IS KERRY NEXT?
Howie Kurtz wonders if John Kerry will get hammered by the press now that he’s the frontrunner again:
When John Kerry beat Howard Dean in the New Hampshire primary last Tuesday, former White House spokeswoman Dee Dee Myers declared on MSNBC: “Now Kerry is going to get the Dean treatment — an unfair beating.”
The next morning, the Drudge Report was posting pictures suggesting that Kerry may have used Botox — and audio from a radio interview in which he denied any such thing. The Botox yarn also hit the front page of the Washington Times.
But Kerry may develop some new worry lines if the media launch a wave of Dean-style coverage against the newly crowned front-runner. And Dean’s aides are pushing the notion that the press has failed to aggressively investigate the Massachusetts senator’s record.
Kerry got a taste of the rougher treatment last year, when the preseason pundits initially cast him as the Democratic candidate to beat. The Globe questioned whether he had fostered the false impression that he was Irish-American and whether he had misled a reporter about his prostate cancer. Other papers carried what Kennedy calls “absolutely ridiculous” items about Kerry getting $75 haircuts and ordering a Philly cheese steak with Swiss cheese.
A New Republic cover story (and pieces in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal) laid out some areas of potential vulnerability. Among other things, Kerry once voted against the death penalty for terrorists, opposed mandatory sentences for drug dealers who sell to children and supported a 50-cent gas-tax hike. (Plus, he was Michael Dukakis’s lieutenant governor.) A front-pageWashington Post report challenged his substantial fundraising from lobbyists.
There are also financial questions, including Kerry’s acceptance of $130,000 in speaking fees during his first Senate term and his $21,000 profit in a 1986 real estate deal in which he put down no money.
Unless there are some upsets tomorrow night, this is essentially moot with respect to the primaries. Kerry’s momentum will be all but unstoppable, as there will be no one left with the ability to raise the funds necessary to compete.
While it might be moot for this round, it certainly could have an effect for the general election (see your Bush v. Kerry post above). I think the war hero image is going to be tarnished in the long run.