Alex's Outlook

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

NH Primary

CNN says Kerry's leading easily, with Dean a distant second and Edwards and Clark battling for a distant third. Not bad, but it could have been better. For us Republicans, I mean. Kerry was pretty much going to win, so I'm not crying about that. Dean could have used a respectable second-place finish, but he lost by 15 points instead. Remarkable. Losing by that much will hurt his campaign even more than it has already suffered.

It's fortunate that Edwards didn't do better, but a third-place finish isn't too bad. Joe Lieberman lost badly as expected, and maybe he will call it quits before he wastes anybody else's money. He lost the race as soon as he went pro-Bush on Iraq. (He was the only candidate who didn't waffle his support for Iraq and Bush.)

His Fraudulency the fired general who voted Republican since Nixon Wesley Clark's fourth-place finish was a fiasco. I prognosticated below that Kerry's win was a major blow for Clark. At least it's gratifying that Clark's naked opportunism has failed. A fourth-place finish by Clark seems to make this race Kerry's to lose and Edwards' to win.

My crestfallen-ness at Dean's implosion has ebbed away: Kerry, I've decided, is almost as unelectable as Dean. Kerry, as it happens, is Massachusetts' liberal senator; Ted Kennedy is more conservative. I don't think Kerry, as a Mass. senator, has ever faced a real political race in his life, except possibly for his first Senate primary (as it is with almost all senators). He has to be one of the worst public speakers in the race. As William Saletan of Slate reports:

At first, Kerry bounced across the stage and arched back his shoulders, letting his jacket slip off with a smile you'd expect to see from a stripper. But soon enough, he tightened up. As Kennedy entertained the crowd, Kerry sat in the background with his fingers clasped together, sucking his lower lip and patting his hair nervously to make sure it was still in place. Just before Kerry rose to speak, his wife placed both hands on his shoulders, trying to impart calm and strength. Hundreds of fans waved Kerry signs and applauded his every word. He wasn't there to inspire them. They were there to inspire him.

Physically, Kerry's repertoire is painfully limited. He thrusts his index finger at the audience in an overhead arc again and again, as though launching a projectile. He seems to be trying not to animate his thoughts but to expel them. Above the neck, nothing but his mouth moves. If you showed anyone a video of Kerry with his lips blacked out, they'd never know he was speaking. On television, it often seems as though that Kerry is looking at you but not seeing you. In person, you realize that he is looking at you but not seeing you. His words are even more stilted, particularly when he ruins a good line by adding prepositional phrases?"in this country ? as a fundamental commitment ? to all our citizens ? regardless of circumstance"?until everyone is silently begging him to stop.

Edwards would be a lot tougher, but after some thought I don't see even him winning a single southern state (except Florida obviously, and in my humble opinion Florida 2000 was the last stand of Democrats in the South, Florida included). But Edwards would be strong in Rust Belt swing states like Ohio; Kerry wouldn't. Kerry has his medals, yeah, but he also voted to cut FBI and Dept of Defense funding and has compiled one of the most liberal voting records in the Senate.


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