August 13, 2004


John “Flat” Kerry

By Andrés Lozano

In his insight, 17th century French fabulist, Jean de la Fontaine, summoned “not to sell the bear’s hide before killing it,” a piece of good advice, indeed, if there is any. Pundits and all sorts of crystal ball prophets have an uphill battle in order to explain why “No-rebound John” or John “Flat” Kerry, managed to get no jolt at the polls out of the Democratic National Convention, even to lose a point among likely voters vis à vis George W. Bush. Now, a few things can make independent voters change their minds by November 2, and decide the election either way, but meantime, JFK is in a quandary. Even lackluster Walter Mondale, back in 1984, had a better showing. Only George McGovern, before Kerry, managed to lose popularity coming out of its anointing convention for altogether different reasons: being a dud certainly not one of them.

Conventional wisdom suggests that the electorate has already made up its mind at this stage of the race towards the White House. That only a very limited number of likely voters remain undecided, thus leaving little or no room for dramatic changes in the polls. Do not believe it for a second. Add a potential 4 percent of last moment crossovers in both sides to the 13 percent undecided and you arrive to the traditional benchmark of 20-21 percent of independent voters that decide every presidential election.

The fact that JFK did not benefit from a rebound is entirely due to the fact that he is an uninspiring suitor saddled with a “me too” campaign. As a rule, voters and consumers prefer the original. Add to this picture the fact that his number 2 appealed to class warfare, a political looser, and we get the whole picture. At any rate, where we stand at mid-August, JFK does not have the wherewithal to win the autumn election, whilst GWB can manage to lose it. Overall, Kerry lost at his party’s convention the little momentum and the initiative he had garnered in behalf of his opponent. Thus, the initiative to clinch a second mandate or lose it is entirely on Bush’s side.

Individual voters have a hard time figuring Kerry because the sum of the parts does not tally up the total. Voters’ have grown concerned with billionaire candidates espousing populist causes. Americans are commonsensical people, suspicious of proposals that, at least in theory, go against the interests of those purporting them. A case in point: JFK is the beneficiary of incredible wealth inherited from his wife’s first husband. All the information available indicates that such fabulous wealth: the Heinz ketchup empire, is invested in clever trust funds, unreachable by the IRS, yet JFK wants to raise taxes on annual incomes starting at 200,000. Does this make any sense at all? At the same time, his best credentials, as a young volunteer in Viet Nam are falling into pieces. “Unfit for Command”, the rendition of JFK’s wartime exploits, written by former mates; place him as a boaster of unwarranted personal merits. So far, he and his team have been unable to dispel the damaging claims against him and will certainly vex his campaign. Add his extreme liberal, though scanty, voting pattern at the Senate and he certainly cannot claim being a middle ground candidate, nor a very diligent one, for that matter.

If the past is a reflection of the future; generally it is, Kerry does not have what it takes and requires a miracle to happen in order to clinch the election. A miracle only deliverable by assorted American foes. The point is: How individual voters will react towards open meddling from terrorist groups, unfriendly governments, such as the French, and oil monopolist’s worldwide gouging prices to derail the US economy and give their candidate a chance to win by default?

Andrés Lozano

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