james campion.com

Aquarian Weekly 6/2/04 REALITY CHECK


John KerryThe following is the continuation of a conversation conducted over the phone on 5/18 between the author and this space’s most reliably inscrutable Republican snitch Georgetown.

james campion: Okay, now let’s get back to this presidential campaign. How much money will Bush have to fight?

Georgetown: I don’t know. Could he have $100 million by July or August? Sure. It won’t matter. Nothing matters now but Iraq. He brought this upon himself. It means everything. It’s a referendum on this administration. It’s a fucking shame.

jc: But Kerry cannot compete financially.

GT: What? He’s loaded. His wife is an international bank. He’s fine. Her money saved him in Iowa. It makes no sense that he’s trying to circumvent the campaign finance rules by holding off his nomination at the convention. It’s stupid politics too. He’ll get a bump out of that thing if it goes as a news story and the networks carry it. If it’s a political rally in Boston, he won’t get nearly the coverage and no bump. He’s taking bad advice. He needs a “Good-Time Hour” attack. This is what those things are now. He needs to show a warmer side on a larger stage. His people know it, but they’re obsessed with money over there. It’s bullshit politics.

jc: This election as of right now, as all incumbent presidential campaigns, is about the president. But eventually Kerry has to stand for something other than “I’m not Bush.”

GT: I’m not so sure, but okay.

jc: Historically Kerry is a better one-on-one campaigner than he is on a larger scale stump. I’m hearing his inability to conduct a massive national campaign will compromise his efforts, so he needs to stay close until the debates. Kerry’s twice the debater Gore was and despite a horribly boring performance from Gore in 2000 and a distinct rally from Bush on the debate front, everyone knows the president’s ability to extemporize in these settings is awful. Kerry has to stay close enough to pummel him in the debates, or it’s a crapshoot, despite the Iraq results.

GT: Fair points, but I would say, above all, if Bush doesn’t raise his approval ratings above 50% by Labor Day this will be a dogfight and that does not bode well for a mediocre campaigner like Bush. He had the advantage of playing from in front and outside the fray in 2000.

jc: Where he earned the apt nickname, Captain Shoe-in.

GT: It’s the exact opposite now. No one, despite what they tell you from Karl Rove on down has a fucking clue how the president will respond. He’s surprised everyone before. It looks like he’ll have to do it again.

jc: Let’s nail down the battleground states. For the sake of this discussion I see 18 currently. Listing in alphabetical order, they are; Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Colorado, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Louisiana, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Take me through them from a White House/GOP perspective.

GT: I hate doing this in May. See me in August. jc: Never mind. This is about when Gore screwed up in 2000 and Bush sr. started to slide in 1992. They both waited too long.

GT: Clinton won in August of ’92 when Perot dropped out. Gore never competed. Never.

jc: Granted, but Bush could have crushed Clinton that summer. He did not respect the campaign. This Bush does. He just completed a tour of Ohio, Missouri and Michigan. And I see Kerry has dumped a ton of TV money into Colorado. He’s been in the Midwest for weeks. It’s go time. Talk to me.

“It’s as simple as this; Kerry leads or is in the ballpark in these Midwest states. If that is the case this fall, he will be president with or without Florida.

GT: For the sake of argument, and it’s very early, mind you, I see Arizona as more of a done deal for the White House. I think the Kerry people were banking too much on how much McCain hates Bush, and make no mistake, he has not forgiven him for South Carolina, but Arizona is not a battleground state. The White House will carry it.

jc: Are you talking about all that pro choice stuff during the 2000 primary after McCain took New Hampshire?

GT: All the stuff. I know people who as recently as Easter have it solid that McCain would not mind seeing Bush crash and burn on a personal level, although I give McCain a ton of credit. He’s never been interested in bettering his career by playing statistical politics. I know one thing; he despises Kerry’s Viet Nam flip-flops more than his grudge with Bush. So it’s a toss up on a personal basis, but it doesn’t matter. I see McCain as a key ally in Arizona, and maybe the whole campaign itself. Believe me, that’s why we have Campaign Finance laws now. The Bush people saw this coming. They appeased McCain for Arizona. It’s going Republican in November.

jc: So they’ll use McCain to circumvent Kerry’s heroic soldier stance.

GT: You bet your ass.

jc: Forget New Hampshire. Kerry is not losing New Hampshire. And Missouri is solid Democrat if Gephardt is the VP nominee. I would say Michigan is also in jeopardy of going Democrat as a result.

GT: Conceivably. I’d count on Missouri, but not Michigan per se. We’re really worried about Ohio. You’re talking a miniscule Bush victory in 2000 there and they’re a bankrupt state with thousands of lost jobs. Bush shouldn’t waste any money in Ohio. He’s done there. Michigan is a toss up with Gephardt or not.

jc: It’s always a toss up.

GT: The most unpredictable national election state ever.

jc: Scale of one to ten, ten being a solid yes, where does the White House stand on Florida right now?

GT: I’m going to say five for you right now, but my gut feeling is more toward seven or eight in November. Do not underestimate the Bush political machine down there. Is the governor working it? Yes.

jc: I think Ohio, Michigan and Missouri, not Florida, will carry the day in November.

GT: It’s as simple as this; Kerry leads or is in the ballpark in these Midwest states. If that is the case this fall, he will be president with or without Florida. If Bush wins Florida, but loses those two or three of those states he’s toast. I don’t think the White House thinks Florida is a concern this time around, and I’d have to agree.

jc: How are the Bush people seeing this campaign, as an aggressive fight or a stabilizing force. In other words…

GT: In other words do they see it as a rabid defense of the prize or a strong hold against a wild card candidate?

jc: Right.

GT: I think they’ll start off stabilizing the fight. They already have. They’ll paint Kerry every which way to Sunday as a loose canon, but eventually these guys have to get down and dirty with Kerry and bring out the anti-liberal guns, or they will not win. You see I don’t view this campaign as “too close to call”. This is Kerry’s to lose now. I think the president has to get ugly soon. Bring the fear. Fear will keep Bush in work. Fear of the unknown is the best medicine. Saved Johnson in ’64 and Truman in ’48. Poll the fear factor. Then you’ll see competent results.

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