St. Louis Oracle

St. Louis-based political forecasting plus commentary on politics and events from a grassroots veteran with a mature, progressive anti-establishment perspective.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Kerry recovers after debate gaffe

Who'd've thunk it? The major gaffe that everyone expected in the debates finally came in the final debate. But while the overmatched president teetered but never fell, it was the confident (OK, cocky) challenger that ended up saying something that sent the polls heading in the opposite direction.

While John Kerry pummelled President Bush in substance in the three debates, he squandered that advantage with his now famous gratuitous reference to Mary Cheney, the lesbian daughter of Vice-President Dick Cheney. It couldn't have come at a worse time. With the undecided vote waiting until the conclusion of all three debates to decide whether to fire their president, Kerry's remark diverted their attention and blunted his campaign's momentum. Most early post-debate polls moved several points in favor of President Bush.

From all appearances, this gaffe was a team effort, not merely a slip of the tongue. After the debate but before the polls surfaced, both Democratic veep nominee John Edwards and the Kerry campaign manager were making similar public references to Ms. Cheney. The campaign manager called her "fair game," a chilling choice of words. The public recognized the callous insensitivity immediately.

While clearly a negative for Kerry, the remark should not be what determines voters' choice for their highest office. Nearly a week later, Americans seem to have reached the same conclusion, and the Zogby tracking poll has returned to a dead heat.

The Oracle still sees Kerry ultimately winning decisively, both nationally and in Missouri. He just needs to keep his Machiavellian side in check.


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