September 19, 2004

Is Kerry moving left?

Robert Novak on Kerry's apparent move to the left:

To the astonishment and dismay of Democratic politicians, John Kerry over the last weekend appeared to have forgotten his opponent for president. He did not seem to realize that he was running against George W. Bush, not Howard Dean. That was an understandable conclusion to be drawn from the Democratic nominee's course over four days.

Last Friday, Sen. Kerry abruptly returned to the safely buried gun control issue by decrying President Bush for permitting the assault weapons ban to end. On Saturday, he addressed the Congressional Black Caucus with a liberal harangue. On Sunday, Kerry rested. On Monday, Kerry was back boosting gun control, scolding Bush for letting the assault weapons ban expire at midnight.

Only two explanations are possible, and neither is reassuring to worried Democrats. Kerry could be making a conscious, though counterproductive, decision to reassure his liberal base. Or, he could be trapped by the calendar of events -- talking gun control because a deadline had been reached and talking civil rights because the Black Caucus invited him. Democratic strategists are particularly concerned by the latter explanation, suggesting a mindless campaign.