Doing a Torricelli
The latest meme spreading across the blogsophere, and now the mass media as well, is the idea that John Kerry will get replaced at the convention.
James Ridgeway of The Village Voice prays for this:
With the air gushing out of John Kerry’s balloon, it may be only a matter of time until political insiders in Washington face the dread reality that the junior senator from Massachusetts doesn’t have what it takes to win and has got to go. As arrogant and out of it as the Democratic political establishment is, even these pols know the party’s got to have someone to run against George Bush. They can’t exactly expect the president to self-destruct into thin air.
What to do? Look for the Dem biggies, whoever they are these days, to sit down with the rich and arrogant presumptive nominee and try to persuade him to take a hike. Then they can return to business as usualÃ¢€”resurrecting John Edwards, who is still hanging around, or staging an open convention in Boston, or both.
If things proceed as they are, the dim-bulb Dem leaders are going to be very sorry they screwed Howard Dean.
The dim bulbs are those who think party leaders actually pick presidential candidates several decades into the primary era.
Hugh Hewitt takes a somewhat different approach.
Dems know he’s a loser. But can anything be done?
Who knows? Don’t bother looking up the rules governing nominations. There were rules in Florida, and the Florida Supreme Court tore those up when Gore needed help. There were rules in New Jersey, but when Torricelli flamed, the New Jersey Supreme Court tossed those aside. There were rules in California, and three judges ordered a halt to the recall that only went forward because the luck of an en banc draw brought sanity to the review panel.
No, the rules won’t stop Kerry’s recall. Only Teddy can, and the weight of the senior senator from Massachusetts shouldn’t be underestimated. The Kerry campaign is his last hurrah, and the convention’s in Boston, for goodness sake. What kind of a reception would follow a party that tossed Kerry onto the tracks?
Hewitt, too, invokes the image of Howard Dean as a spark for this effort.
I seriously question the premises on which all this speculation is based. John Kerry isn’t the world’s best candidate, to be sure. But, then, neither is George W. Bush. Both have problems–different ones to be sure–getting their message out. Bush is more of a “regular guy” and connects well with people but is usually rather inarticulate. Kerry is a more polished speaker but comes across as effite and, well, odd. Still, the two men are virtually tied in the polls and have been for months. Bush’s negatives are dangerously high for an incumbent seeking re-election. So are the “going in the wrong direction” results.
Further, Kerry has invested millions of his own (okay, his wife’s) money in this race. He’s not going to bow out like Toricelli. And Toricelli’s problem was that he was a criminal; Kerry’s baggage is much less serious. So, for someone else to run, the convention delegates–the overwhelming majority of whom were Kerry backers elected to nominate Kerry–would have to decide to thumb their noses at the Democratic nominating electorate and betray Kerry. That’s not going to happen.