Re: Slip-ups on the Campaign Trail
John, I agree with Obama’s sentiments that an election should not be about skeletons, but I disagree that it shouldn’t be about slip-ups on the campaign trail. Jimmy Carter blew a thirty-point lead and nearly threw the 1976 elections away because of slip-ups on the campaign trail. His strategic and tactical performance as a campaigner–the bizarre interview with Playboy, the pronounced tendency to denigrate by moralizing, the inability to formulate clear answers to questions–was all a clear warning of the disastrous presidency to follow. Likewise, Kerry’s flip-flopping campaign spectacle–which mesmerized Republican strategists in how gratuitously self-destructive it was–was a clear indication of the presidency that would have followed a Kerry victory. His tendency to compound indecision with panic; to say the most foolish things with that silly affectation of intellectual and moral authority; to play the principled victim of a dog-eat-dog political world; and his utter inability to develop and stick to a clear strategy–these were vitally important pieces of information, and they convinced an unwilling electorate to chose Bush instead.
Presidential campaigns are organizational dress-rehearsals for the presidency. The slip-ups tell all.