Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Ken Auletta on the Kerry campaign

This Ken Auletta, not exactly a Bush supporter, interview in the New Yorker is related to his long story in the current issue (not available on line, its title is "Kerry’s Brain") on the Kerry campaign, focusing on Bob Shrum. Both should be read to figure out what is going on in the Kerry campaign, or, if you prefer, why it has collapsed. Note how tight and secretive the Kerry campaign is:

"But where he’s [Bob Shrum] probably wrong, I think, is that he’s done what generals often do: he’s repeated the same strategy for one war without realizing there’s a different war. When the Swift-boat attacks came, in early August, the Kerry campaign waited before fully responding to them. Shrum’s philosophy was that, post-9/11, people didn’t have the kind of tolerance for negative personal attacks. That has been proved false, because Kerry’s poll numbers, as they related to that topic, dropped. I think the Kerry camp misunderstood the nature of the modern campaign, where you have the Internet dovetailing with twenty-four-hour cable news, creating this kind of echo chamber."

"But actually, by contrast, the Bush campaign was, in some ways, more open to me in answering questions than the Kerry campaign was. For instance, I asked the Kerry campaign how many employees they had. They refused to answer, like it was a state secret, and the Bush campaign was totally open about it. It was quite stunning. I think that the Bush people are very shrewd politically. I’m not saying that a lot of the Kerry people are not, but the Bush people understood that if they continued with Fortress Bush going into a Presidential campaign, if they were not more accessible to the press—whom they need now, but didn’t in the first three years of Bush’s Presidency—they would be hurt by it, and people would be talking about the secretive Bush White House. So they tried to change that story line; if you ask the Bush people now how many real volunteers they have, they answer exactly. It’s like pulling teeth to get that out of the Kerry campaign."

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