet about Hanoi John's lies?

Is it because the gatekeepers in the MSM are no longer in control and people are finding out exactly who and what John Kerry REALLY is?

Honestly, watching and list... (Below threshold)

Honestly, watching and listening to the reports about John Waffles Kerry the past week or so has been quite funny.

Kerry actually has me laughing at how immature he can be when he doesn't get his way.

George, tell them to stop picking on me - I mean it George! They are not nice! Boo-Hoo...

I'm waiting for the headline in the NY Times next week.
Kerry Moves Into Jackson Ranch So Tito Can Hand Him A Tissue

The only way Kerry is getting elected is if he can find enough Bush Haters that will show up at the polls.

Let me clarify for you, eac... (Below threshold)

Let me clarify for you, each of you individually have the right to say anything you want and repeat anyone as much as you want, all I am saying is the SBVFT do not have the right to demand that they are repeated on every media outlet they want to be repeated on for free.

Fortunately for them they do not have to since they have lots of willing accomplices to spread their misinformation.

As for Michael Moore, he got plenty of people supporting and debunking his movie on all ends of the media spectrum.

As for LargeBill, Bush would have to address those multitude of books if the media gave them the 10's of millions of dollars of free media that the SBVFT have received from the RWM. Also remember the whole "blogging cycle was not in full bloom as it is here now in 2004 (yes it existed but it was not nearly as pervasive and was not taken as seriously).

I still contend that this whole controversy is a "he said-he said/I told you so" controversy beyond the partisans like me and you.

So draw and still no focus on GWB's "great plans" for the future.


Hee! Man, the Left is look... (Below threshold)
David C:

Hee! Man, the Left is looking desperate these days, but they're providing *great* comedy!

Kudos on the "I offer a draw!" finale - this is primo stuff!

Now now Dave.............<b... (Below threshold)
Bill from NYC:

Now now Dave.............
Now your fibbing!! (But that seems to be the rage for Dems these days) lol
The Washington Post has just said the other day that Kerry has not released all his records and only posted piecemeal pieces of the total body.
This mess is something Kerry should have stepped on weeks ago but did not (great crack staff there), but this is a mess of his own creation that he started many moons ago pissing off returning vets. Scars run deep, it seems nobody but nobody knew how deep they ran for those guys!!

And then Cheney said his da... (Below threshold)

And then Cheney said his daughter is gay and he supports gay rights.

Bill from NYC,That... (Below threshold)

Bill from NYC,

That is just being nitpicky from the WaPo and you, what I should have said is that he posted all relevant information on his website.

I know you all cannot accept that and feel like he has something to hide but that is something you will have to deal with.


Yeah, shame on you, Bill fr... (Below threshold)
David C:

Yeah, shame on you, Bill from NYC! Kerry posted all the *relevant* information! And we know that because he said so himself. And his word's not enough for you! I mean, the man's a war hero! A United States Senator, who owns a magic hat! Where's your magic hat, Bill? Shame!

BTW after reviewing this pa... (Below threshold)

BTW after reviewing this page on John Kerry's website, please let me know what he left off of his military record, it seems pretty complete to me.



That's the public record. W... (Below threshold)

That's the public record. What we want to see is the non-public stuff that he would have to sign the 180 release in order for us to scrutinize.

All he has to do is sign the form. I'm sure there's time in his day for that.

(And if I'm mistaken and this does represent his FULL record, not just the run-of-the-mill public stuff, then I'll happily eat my haute).

BTW after reviewi... (Below threshold)

BTW after reviewing this page on John Kerry's website, please let me know what he left off of his military record, it seems pretty complete to me

They ain't. Go here.


Dave, you're comments all t... (Below threshold)
Jim Price:

Dave, you're comments all through this post stick out like a sore thumb. I'll just pick on one of them:

"BTW after reviewing this page on John Kerry's website, please let me know what he left off of his military record, it seems pretty complete to me"

Now Dave, please enlighten us as to how you are qualified to know whether or not someone is holding information back. You looked at his website and you just know this?

If that's the case, I've got some ocean front property in Arizona I'd love to sell you. I'll send you a picture, and you can send me a check. That oughta meet with your approval, right?

Hey guys, T... (Below threshold)

Hey guys,

The military records and this Form 180 are nothing but a red herring. Having served 25 years in the Navy and having dealt with service records I can tell you there isn't going to be a smoking gun there. Kerry is unqualified for public office based on his actions, speeches, votes etc after Nam. Whether his Bronze or Silver Star were heroic or simply performing his duty is not a big deal 35 years later. If he wasn't from Massachusetts he wouldn't have been able to find enough socialists/borderline communists to vote for him for Senate.

