Thursday, June 24, 2004

Deconstructing Kerry

I have to admit that I'm feeling a little John Kerry fatigue this week. I like this campaign theme of "middle-class squeeze", because it speaks more directly to how voters perceive their economic status than cold citations of job losses or GDP growth or fluctuations in the Dow. And I don't really have a problem with him holding back on the ongoing debacles of Iraq, torture revelations and other foreign policy points. But the Gephardt VP rumors really have me discouraged (more on that tomorrow), and on issue after issue I'm reminded that this is just not a particularly admirable or inspiring politician. He still has a long way to go in persuading voters who don't detest right-wingers that he's someone to cast a vote for, rather than the mere beneficiary of a vote against someone else.

But maybe this will help: in Lee Iacocca's endorsement of Kerry Thursday afternoon, he pointed out that Kerry's website has a list of ten priorities for his term. Now, some of these are negatives ("End the Era of Ashcroft") and some are pretty vague ("A New Era of National Service," "Rejoin the Community of Nations") but at the least they present a coherent agenda and suggest a governing philosophy. Also included on the list are a couple specific goals ("Cut the Deficit in Half in Four Years") and legislative priorities ("First Major Legislative Plan: Affordable Health Care"). It's a start, and the site offers more detail on each point.

Last winter and spring, a lot of Democratic voters were remembering Bill Clinton's axiom that during the primaries you fall in love; for the general election, you fall in line. In a way, I'm glad the Republicans are more amenable to "falling in line" than we on the left side of the spectrum are. This list at least serves to remind us that while Kerry isn't offering a progressive wish list or good government fantasy agenda (hmm... another good idea for a future entry), the priorities he has announced are certainly worth fighting for.

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