MORE FREE ADVICE!….Mark Schmitt has a good critique of my suggestion from a few days ago that Democrats can’t beat Bush by banging on a theme of incompetence. Since Mark is a lot smarter about this kind of stuff than me, it’s worth reading.
Perhaps foolishly, though, I don’t think I’m ready to back down. It’s not that I don’t think Bush is incompetent, it’s just that I don’t think the folly of his policies is yet clear enough that you can convince people of it. In a couple of years, when the smoke clears, it will be pretty easy, but for now I think competence arguments rely too heavily on technical policy grounds that don’t have much resonance with voters.
Needless to say, though, a competence argument is still part of the package, and we may mostly be arguing about emphasis. Should it be the main argument against Bush or should it be a background theme? I still vote for the latter.
Of course, there’s also the bigger question of what to talk about: national security or domestic issues? I think this is really the core question, and I’m appalled at the advice of Democratic bigwigs that Kerry should focus on domestic issues. Fundamentally, I think this election is all about national security. It’s about convincing people that Bush’s vision is dangerous and misguided and that Kerry can do a better job of protecting the country. More on this later if I can get my thoughts in order.