Preaching to the choir

If you're looking for a sign of weakness inherent in the Bush campaign, don't look at poll numbers, don't look at events in Iraq or Afghanistan (do we even have reporters in Afghanistan any more?), don't look at the dismal job numbers or the other shaky economic news. Just look at the way Bush and Rove are campaigning. I'm not talking about the numbers at the gatherings that Bush attends, although by all accounts, Kerry is waxing his ass in that sense as well. I'm talking about who's allowed to attend the various events. From CNN:

This was no town hall appearance before a cross-section of citizens. Bush-Cheney re-election headquarters had instructed Oregon campaign officials to distribute tickets, so the school gymnasium was filled last Friday with 2,000 passionate Bush backers.

Bush's team exerts close control over admission to his events. Dissenters and would-be hecklers are turned away, campaign officials say. On several occasions in recent weeks, Democrats who have gotten in have been ejected because they wore pro-Kerry T-shirts.
And then there was that couple who were arrested in North Carolina, but that's another story.

By contrast, Kerry's events are pretty much open to the public,
though there have been some town hall events that are invitation-only. For certain appearances, the Kerry campaign has distributed tickets to the local party, unions and other supporters.

But Kerry spokesman David Wade said that any member of the public can get a ticket from a local campaign office or from the affiliated groups on a first-come, first-served basis. Many people are admitted without any ticket.


Kerry's events are open, which means he runs the risk of hecklers--and they do come out. CNN reports that a current favorite tactic is for the protestors to hold cheap sandals over their heads, clap them together and yell "Four more years." How original of them. But apparently Kerry and his campaign people feel it's more important to allow anyone who wants to come and listen to have the chance, without having to sign a loyalty oath, even if it means that hecklers get to show off their lack of wit.

Which is why the Bush campaign, I believe, will ultimately fail to win swing voters and independents (and by extension, the election). He's still preaching to the choir after 3+ years, and his choir isn't big enough to elect him on its own.

What's more, it seems he's afraid of preaching to anyone but the choir. Bush's campaign spokesman Scott Stanzel admits that they're not targeting swing voters at their events.
The president's events are not designed to convert Kerry backers, but rather energize Bush's base, aides say.

"The thousands of people at these events are the messengers for the campaign," Stanzel said. "They go out and spread the message, whether it's at their place of business or their VFW or sportsman's club or just in their neighborhood."
I guess Bush is so inept in the face of dissent that he has to have others face the opposition for him instead of manning up and doing it himself. Seems like not much has changed since Vietnam, huh?

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