Yesterday I tried to explain as carefully as I could why I am almost certainly voting for President Bush.
The NY Times, whose editorial board endorsed Kerry yesterday, is concerned about Kerry's Mary Cheney remark in the final debate:
- a single remark by Mr. Kerry, noting that Vice President Dick Cheney's daughter Mary is a lesbian, has shadowed his strong performance and given Republicans an opening to slow the momentum Mr. Kerry got from the debates, some Democrats say.
Amid signs of Democratic concern, Mr. Kerry's advisers acknowledged Sunday that some voters perceived Mr. Kerry's remark as an invasion of Ms. Cheney's privacy, a gratuitous personal insult, or a crass political calculation by which Mr. Kerry was trying to drive a wedge between Mr. Cheney and conservatives unaware that his daughter was gay.
And Republicans were quick to seize on the exchange to reinforce their effort to portray Mr. Kerry in these closing days of the presidential race as a man who, as Mr. Cheney put it, "will say and do anything in order to get elected."
"He shouldn't have done it," said Matthew Dowd, a senior adviser to Mr. Bush. "It was inappropriate. I just don't think you should bring up people's children in the course of a campaign. And it wasn't just accidental that he did it - he's not an accidental guy."
....as the fallout continued this weekend, some Democrats were clearly concerned, aware that there has rarely been a presidential campaign as close as this one. Three organizations released polls on Sunday showing that Mr. Bush had improved his standing. Time magazine showed him with a lead of two percentage points while Newsweek found he was ahead by four percentage points. The latest Gallup poll said Mr. Bush had a lead of eight percentage points.
Considering that most polls found that viewers judged Mr. Kerry the clear winner of all three debates, some Democrats said the most likely explanation for these results was a sharp response to the remark
....As is frequently the case in campaign episodes like this, the real damage is a function of whether they reinforce existing voter concerns about a candidate, like when Bill Clinton, at the very time he was being mocked as "Slick Willie," talked about smoking marijuana and not inhaling.
Translation: we think Kerry won the debates, we think Kerry should be president, but if he doesn't win this could very well be why. You voters, especially Bush voters, are stupid.
Another clue: on the same day the Times endorsed Kerry, yesterday, they ran a piece in their Week In Review section speculating upon what might be expected from a second Bush term:
- If the president is still Mr. Bush, would a second term be marked by pre-emption on steroids, unilateralism in a silken glove, or the kind of alliance-building Mr. Bush talked about in the three debates?