It Ain't Over Till It's Over - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over

With both parties to the alleged affair flatly denying the Drudge Report rumor that dogged John Kerry last week, we must assume, absent evidence to the contrary, that the infidelity never took place. I must admit this disappoints me greatly. If John Edwards has Bill Clinton’s charm without his moral pathology, then Kerry has the pathology without the charm; the philandering would complete the parallel, when combined with Kerry’s endless waffling. Liberal punch-pulling and comics-page standards of good taste led Garry Trudeau to illustrate Clinton’s failings by drawing him as a waffle, but Clinton’s straddles were never as dizzying as Kerry’s.

On pretty much every important issue facing the country — war and peace, trade, education, anti-terrorism laws, gay marriage, etc. — Kerry not only waffles, but waffles ineptly. Edwards can explain his votes for the Iraq war but against funding the occupation and sound somewhat convincing; Kerry cannot. In the debate in Wisconsin Sunday night, when Kerry was asked whether he felt any responsibility for the war he voted to authorize, he gave a long and meandering answer, invoking his Vietnam service, bashing Bush for being insufficiently beholden to the UN, saying that Bush could have gone to war without Congress so the vote didn’t really matter, among other nonsense. This was when Edwards delivered the coup de grace in a debate he won hands down: “That’s the longest answer I ever heard to a yes or no question. The answer to your question is yes, of course.”

Zogby showed Kerry ahead of Edwards by 27 points in Wisconsin over the weekend; as I write, with 99% of precincts reporting, Kerry’s margin of victory has been pared down to 6. Four out of ten voters were non-Democrats, and Edwards won among them, suggesting that the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel was surely right to argue, in its editorial endorsement of Edwards, that Edwards is the more electable candidate. Note that South Carolina, the one state that Edwards has won, has an open primary like Wisconsin.

Endorsements from the Journal-Sentinel and the Madison Capital Times, along with the debate, clearly contributed to Kerry’s slide; Edwards overwhelmingly won voters who decided whom to vote for in the final days. (I suspect the Drudge story played a small role at most; it appears to have gotten very little play in the Wisconsin media, and one of the mentions was in the middle of a Capital Times puff-piece on Teresa Heinz-Kerry preposterously titled “Would-be first lady likened to Jackie O.”)

The bounce that Edwards got at the end of the race, and his clear victory in the media primary — the talking heads swooned all night over the exceeded expectations — suggest how Edwards could conceivably catch up to John Kerry. The media, generally suckers for a tight race, are likely to play up the Edwards vs. Kerry story; if Kerry turns in a few more bad performances as more voters start paying attention, or better yet faces a scandal that actually has legs, then Edwards could get some traction heading into Super Tuesday on March 2. He can’t afford to campaign as widely as Kerry, and Kerry maintains his solid frontrunner status; he’s still only lost two states. Edwards is still a long shot. Then again, a month ago, so was John Kerry.

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