Victor Davis Hanson offers a fine article today explaining Kerry’s electoral problem. VDH suggests that things should be going well for the challenger:
We hear of mayhem daily in Iraq; news on the economic front is mixed; and an entire host of surrogates has defamed George Bush in a manner not seen in decades during a political campaign. Why, then, does Kerry gain little traction, trail in most polls, and perhaps even start to slip further? After all, he is a hard campaigner, has a razor-sharp memory, speaks well, looks statesmanlike at times, raises lots of money, and has a mobilized base working hard for his election.
Hanson offers a number of reasons for this failure, but ultimately concludes (rightly, I think) that "it was a mistake to nominate him in the first place, and a further mistake to add Edwards to the ticket[.] A Gephardt/Lieberman combination, or something reflecting such middle-of-the-road practicality and seriousness — scolding the president from the responsible right on tactical lapses in postwar Iraq — would never have gotten though the extremist primary and embarrassing Deanomania, but it might well have won the general election." As for pith, however, his opening line says it all: "Putin wants Bush, while Arafat prefers Kerry — and that is all we need to know."