Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Good stuff by Steven Waldman on John Kerry:

"Kerry is suffering from over-identification with John F. Kennedy. He seems to have decided that the best way to deal with religion in this campaign is the same way Kennedy (the last Catholic Democratic contender) did. JFK1 emphasized the separation of church and state and so, therefore, should Kerry.

If that's the case, Kerry is learning the wrong lessons from that campaign. His and Kennedy's dilemmas were utterly different, requiring different solutions. Kennedy's problem was Protestants. Kerry's is Catholics. Kennedy had to prove that that he wasn't under the thumb of the Vatican in order to mollify anxious Protestants. Emphasizing secularism made sense as a way of distancing himself from the church. Thanks to ethnic pride, he could do this without risking losing the Catholic vote (in fact, he won it by a staggering 50 points).

Kerry's problems flow from within the Catholic world. Conservative Catholics, lay and official, have launched stinging attacks on him for being an iffy Catholic because of his pro-choice stance. Meanwhile, the Catholic vote is up for grabs, with the Bush campaign making intense efforts to woo it. If Kerry doesn't define himself as a sterling Catholic, he will be labeled by his critics a bad one."

That's why I keep thinking Kerry could well lose, or that he'll only win on the basis of overwhelming Bush-hatred: he's not religious enough. You can't be elected President of this country unless you're a Christian -- or possibly a devout Jew, but look at what happened to Lieberman -- and when it comes playing the religion card the Bushies are going to go for the throat. They'll show Bush carrying around his Bible and Kerry will be up there looking smug and removed from it all, which will only impress the academics, who are as useless as tits on a bull when it comes to getting someone elected.

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