The Nudnik File

Nudnik - n. U.S. colloq. Esp. in Jewish usage: a pestering, nagging, or irritating person

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

An interesting comparison of this year's Presidential campaign to one of a few years back.
An incumbent President from the heartland faces a strong, experienced challenger from the Northeast. The challenger is strong in part because the incumbent seems weak -- inarticulate and gaffe-prone. But not too weak: Insiders make jokes about him, but he seems to connect with ordinary voters outside the Boston-New York-Washington, D.C. corridor. (Within that corridor he is plainly unpopular, and the Northeastern media overwhelmingly oppose his reelection.) When he came to office, the incumbent had only modest experience. No one had thought of him as a major player in American government during the decade before he moved to the White House, and what experience he had prepared him for domestic policymaking, not foreign affairs. But foreign policy has dominated his presidency -- especially a shadowy not-quite-war, not-quite-peace with an adversary who has agents scattered across the globe. Within the administration, cabinet officers have openly battled over the country's foreign policy. One cabinet member has already been fired; after his dismissal the ex-cabinet member went public with scathing criticism of the President. The Secretary of Defense has not been fired -- yet -- but is a source of major controversy.

The challenger mocks the incumbent's lack of sophistication and touts his own greater experience and competence. But he seems stiff and boring on the campaign trail; platitudes roll off his tongue. His party is solidly behind him, but he does not have its heart -- his nomination is a marriage of convenience, not love. A minor event on the campaign trail captures one reason why: A small accident leads the challenger to snap at the person who caused it; the challenger's harsh words contribute to the widespread impression that he is not a nice man. Still, his party is passionately committed to ousting the incumbent, and the challenger can count on sweeping the Northeast. For his part, the incumbent seems certain to carry the South, including border states like Kentucky and Oklahoma. The key battleground will be the Midwest. If the election comes down to a single state, there is a good chance it will be Ohio.
|| Nudnik 9:09 AM
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