Second tier problems

Posted: Apr 01, 2004 12:00 AM

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- I believe the Democrats are onto something. I believe they have devised a very clever plan to stop Sen. John Francois Kerry's decline in the polls.

According to news reports, they are checking him in at an undisclosed hospital for tendon surgery on his shoulder. That will keep him out of sight for a while. After that, they can try knee surgery. He has a record of knee injuries. Then there are his allergies. Off and on they can check him into an allergy sanitarium.

When he actually does appear on the campaign trail, if his penchant for he-man boasts and embarrassing fibs again sinks him in the polls, he can always be briefly hospitalized for "periodic checkups." His medical records indicate that he suffers enough additional maladies that periodic checkups are completely understandable.

Essentially, the Democrats are settling on a campaign strategy not unlike the Republicans' famous "front-porch campaign" that worked so well for the dolt Warren G. Harding in 1920. The goal is to keep the dud candidate remote from voter scrutiny. Divert the press until the candidate's polling numbers stabilize.

Right now, Kerry's polling numbers are wilting against President George W. Bush, and so it is off to shoulder surgery. Actually, no one should be surprised that the Massachusetts Braggart's popularity drops the more the electorate sees of him. He is an absurd figure. His campaign was dead in the water late in 2003 and only picked up steam when Democratic primary voters noted that their frontrunner, Dr. Howard Dean of unhappy memory, was even more absurd.

Now, the French-looking senator is again in the public eye, and what that eye perceives it obviously does not like: the macho candidate ostentatiously purchasing an athletic supporter (size large!), the vacationing skier taking spills on the slopes and bellowing, "I don't fall down."

Kerry made this silly statement before blaming a Secret Service agent for his tumble and cussing at him. Gentlemen do not act like that. In fact, gentlemen do not bring down on themselves all the ridicule Kerry has provoked by objecting to being referred to as "French-looking." Some White House wag playfully asserted that Kerry "looks French," and Kerry very foolishly threw another of his famous fits, portraying himself as the victim of White House dirty tricks.

Ever since, the nation's wits have been teasing Kerry about his Frenchness. Doubtless he will provide more opportunities for further ridicule -- unless the Democrats can keep him in hospitals and clinics.

The reason Kerry is faltering in the polls is that the Massachusetts Braggart is a colossal phony. He has always been a colossal phony, and that is one reason he has never made it out of Massachusetts. He is a second-tier candidate.

A graver worry for the Democrats than Kerry's fall in the polls is the fact that in 2004 -- as in 1992 -- every Democrat seeking the nomination was second-tier. In 1992, the first-tier candidates feared Bush I. By 2004, it appears the Democrats do not really have a front tier candidate.

John Fund, the insightful political observer from The Wall Street Journal, believes this is because the Democrats are dominated by narrow angry ideologues -- for instance, the feminists and the environmentalists. Another reason for the paucity of Democratic presidential talent is that serious presidential contenders come from the governor's mansions. For the first time in decades, the governor's mansions of the four largest states in the nation are inhabited by Republicans.

Thus, the amused political pundits of the nation can anticipate an agreeably comic campaign from the chap whom we now call the Democrats' "presumptive" presidential nominee. To those of you who hooted in joy when Sen. Jean Francois theatrically purchased that jock strap, may I say you ain't seen nothin' yet.

The only damper I can foresee on the proceedings might be the arrival of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton on the ticket. She would not inspire laughter either as vice presidential nominee or at the top of the ticket. But then with her vast political background and national following, she more closely approximates a first-tier than a second-tier candidate. Is it possible that just as a Clinton put the hex on a Bush in 1992, a Clinton might put the hex on a Bush in 2004?