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In an article in today’s Washington Post, Jim VandeHei describes how the top management of Kerry’s campaign, all current or former Kennedy operatives, is planning to assist Kerry “to sell himself anew to voters as a 21st-century centrist Democrat, a muscular hawk on national defense and deficits.”

As an exercise in power political gymnastics (not to say contortions), this will be fun to watch.

Here’s the nub of the issue, along with a good example of journalistic bias:

Although most of Kerry’s top aides were trained to fight for a bigger, more activist government, they are evolving with the candidate and the party. “The best people, the best thinkers, generally adapt with a change in circumstance,” Cahill said….

Cahill said Kerry has great flexibility in repositioning the party because liberals are more concerned about winning the White House than the ideological war. “Times have changed,” she said. Kerry plans to target swing voters, the small percentage of Americans not bound to one political party.

The only “circumstance” that has changed is Kerry’s. If that’s not all there is to this new scramble toward centrism, perhaps some of the campaign spinmeisters can explain just how “times have changed” in the few months since Kerry was trying to out-Dean the Deaniacs.

While they’re explaining that, I would also be interested to learn whether Kennedy has also become “a 21st-century centrist Democrat.” If so, who are the liberal/left Democrats, and how do Kerry and Kennedy differ from them? If not, how and where does the new Kerry differ from the old Kerry and the current Kennedy?

And now for the bias: it is VandeHei the reporter, not a Kerry operative, who asserts as a matter of fact that these Kennedy operatives “are evolving with the candidate and the party.” Maybe they are. Maybe all these Kennedyites have suddenly changed their spots, had a conversion experience on the road to the White House, and are now principled new recruits to the world view of the Democratic Leadership Council. Or, in the alternative, maybe they are merely unprincipled political opportunists saying whatever they think will work. Before asserting either one of these possibilities as a matter of fact, shouldn’t a reporter have more evidence than the statements of the operatives or their critics?

Say What? (1)

  1. Claire April 21, 2004 at 1:08 pm | | Reply

    “…perhaps some of the campaign spinmeisters can explain just how “times have changed” in the few months since Kerry was trying to out-Dean the Deaniacs.”

    It’s really simple. What they’ve been doing, a la Dean, isn’t working. Kerry’s falling behind in the polls more and more each day, and they’re getting desperate. Nothing matters to them but winning the White House and getting back in power – not principle, not truth, not morality.

    I guess if Kennedy can’t win the White House himself, he’ll groom someone else and then set himself up to pull the strings from behind the scene. He sincerely believes that he is entitled to the White House, simply by being a Kennedy.

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