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Better Than Kerry

Michael Kinsley, in a smart move, seems to have hired Jon Chait as a columnist and in his first effort he makes the case that Kerry's poor qualities as a candidate won't/wouldn't detract from his skills as a president. I agree. The Kerry-as-bad-candidate meme is an interesting one, though. It's something I've talked about a lot with a lot of people. We all agree that he's not so hot. But then the question arises -- who would be better? And it's hard to come up with anything. John Edwards, clearly, has the raw material there, but I think it's pretty clear that such an inexperienced guy would've gotten slammed in the first post-9/11 election. Ideally, you would somehow meld Kerry's record and biography with Edwards' personal qualities, but outside of Reasons and Persons the world doesn't look like that. Wesley Clark was, I think, on paper by far the strongest candidate. And maybe -- maybe -- he would've done a better job than Kerry. But from what we saw he had all of Kerry's weaknesses as a spokesman except multiplied. Gephardt would've been a fiasco.

I can sort of see the case that Dean, despite his well-known weaknesses, might look a lot better in fall '04 than he did in winter '03 simply because Iraq has now become a clear potential vulnerability for Bush and Dean has clear position on it. On the other hand, I think his tax policy would've been a killer, and you'd be hard-pressed to say on the merits that Howard Dean is the person best-suited to fixing the problems in Iraq. Some small-state governor who's surrounded himself with a peacenik following.

So I'm not sure that Kerry's the best candidate who was available, but I'm inclined to say that he is.

September 17, 2004 | Permalink

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» Hey, Y'all, You've Got a Message from Not Geniuses
Jonathan Chait picks it up. Now you should too. No more Bush is a moron. No more Kerry is a great closer. Rather than talking about how conservatives have a good noise machine, create our own. The fundamental point is... [Read More]

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» Hey, Y'all, You've Got a Message from Not Geniuses
Jonathan Chait picks it up. Now you should too. No more Bush is a moron. No more Kerry is a great closer. Rather than talking about how conservatives have a good noise machine, create our own. The fundamental point is... [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 27, 2004 11:30:00 AM