Despite the great news available over the Internet, there is nothing like being in a country to get a feel of the political situation, and it is fascinating.
The media know Kerry’s only chance now is the debates, and the last few days has seen almost non stop reports on how important the debates are, how Bush has all the advantages, and that Kerry needs to reintroduce himself to America in the debates.
What gets less coverage is little details on the campaigns. Tucked away in the Post was an article mentioing that Kerry had the normal 300 turn up to one of his meet and greet rallies. It also reported how Bush had 42,000 in Ohio turn up for a rally. Yep – 42,000. That is an amazing turnout, with Ohio media saying it is at least twice as large as any previous political rally in Ohio.
This shows that, despite what most media report, the issue is not just Kerry being the worst Democratic candidate in a generation, but that Bush has considerable support in his own right.
The Republican attack machine is world-class in terms of its effectiveness. The media have reported that when they poll people on why they are not voting Kerry, swinging voters repeat Republican attack lines almost word for word “he’s a flip flopper”. This election could almost become a textbook on effective and disciplined campaigning.
As Bush looks more and more likely to win (but still long way from home base), the commentators like Maureen Dowd get more outraegous with their explanations. She explained on TV that Kerry was behind even amongst women (Gore beat Bush by 11% amongst women, so this is highly significant) because Bush and Cheney have said that Al Qaeda will blow their kids up on the way home from school, if they vote Kerry,
Now the average American knows this is crap, so hence Dowd and co just help Bush. It is certainly true that the GOP is portraying Bush as better on security and terrorism, but that is very different from what Dowd claims they say. The public here have got very cynical of the media, helped by CBS.
Most of the last two days I spent amongst a group of several dozen people who were probably without exception on the left of centre. Not a single one of them whom I taked politics with thought Kerry would win, even though they all hoped he would.