Dave You s... (Below threshold)

Dave You seem to believe what Kerry has posted is gospel. Can you please explain why he had to pull 20 pages off the site in relation to Commander Peck? Can you explain why his websites history citing Cambodia has been amended?

Can you explain what has happened Rev. David Alston who was one of his band of brothers? He is nowhere to be found, just where in the world is Alston, do you know Dave?

Guess his page isn't the be all and end all is it?

Oh and please read this, Kerry says get back to the present, talk about current issues. Well here is one Kerry deals with. The suppression of truth, and his still raging hatred over Vietnam. And - by-the-way - how he, to this very day still sides with the Viet Cong.

Read it and weep Dave

LargeBill - I agree that th... (Below threshold)

LargeBill - I agree that there won't really be a smoking gun in his records. Just lots of little things that don't match the stories he's been telling. Kerry's a guy, who, as you say, by his actions, speeches, etc., doesn't deserve the Presidency. I happen to think that his bullshitter personality, the one that will make something up on the spot just to sound good, is what has lead him to a lot of these actions, speeches, etc., that you and I don't like. The Vietnam issue is just one of many examples. However, as Kerry made it his main selling point, it will quite naturally be the first one assaulted.

If you guys heard that Kerr... (Below threshold)

If you guys heard that Kerry said that it was a nice day outside and that he saw a weather forecast for rain later in the day you would say that he was taking both sides of the issue.

A lot of what you say are contradictions are little nuances that you blow up into big deals.

Instead of focusing on the big flip-flops.

I am against nation building, I am for nation building.

We are going into Iraq to get rid of WMD, We are going into Iraq to liberate people from Sadam

We do not need a 9/11 commission, I support the 9/11 commission

Condi will not testify in front of the 9/11 commission, Condi will testify in front of the 9/11 commission

These tax cuts will pay for themselves and will not increase the deficit, Essentially (and I am paraphrasing now) deficits do not matter and/or the deficit will be cut in half (from the highest level ever in our history) in 4 years

I want to leave Gay Marriage to the states, We need a ammendment to the constitution outlawing Gay marriage

I want to unite this country, Obviously he has divided this country more than anytime in recent history...just look at the rhetoric on this site as an example.


Maybe he has a more sane re... (Below threshold)

Maybe he has a more sane reason for posting PDF copies of his complete military record on his website for convenience of the american people to view them and maybe he just has a little distrust of the RWM to doctor his records if he allows unfettered access to them directly from the DOD.


Now that's weak, Dave... (Below threshold)
Jim Price:

Now that's weak, Dave

I mean, maybe Howard Dean's warcry on TV didn't really happen- The RNC "faked it" with digital samplers and broke into every newsfeed that day...

Maybe Jimmy Hoffa's not really dead...he's in that bar with Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, and James Dean.

Maybe you put people on a way pedestal too often. I may be slamming Kerry in here today, but rest assured one thing, pal: Bush aint no saint either. No politician is.

Don't you have a better reason for supporting this loser other than just hating Bush?

How 'bout this, Bush Lied a... (Below threshold)

How 'bout this, Bush Lied about his military record.

...The facts are I served 600 days in the Air Force..." GWB 7/13/99

Bush served in the Texas Air National Guard during Vietnam War. The Air Force only considers National Guard members of the Air Force when they recieve pilot training not for their overall Guard Service.

PTTNG (People for Truth about the Texas National Guard - a future 527 to be constituted).

How can we trust him now!


Dave Listen UP... (Below threshold)

Dave Listen UP

I try to friendly and all but I have one basic rule if you want to comment on one of my posts.

If you want to make an claim/allegation then you better back it up.

You said Kerry released his whole military record. I gave you a link showing you had not. Further the Washington post called for him to do that just yesterday.

Then after I give you the link you still say he released his whole record.

Homey don't play that.

Now I see you making more allegations about Bush.... That's fine and all but I expect some links to back it up or you are talking out your hat.

You can get on here all day long and disagree with OPINIONS, fact however are not up for debate.

I trust in the future if you have a claim to make you will provide a link.



Dave, it would appear that ... (Below threshold)

Dave, it would appear that you believe the statement "ribbons, medals are absolutely the same thing," but you would never allow for someone in the Air National Guard to say "I was in the Air Force."

Seems kinda inconsistent to me. Just sayin'.






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