I know I sound pessimistic, but I’m trying not to get carried away with the increasingly shrill level of punditry to which voters will be subjected right up until the opening bell tomorrow night. The Republicans have set their incredibly disciplined and cutthroat spin machine to the task of raising the expectations for Kerry’s performance very high and, as is appropriate for the most incompetent president to hold the White House in the modern age, lowering the expectations for Bush as far below the median as possible. It’s just one of many gross distortions that the conservative influence has managed to effect this election season, all of them at the cost of an honest and truthful campaign dialogue.
Don’t Call It a Comeback
Setting all of that aside, I think there’s something inherently flawed with the idea that a Kerry comeback is possible. That’s partly because Bush-Cheney 2004 has done such a good job of frightening the public into the idea that electing Kerry is tantamount to inviting another horrific attack on our shores, as well as practically convincing them that Osama bin Laden is a Kerry-Edwards 2004 strategist.
But it’s also partly because the American public, in this climate of terrorist fear, may have a hard time buying the idea of a leader who only comes to life when his back is up against the wall. Bush and his handlers, through cunning and deceit, have successfully portrayed Kerry as weak and without conviction. I happen to believe that’s an incorrect assessment of Kerry’s worthiness as a leader — to me, there’s no question John Kerry has what it takes to keep this country safe, in far greater measures than Bush. It’s just that my cynical side can’t see an American public that bought into that false impression to begin with being open-minded enough to root for someone who only finds his fight at the very end. I absolutely hope I’m proven completely wrong after tomorrow night.