Not only does Kerry beat Bush 49%-41% in the latest New York Times/CBS poll, but Kerry-Edwards beats Bush-Cheney 50%-40% and Kerry-McCain beats Bush-Cheney 53%-39%.
So where does this leave Adam Nagourney? Even he can read his own newspaper's polls. He can't credibly say that Kerry is in trouble now, but if Adam Nagourney can't detect trouble for Democrats, he simply has no reason to live. So today, on the front page of the Times, he suggests that there might be trouble for Kerry in the future:
...Some [Democratic] party officials say that with three new polls showing President Bush more embattled than he has ever been, Mr. Kerry's wisest course would be to take few chances and turn the election into a referendum on a struggling president....
But other Democrats warn that such a strategy entails risks of its own, banking on the proposition that Americans would be willing to fire an incumbent during war time and replace him with someone they know little about. "I don't think anybody in their right mind is going to run for president on a strategy of 'people hate the other guy and that's enough for our guy to win,' " said Douglas Sosnik, the White House political director for President Bill Clinton....
Yikes! He might not win if he never tells us why he'd be a better president!
Does any rational person (i.e., any person outside the political-insider demimonde) think that's what Kerry's going to do for the duration of the campaign? That's ridiculous. In due course, he'll speak up. Right now, though, the election isn't for five and a half months. And Bush is floundering. As many of the people Nagourney quotes quite correctly point out, it's good for Kerry if the focus is on Bush's floundering.
I don't think Kerry is merely letting Bush hang himself without his own ineptitude -- I think he's triangulating. Here's Al Gore giving a fiery speech that has right-wingers foaming at the mouth. (David Horowitz's Front Page Magazine: "Al Gore or Al Jazeera?") Here's Nader, calling for Bush's impeachment. Here's Bill Clinton, about to go all flamboyant and mediagenic on us -- his huge book is coming out a week early (in less than a month).
On the other side, there are the Bushies, flapping their arms, insisting everything's under control (except that they have no plan for Iraq and those pesky al-Qaeda people whose asses we supposedly kicked seem to be planning massive stateside terrorist strikes that are, apparently, nearly inevitable).
And in the middle, there's Kerry.
If he stays low-key for a while, he might really start to seem like the one grown-up on the political scene, the guy in the "sensible center." Then, maybe, we'll really hear his side.