Fear and Gnawing in Palm Beach

On Monday, Campaign Desk pointed to stories by the Associated Press’s Ron Fournier and The New York Times’ Adam Nagourney, reporting that Democrats were fearful and had begun questioning the efficacy of Sen. John Kerry’s campaign efforts. Both stories relied heavily on unnamed sources, such as “party officials” or “many Democrats” or “one Democratic member of Congress, who spoke on condition of anonymity.”

Today, Scott Shepard of Cox News Service offers his variation on the fear theme. “There are gnawing concerns within the [Democratic] party that it may have rushed too quickly to the altar with the Massachusetts senator,” Shepard writes in a story picked up by The Palm Beach Post.

On what does Shepard base this startling conclusion? Apparently on reading Nagourney’s piece in Sunday’s New York Times.

The fact that “Kerry did not overtake President Bush in the polls after what may be the worst eight weeks of the Bush presidency,” Shepard writes, “prompted numerous complaints from prominent Democrats in Sunday’s New York Times, sparking several days of hand-wringing in the party.”

Shepard does move the story forward (by a millimeter or two). He says Kerry is responding to the hand-wringers by “muscling up his campaign this week,” running ads in swing states and delivering the keynote speech to the “centrist” Democratic Leadership Council.

There are gnawing concerns within Campaign Desk that Shepard may have rushed too quickly to the altar with the Times’ Nagourney.

Not to mention a nagging suspicion that we have not seen the end of those mysterious “fearful unnamed Democrats” bouncing perpetually off the walls of what now appears to be the echo chamber of the moment.


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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.