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Thursday, September 16, 2004

Should our President need an "uber adult"?

George W. Bush has a longtime stable of key advisors on matters political, military, and domestic.  It's a stable stable, if you will — with no huge shake-ups over time, good message discipline, and few leaks.  Dubya demands loyalty and gives it in return.

What a contrast one finds in tomorrow's page A1 WaPo article on the latest "additions" to the Kerry campaign.  I started taking notes, trying to compile a scorecard to identify all the players, but gave up when I started getting "memory overload" errors from my PC.  WaPo reveals that not only has the Kerry campaign concluded that it needs, as they admitted on September 2nd, "an adult traveling with the candidate," they need an adult to supervise the adult:

"In the wake of the Swift boat ads, Kerry had largely deputized Lockhart to oversee the day-to-day communications and message strategy of the campaign — two of the most important jobs. "He's the chief strategist," one aide said of Lockhart. McCurry is, in the words of one aide, "the adult on the plane," as far as implementing the day-to-day communications strategy.

Sasso has taken the role of "uber adult" on the road, the unofficial "best buddy" candidates traditionally have at their side, but that Kerry has often lacked. Sasso, who initially ran Michael S. Dukakis's campaign in 1988 and served as the former Massachusetts governor's chief of staff at a time when Kerry was Dukakis's lieutenant governor, is a widely respected manager. Democrats outside the campaign are looking to him to unite the various moving parts and changing roles in the campaign. Sasso and Lockhart are tasked with keeping Kerry's multitude of advisers at bay.

"It's obvious that they're trying to beef up the plane, that they need some help out there," said Democratic strategist Bill Carrick, a longtime adviser to Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.) who has no role in the Kerry campaign. Carrick calls Sasso "the ultimate grownup, someone who goes back a long way with Kerry and someone Kerry will obviously listen to."

Unfortunately, this apparently doesn't just betoken a campaigning weakness on Sen. Kerry's part, but something that's a fundamental part of his general management and decision-making style:

One of the abiding truths about Kerry — and one that is often frustrating to his aides — is that he will listen to anyone. He is known as a political loner, but he is also constantly on the phone and will take counsel at any time from any number of parties, be it fellow senators, longtime friends, advisers in ill-defined roles such as Shrum or freelancers such as Begala. Kerry is not a micro-manager, friends say, but he is prone to engaging in a vast and drawn-out process by which his decisions are informed.

"This is what works for John," said one longtime aide who is not involved in this campaign, "and we try to be respectful of it. But it can create a greater sense of chaos than is probably necessary."

Kerry insists that for example with respect to the Iraq War, he would have done "everything differently" than President Bush has.  Yes, Senator, I believe you — but differently doesn't necessarily mean better.  The way you're running your campaign — which reminds me strongly of my memories of junior high school, on a bad day — doesn't give one much confidence in your ability to run a war or a nation. 

Posted by Beldar at 11:19 PM in Mainstream Media, Politics (2006 & earlier) | Permalink


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(1) ed made the following comment | Sep 16, 2004 11:54:08 PM | Permalink


I don't know about an "uber-adult" for Kerry but the rank and file Democrats really need one!

Thugs that rip up little girls' signs

Man that's just completely wrong.

The problem is that this politically drive violence is starting to creep up. If I were Bush I'd tell the Secret Service to be on their toes for his 2nd term. People are starting to go nuts.

(2) schroedinger's cat made the following comment | Sep 17, 2004 12:07:27 AM | Permalink

While it appears that Kerry zigs and zags from one position to another, the fact is that we just don't appreciate the "nuances" of his positions.

(Does that need a sarcasm tag?)

(3) Dan S made the following comment | Sep 17, 2004 12:10:22 AM | Permalink

Nice job on Hugh Hewitt's show, Beldar. It's fun to hear the people I read so regularly.

The WaPo headline on shakeups in the Kerry campaign cracked me up. I ALMOST posted a two-line entry titled "Again?" with the headline pasted below it.

(4) Radio made the following comment | Sep 17, 2004 1:03:12 AM | Permalink

Methinks we need an updated 'dis-org' chart for the Kerry campaign and its tenacles, ala the NYT chart that accompanied their effort to disparage the Swiftees.

(5) Sean made the following comment | Sep 17, 2004 6:29:28 AM | Permalink

I am a first time blogger on your wonderful site but a long time reader.
You are an excellent reporter of information as you have a desire for facts and truth, to that I thank you.
My home blog is Critically Biased where I have repeatedly posted your site and outstanding articles, enough said.
Kerry will listen and lean and flip and flop via poll or advice for an audience or an interview, this is who they want for a President?

(6) Duke made the following comment | Sep 17, 2004 12:56:50 PM | Permalink

re: "it can create a greater sense of chaos than is probably necessary." Just how much sense of chaos IS necessary?

(7) Yehudit made the following comment | Sep 17, 2004 7:17:41 PM | Permalink

"he is prone to engaging in a vast and drawn-out process by which his decisions are informed.. . . "But it can create a greater sense of chaos than is probably necessary.""

Wasn't this the complaint about Clinton's administration?

(8) Eric Pobirs made the following comment | Sep 17, 2004 9:00:30 PM | Permalink

So this guy is, what? The lefty loser's version of Karl Rove? You'd think anybody high up in the Dukakis '88 campaign would be mega-rem level radioactive but then Kerry was fairly high up with Dukakis, too.

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