Something is Moving, Part 2

Yesterday, Dan Rather wrote on his blog that Democrats are becoming frustrated and disappointed with the Kerry campaign. As I noted earlier, there’s a feeling of a big Bush surge coming.

Now, Al Hunt, in today’s Wall Street Journal, writes of a “major shake-up” coming in the Kerry campaign. (Remember all of Al Gore’s shake-ups? Remember the contrast between Bush’s well-oiled machine with one man making quick decisions against Gore’s committee-driven, poll watching, risk averse blob?)

IF you have a WSJ online subscription, click here. If not, here are some highlights:

Dispirited Democrats – prominent senators, top fundraisers, even a few Kerry confidants – have told the candidate, who is in Nantucket, that high-level changes are imperative. A few very well-connected Democrats report something will occur in the next few days.

Leading Democrats describe a command structure often frozen – or at least tempered – by too many chefs, a too-heavy reliance on polls or focus groups and an aversion to risks. As a result, the message often is muddled and the reaction to hard-hitting attacks from Republicans often is slow and unconvincing.

The Democrats' picture is strikingly similar to the situation the party faced the last time it sought to unseat a President Bush. In June 1992, Bill Clinton’s campaign was cratering; he was running third in the polls, behind President Bush and Independent candidate Ross Perot, the message was muddled, high-level conference calls involved dozens of campaign chiefs as there were no clear lines of authority. Hillary Clinton stepped in, tapped James Carville to be in charge of everyone, and Mr. Clinton went on to win in November.

I would disagree with Hunt’s comparison to Clinton’s campaign. Clinton was in trouble much earlier. By the GOP convention, Bush 41 looked ready to go. “Read my lips,” was still playing everywhere. The Kerry campaign looks much more like Gore’s in 2000 from my view.