Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Kerry as Barak?

Tired of all the comparisons made between the 2004 election and (take your pick):

(a) the 1980 race, when a beleaguered incumbent president lost decisively as the undecided all broke to the challenger in the last few days;

(b) the 1992 race, when an Iraq-conquering president named Bush was defeated by a Democrat assaulting his poor economic stewardship;

(c) the 1972 race, when the incumbent Republican war president won in a landslide by appealing to the nationalistic, socially conservative Silent Majority; or

(d) the 1988 race, when an aggressive Bush campaign successfully tarred a Massachusetts liberal as out of touch with the mainstream?

Leave it to the New Republic to start comparing the Kerry-Bush race to elections in other countries. They print two articles. (Subscription required to read the articles.) The pessimistic one draws a parallel between Kerry and the hapless, charisma-challenged Neil Kinnock, who squandered Labour's advantage on the issues and couldn't withstand the negative attacks from John Major in the 1991 British elections. The more persuasive article argues that Kerry's playing Ehud Barak to Bush's Bibi Netanyahu. Barak was the war hero whose biography-intensive compaign hardened Labor's dovish image; Bibi is a reflexively hawkish wingnut who's loathed by the center-left. Though the Israeli electorate was closely divided in 1999 and polls fairly close for most of the race, Barak pulled away at the end and whipped Bibi by a 56-44 margin.

If you're interested with historical comparisons, check out the Barak-Kerry article. I haven't seen a better case for a historical parallel. Then again, maybe such comparisons are fundamentally flawed.

Also, I keep running into folks who remain skeptical that Kerry's in a strong position. Don't take my word for it. Check out what Charlie Cook and Larry Sabato, two of the most respected election analysts in Washington, say about the state of the race. And these guys aren't Democratic shills.

Added for all my Costco-loving buds: A Brooksian piece on Kerryesque Costco v. Bushian Wal-Mart. The piece is better than it sounds.