Kerry: Most Unpopular Kid on the Playground?

No doubt spurred on by commentary posted on Slate and The New Republic, the blogosphere today is in a tizzy over who’s more electable: Kerry or Edwards?

John Kerry didn’t exactly go down on one knee in Wisconsin, but he did wince a little. And in the wonderful world of instant experts inside and outside the blogosphere in their bathrobes pounding feverishly away at the keyboard as dawn breaks, that’s more than enough to start the pile-on.

To wit:

Kos starts off the roundup, “But ultimately, Kerry’s biggest weakness is that no one likes him, unlike the well-liked, charismatic Edwards. [No one, Kos? Come on, how about Teresa?] The exit polls have been clear — people vote for Kerry not because they are inspired, agree with his policies, or otherwise find him an attractive candidate. They vote for him because they think he is ‘most electable’. And that aura is fading.”

Does Calpundit agree? Read for yourself: “I don’t know, especially since most voters don’t pay attention to the minutiae of exit polls. But it’s an intriguing thought. And since I happen to like John Edwards a lot (he was my second choice candidate after Clark), it’s a comforting thought too. The race isn’t over yet.”

After reading Scheiber, Andrew Sullivan is down on Kerry: “I still haven’t met a clued-in Democrat who’s enthusiastic about Kerry. But Edwards hasn’t yet clinched the deal. He’s got two weeks.”

Matthew Yglesias plays devil’s advocate on Tapped, “On the other hand, the flipside of this point is that he doesn’t have much in the way of experience — especially national security experience. Since this is Bush’s natural area of strength anyway, it doesn’t strike me as particularly wise for the Democrats to pick a candidate open to the charge of being too green to serve as Commander in Chief.”

Unable to decide via policy analysis or qualifications Mark A. R. Kleiman is “unashamed of choosing between the two on the basis of electability.” But, as it stands, he feels even electability is a “toss-up.”

So, he continues, “The press hates Kerry about as much as it hated Gore, and that’s bad news, but is it enough to offset his other advantages? How bad is the risk that the country would decide, come October, that Edwards lacks the gravitas required of a wartime President? Anyone who pretends to know the answers to such questions is blowing smoke.”

Bingo! Kleiman is staking out a position that perhaps, just perhaps, the electorate and not commentators (cyber or print), will choose the next Democratic nominee. And that the candidate of the former may well not be the candidate of the latter. Move over, Mark. We like that foxhole.

Thomas Lang

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Thomas Lang was a writer at CJR Daily.