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April 8, 2004

Memo to Democrats: Don't Expect Much from Kerry

John P. Snyder

As I listened to Sen. John F. Kerry give a speech recently, it occurred to me that he is the modern day version of Thurston B. Howell, the marooned millionaire on the '60s sitcom Gilligan's Island. A lovable lug, Mr., Howell was rich, condescending and arrogant, much like John Kerry, without the lovable part.

When Howard Dean was riding high in the Democratic primary, Senator Kerry's campaign was regarded as dead in the water. Too liberal and too dull was the general consensus. Not much has changed, except when Howard Dean's candidacy went down in flames, Mr. Kerry was what was left (No pun intended!)for the Democrats to nominate.

Senator Kerry has existed quite nicely for more than 25 years in the kissey-faced world of the extreme liberal politics of Massachusetts. In doubt now is whether he can appeal to Middle America, more moderate-to-conservative territory.

Right now, his campaign just isn't going anywhere. The recent news regarding the so-called "jobless recovery" was quite a dagger to the heart of the Kerry message. The additional 300,000 jobs added in March, and the forecast for even more job growth in the coming months is good news for America, bad news for Senator Kerry.

While Senator Kerry was taking bows for winning the nomination, by default really, the Bush team was killing him with effective ads in states expected to be highly contested. The Republicans have defined him as a tax raiser and a waffler, a badge of honor in Massachusetts, perhaps, but not in the rest of the country.

How weak is he? Consider that he is being pressed to announce his running mate by May 1. Democrats know he is not strong enough to carry it alone until September. Watching Senator Kerry drone on night after night won't help his cause. Having Ted Kennedy speak up for you won't appeal to the masses either.

This opens up another problem for Senator Kerry. How weak is the Democratic bench when their "dream ticket" includes a Republican, as in John McCain of Arizona? Talkmeister Rush Limbaugh started this possibility, mostly in jest, because when Senator McCain was lying around the "Hanoi Hilton" as a prisoner of war, John Kerry was organizing anti-war marches with Jane Fonda and accusing American GI's of unspeakable war crimes.

Like any war, the war in Iraq has peaks and valleys. It would seem unlikely that President Bush would run his campaign amid daily reports of American casualties. The media would use that as a club on his head. By the fall, our military will reside in safe bases and discontinue patrols into unsafe areas. The work in Iraq will continue, but without Americans casualties.

Liberals are breathlessly awaiting Senator Kerry's blueprint for America. They expect a courageous stand for liberal principles and long to see them implemented: higher taxes, bigger social initiatives, free tuition and health care, strict environmental laws and trade protections. Should he ever take a stand, he would endorse all of that?

But he can't be truthful and get elected. He can be critical of the Bush administration all he wants, but his solutions won't win him the election. Hate for George Bush isn't enough to win.

Loyal Democrats should prepare themselves now for the disappointment to follow.

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