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11.14.2004

Thoughts on Newsweeks post-campaign special edition

Fits and Starts

First off, as unimpressed as I was with the Kerry campaign from the begining, I never would have guessed the level of disorgainization and sheer confusion with which Kerry's primary campaign was run. The portrayal of Kerry as a wishy-washy politician who could not make up decisions and allowed childish back-biting to flourish in his campaign. It is really too bad that this coverage had to come out after the election, because if the American people had known how ineffective Kerry was at running a campaign I think many more would have doubted his ability to run the country.

The other really interesting thing I picked up on is how much of a nut job Theresa Heinz apparently is.
Kerry seemed to be walking on eggshells around Teresa. He wanted her to be happy, in part because she was much more trouble on the campaign trail when she was unhappy. Teresa had a way of letting everyone know that Kerry was her second husband, and that she still loved her first, Sen. John Heinz, who died in a plane crash in 1991. (The portraits of the two Johns hang side by side in her Georgetown mansion.) Teresa above all valued her own candor. She wanted to be able to talk about her Botox injections and yak with women reporters about her views on reincarnation and the pros and cons of hormone-replacement therapy. She did not want to hear about "message discipline." Indeed, her frankness could be refreshing. Some crowds responded with "you go, girl" enthusiasm when she made fun of her husband and voiced a strong opinion on the trail. But others wondered why the slightly eccentric woman introducing the candidate was prattling on about herself in a difficult-to-understand accent. She was not one for the plastic, adoring smile of the traditional candidate's wife. On the other hand, Kerry's handlers wondered, did she have to look sullen?
The staffers in the Kerry campaign did not know how to deal with her, and its clear she was not an asset to this campaign. She truly would have been a rich target for all of us in the blogosphere, that would have been the only silver lining had Kerry won.


Inner Circle

This is a striking contrast to the picture painted of Kerry in the first part. The Bush campaign is protrayed as tight, focused, and business-like with just enough fun thrown in. Karl Rove is portrayed as the genius, but right-wing pandering, politico who was praying for a Dean victory in the Democratic primaries. Karen Hughes is shown as the master of the message, who runs a tight ship, making sure the White House and all surrogates always stay on message.

Particularly intersting is the characterization of President Bush post-9/11.
President Bush badly needed a break. Since 9/11 he had been obsessed. He began every morning by getting briefed on the so-called Threat Matrix, the CIA analysis of the threat of another terrorist attack. He saw himself as a war president in a war without end. "Terrorists declared war on the United States of America," Bush told audiences over and over during the fall of 2003. "And war is what they got!" Some of his friends thought they saw less of his puckish humor, more of his impatience. The harder the choices, the worse the news, the more chaotic the world, the more stubbornly Bush demanded order in his own life. The onetime hard-drinking party boy was almost ascetic in his discipline: about getting exercise, about getting enough sleep, about having meetings start on time. He nicknamed his own chief of staff, Andy Card, "Tangent Man," for wandering off the subject. It was teasing with a hard edge. "He pays very close attention to his schedule, and if I'm not doing my job of monitoring his schedule, he disciplines me," said Card. All meetings started on time at the White House, or early. There all employees understood the Bush code: "Late is rude."
This is clearly a focused man, with a staff of dedicated individuals, who believe they are fighting the good fight.

Whether they know it or not, Newsweek has produced a comparison of the these two men that is very flattering to President Bush.

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