Kerry?s conundrum is that he has negligible pro-Kerry support. He has anti-Bush voters. That?s enough to keep him in the game, but that alone cannot?and will not?push him across the finish line come November.
Depending on which pollster you believe, somewhere between 42-46% of Americans absolutely, positively, will-not-under-any-circumstances, even if their heads were in a vise, vote for Bush. That?s a sizeable base with which to start. And it would seem that Kerry only needs to pick up a few points to win, and could even position himself for a romp.
Unfortunately for Kerry, he?s barely known by the electorate, yet at least 40% of voters could never pull the lever for him. But even if that figure were much lower, Kerry would still be in trouble.
Just ask Bob Dole.
Going up against a man who had already been responsible for a still-to-increase cottage industry of Regnery books and who had two years earlier been the main cause of his party losing control of Congress after 40 years, Dole should have been if great shape. Clinton was hated by the right, and Dole was an affable chap who never really riled any ?anti-? sentiment.
Trouble is, Dole didn?t spark much sentiment of any kind.
And the Massachusetts liberal is, to borrow a phrase, ?literally in the same boat.?
Proving that money cannot buy everything, the billionaire?s spouse has an utter lack of either humor or charm. Without a personality to attract supporters, Kerry is forced to garner votes through his policy positions. Which is where things get sticky.
Where does Kerry stand on Iraq? Depends on the day. On the overall war on terror, he spouts pleasant-sounding platitudes about getting more international cooperation and making better use of intelligence. But how? Not once has Kerry laid out a clear blueprint, nor should anyone expect one.
Counterintuitively, Kerry is worse for the wear for not having clawed his way to a primary victory. He was not battle-tested in the sense of scrapping for support through good old-fashioned stump speeches and street fighting. He won because he was the best-organized candidate who didn?t implode.
Kerry came out of the primaries a survivor, not a winner. And unless Bush crashes?spectacularly?in the next three months, Kerry won?t be one in November, either.
Joel Mowbray, who got his start with Townhall.com, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.
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