One Line Campaign
Jack O’Toole contends that John Kerry isn’t getting much traction (this, despite being essentially even with a wartime president months before the party primaries) is because he hasn’t come up with a bumper sticker reason for firing President Bush:
How much longer can we get away with offering essentially disconnected criticisms of Mr. Bush and his administration while the other side is going directly at John Kerry with a coherent message about his character and policies that, if communicated effectively, will make our guy unelectable? How much longer can we play checkers while they’re playing chess?
I don’t pretend to know exactly what our negative critique should be. But I do know that you can’t unseat a president without one. And I’m beginning to wonder whether waiting until the convention to unveil ours — which I suspect is the current plan — is really the wisest course. (At this point in 1980, for example, I already knew that Jimmy Carter was “weak.” And by this time in ’92, I knew that George Bush, Sr. was “out of touch” — that he just didn’t understand or care about the lives of people like me. What, thematically speaking, is wrong with this President Bush? I really couldn’t tell you.)
In a separate post, he attributes this to InstaPundit:
Each and every day, Glenn quite skillfully uses his site to weave the right side of the blogosphere into a coherent, compelling whole, a narrative of conservative ideas and opinion. In short, a message. And despite our signal successes — the professional-level political and policy analysis being done by some, the potent partisan anger that’s bracingly channeled by others — the left side of Blogdom still doesn’t have anything quite like an Instapundit.
What’s especially interesting is that Glenn isn’t even a conservative in most senses of the word. Further, while he’s wildly successful at what he does, he doesn’t have the impact on swing voters–who are really all that matter in the end–that any number of mainstream journalists do.
Ogged, noting that the “Bush is stupid” meme hasn’t seemed to do the trick, suggests an interesting alternative:
HereÃ¢€™s my nomination: George Bush doesnÃ¢€™t play by the rules. From the Iraq war, to the South Carolina primary against McCain, to the outing of Valerie Plame, to putting political hacks into career civil service positions, to not holding enough press conferences, to refusing to release records, to his National Guard serviceÃ¢€¦all of these are examples of not playing by the rules. *** And we should also keep in mind all the ongoing investigations of Republicans. Every trickle of news about any of them will feed the Ã¢€œnot playing by the rulesÃ¢€ beast. Having a counter to the Ã¢€œboldÃ¢€/Ã¢€œstrong leaderÃ¢€/Ã¢€œdecisiveÃ¢€ persona lets us shift the debate to facts and outcomes, which are overwhelmingly in our favor.
I’d note that the Republicans tried that one against Bill Clinton with little apparent success.
I agree that something simple is the key to defeating an incumbent or, really, selling yourself. While the Democrats need to come up with a one-liner about why Bush should be replaced, they would be well served to come up with one about why Kerry should be president. Kerry won the nomination by not being Howard Dean. I don’t think he can win the presidency by not being George W. Bush.