In the art and science of running a successful campaign, candidate discipline is right up at the top of the list of things required to succeed. Bill Clinton, while perhaps the least disciplined President we’ve ever had, was a master of campaign discipline. If it took a note on the wall saying “It’s the economy stupid” to keep him on track, so be it. Kerry has no such discipline.
Having no real challenge in the primary, Kerry’s lack of self-control did not stop his quest for the nomination as it would have in a normal year. Now, with the Swift Boat Vets giving Kerry his first real test on the national stage, Kerry’s response has been both undisciplined and frankly, bizarre. After watching his behavior for the last few days, he appears to be losing control of his campaign and perhaps even his own behavior. Lacking a clear and concise strategy for dealing with the issue and perhaps lacking a clear and concise story, Kerry has left his campaign message and resorted to rather erratic tactics.
First he called Bob Dole and asked Dole to denounce his own comments critical of Kerry. Certainly Kerry knew -or should have known- that news of the call would get out. Rather than help Kerry, it gave Dole an opportunity to expand his criticisms.
Not content with embarrassing himself by being shunned by Bob Dole, Senator Kerry placed a technically illegal call to one of the Swift Boat Vets to see if he could get the Vet to come to his side. Rather than winning the Vets approval, a report of that phone call makes Kerry look both clueless and desperate.
When the late night phone calls failed to win over his detractors, Kerry lost all control. Now he’s taking a page out of Michael Moore’s playbook – see previous Wizbang coverage [Kerry Buddies To Visit Bush Ranch].
What exactly Kerry hopes to gain by this modern version of “Roger and Me” is unclear. Is he trying to shame the President? Is he hoping for video of his people being pushed away by Secret Service agents?
Remember- at this point in the campaign Kerry should be trying to look Presidential. The voters, rather than seeing a strong leader, are seeing a rather odd man sending his lackeys to grovel at the gates of power. The “Roger and Me” shtick might be fine for Michael Moore badgering the head of GM but Kerry wants to be leader of the free world. So far, he is looking woefully un-Presidential.
Perhaps even more disturbing is what it says about the man and his ability to lead. Kerry has said repeatedly that his skills of persuasion would be strong enough to get Russia, France and Germany to do what they have repeatedly sworn they would not. Does his current behavior foretell how he would deal with future diplomatic impasses?
Will he send the future Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense to bang on the gates of the Kremlin with a protest letter?
Rather than lashing out at Bush who, by the way, is not running the ad, Kerry would be better served buckling down and solving the problem. The issue is that his reports of his war record are often in disagreement with the facts. Placing late night phone calls asking people to quit pointing that fact out will not resolve the issue.
If Kerry cannot develop and stick to a clear and concise campaign plan for dealing with a few campaign attack ads, what makes anyone believe he is up to the task of commander in chief?