Saturday, April 17, 2004

Tell It Like It Is
In the current Atlantic Monthly, Howard Dean's chief pollster Paul Maslin tells the inside story of the implosion of the Dean campaign. This week, The Atlantic's website features a must-read interview with Maslin that offers more insight into the campaign's rise and fall. In the most poignant quote of the interview, Maslin says, "I remember I called up [Joe] Trippi one day. It must have been two days after the Fourth of July, right after we busted the numbers for second-quarter fund-raising. I said, 'Joe, you know what this is, don't you? This isn't Jimmy Carter or George McGovern or Jerry Brown or Ross Perot or any of the analogies people are making. You know who this is?' He said, 'Yeah, I know exactly who. It's Andrew Jackson.' And he was right. If we'd really pulled this off, you'd have the equivalent of that scene when Andrew Jackson becomes President and the people just break down the fence at the White House and say, 'This is our place.' That's what we were trying to do. I think somewhere, somehow, someway, someone may do that. I think John Kerry could be a step in that direction."

I have my doubts, Paul, but your mouth to God's ear anyhow.

Recommended reading: Also in the current Atlantic, Joshua Green writes about the delicate art of being a funny candidate. So far, that's one thing Kerry isn't--but he needs to get at it. Showing a sense of humor is critical to helping people feel that a candidate is warm and fuzzy enough to vote for.

Elsewhere, The Onion may be onto something, with a story headlined "New Negative Campaign Ads Blast Voters Directly." Far from being a joke, their Kerry ad seems pretty appropriate to me: "In the past four years, America's national debt has reached an all-time high. And who's responsible? You are. You're sitting there eating a big bowl of Fritos, watching TV, and getting fatter as the country goes to hell. You ought to be ashamed of yourself. . . . The Medicare drug bill is a triumph of right-wing ideology masquerading as moderate reform. The pharmaceutical-drug and insurance industries are tickled pink. Guess who's paying for it? You. Congratulations, moron. I'm John Kerry and I approved this message."

What's wrong with that, exactly?

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