Tuesday, August 17, 2004

"I Know Where He Stands"

Here’s another story about more undecided voters in another battleground state – this time Pennsylvania – who are less than thrilled with Bush but are even less thrilled about John Kerry.

Elizabeth Burnosky is a registered Democrat who voted for President Bush in 2000, opposes his policy on Iraq and calls Senator John Kerry ‘a little wussy boy.’ There may be no greater commodity in presidential politics than a voter like Burnosky - an undecided woman with no firm party allegiance.

’Probably for Bush, maybe not’ said the 60-year-old retiree, standing outside her suburban Philadelphia home, squeezing rusty pliers around the stem of a stubborn water tap.

Call her conflicted.

’I'd like to vote against Bush,’ she says, ‘but I don't know whether Kerry would keep us safe.’

Fast-forward to Dick Morris’ column today:

If Americans feel that they are at war, they will rally to Bush. By a strong majority, they feel that he is the best candidate to keep America safe, prosecute the War on Terror, and — even on his worst days — stabilize Iraq. But if they feel that the war is over or winding down, they are likely to vote for Kerry. By similar majorities, most surveys indicate that voters trust him more to create jobs [I would strongly dispute this one – Americans do not vote for tax-raisers], help the economy, lower health-care costs, stabilize Medicare and Social Security, reduce prescription drug prices, help improve education and protect the environment.

Kerry based his candidacy on four months and eleven days chugging up and down the Mekong Delta – a tangential challenge to the President on his foreign policy turf – instead of declaring victory in the war on terror, following through on the past six months’ aping of Howard Dean’s anti-war agitating, and turning the page back to a laser-focus on “kitchen table” issues – i.e. Democrat turf. And look where it’s getting him:

’All he talks about is Vietnam. Vietnam. Vietnam. Vietnam. Big deal,’ says Burnosky, chopping at the air with her pliers. ‘I still want to know who's going to protect us today.’

That may be Bush, maybe not. ‘I know where he stands,’ she says, ‘even when I don't like his stance.’

"I know where he stands.” Nobody – nobody – can say that about John Kerry. Not even hard-core Democrats, as the growing partisan media grumbling about his floundering over his Cambodia fable is beginning to indicate.

And that includes domestic issues as well. Take a look at this:

Democrats traditionally win a majority of votes cast by women, but successful Republican candidates manage to narrow the gap while maintaining their advantages among males.

Bush promised major education reforms in 2000 in a poll-tested appeal to female voters, and he got 43% of their vote compared with 54% for Democrat Al Gore.

In 1996, President Clinton beat Republican Bob Dole among women by a whopping 16 percentage points, 54-38.

Polls this year show Kerry with a single-digit lead among women. [my emphasis]

Name a single domestic issue with which John Kerry is indelibly linked. He’s got an issue index longer than John Dillinger’s inseam, but is there a single one that you look at and think “yep, that’s John Kerry”? Nope. Partly this is because of his comprehensively lackluster Senate career, but I think it’s that he hasn’t bothered to isolate one or two or three signature domestic issues to champion because he took ALL of them for granted, thinking it safe to try and take Bush’s national security strengths away from him. Which is why he’s gone out of his way to tout his purported expertise on intelligence, and is getting his ass kicked up and down by the Republicans over his 76% absenteeism from public meetings of the Senate Intel Committee (and the public meetings are the ones he’d be more likely to attend, since he could be seen at them; and he isn’t releasing his attendance records at the classified meetings, is he?) and his repeated attempts to hack intelligence funding by the billions that even his fellow hard-lefties couldn’t stomach.

End result? He’s failed to displace Bush as a wartime leader, and swing voters are preoccupied with national and homeland security.

Still doubtful? Check out this quote:

A few blocks away, Pattie Remmey, 47, comes to her door and tells campaign workers for Allyson Schwartz that she'll vote for their candidate - a Democrat running for Congress in this swing district.

Remmey opposes the war in Iraq, thinks Bush has broken his promises on education and supports unfettered stem cell research, even after hearing Laura Bush's speech.

’Funny thing is, I can't quite tell you I'm voting against Bush,’ Remmey says. ‘It's hard to change. Check back with me in two months.’

If the GOP puts on the convention in NYC that they can and should, the aforementioned Dick Morris’ prediction, issued on Sean Hannity’s show Monday, of a high single-digit lead for the President by mid-September stands a very good chance of being realized. And if it does, forget two months – this election will already be in the can.