I realize that when Adam Nagourney's collected New York Times campaign dispatches are published as a book it will called Republicans Effortlessly Succeeding; Democrats Screwing Up Again, but really now -- does Nagourney actually believe that the 2004 presidential election may be decided by John Kerry's absence from the campaign trail for a few days in March and April?
At the very moment that President Bush has begun his general election campaign, Senator Mr. Kerry was off the campaign trail yet again on Wednesday, this time for shoulder surgery in Boston, an operation expected to sideline him through Sunday. The surgery followed his weeklong disappearance to the slopes of Sun Valley.
Some Democrats said that should Mr. Kerry lose in November, he might well remember this month as the time when he seriously undermined his hopes of defeating Mr. Bush. A few invoked one of Mr. Kerry's least-liked comparisons, noting how another Massachusetts Democrat who ran for president, Michael S. Dukakis, stuck close to home in August 1988, in what turned out to be a foolish strategic move in his campaign against Mr. Bush's father.
Dude, the election is seven months from now! At this time in 1992, Bill Clinton was in third place!
Nagourney's article (coauthored with Jodi Wilgoren) is called "Bad Timing as Kerry Slips Out of Picture"; some of Nagourney's greatest hits include "Worried Democrats See Daunting '04 Hurdles" and "A Fund-Raising Sprint by Bush Will Put His Rivals Far Behind." See a pattern beginning to emerge?