Thursday, September 23, 2004

Where Have You Gone, Howard Dean?

Howard Dean needs to save Kerry's behind, pronto. Stay with me on this.

Kerry goes up in the polls whenever he acts like Howard Dean (see his recent speech on the Iraq quagmire for an example). The problem: Kerry's not Dean, not by a long shot. He doesn't naturally speak from the heart - he likes to speak in an intellectually nuanced way about the issues of the day, but comes off sounding like that slightly pompous professor who regularly drops the fact that he's professor "Emmeritus" into his lectures.

Nuance is great when you're giving a major policy speech at a prestigious university *when you're president already*.

Campaigns are won by formulating your positions into easy to digest slogans organized around winning themes. They are won by keeping the rhetoric tight and focussed.

Consider this, which I just made up on the spot. "This president's mismanagement of the economy has cost a million jobs so far. If a million more of you want to lose your jobs, by all means vote for the incumbent. If you'd rather just one more guy lose his job, the guy in the white house who did this to you, well, you know how to vote then." See? Simple, memorable lines: "the guy who did this to you" is a line that speaks directly to the voter who either lost his job, or is afraid of losing his job (about 90% of the population?) and shows that you feel his pain, and are not afraid to name names in order to stick up for him. "The president's mismanagement..." assumes as fact what the cause of the listener's problem is, and then the solution is offered: "Send that jerk packing!"

Dean has a gift for this sort of thing: that's why the Republicans were running ads against him in the primaries (remember the "latte-sipping, birkenstocks-wearing" attack ad run in Iowa before the caucuses? That was financed by a Republican group.) They lived in terror that he would get the nomination and run against Bush in the General Election.

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