Tuesday, May 11, 2004
A cute little trap for Kerry
The Republicans are making political hay over the fact that John Kerry missed the vote to extend unemployment benefits. But it occurred to me that this may have been a deliberate trap to make him look bad. I suspect that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist had one or two Republican Senators in his pocket who he could have pressured into switching their votes if it had been necessary. Indeed, he may have deliberately encouraged some Republicans to vote for the measure so that it would fail by exactly one vote -- Kerry's.
So if Kerry had rushed back to Washington, D.C. to vote, he would have wasted a day (at least) of campaigning and disrupted his schedule for what in all likelihood would have been a pointless gesture. But how does Kerry explain this in a believable manner to all those upset Democrats and blue-collar workers?
If my analysis is correct, the amusing thing is that the Republicans can play this game over and over. The amendment to extend unemployment benefits can be attached to other measures, forcing Kerry to again have to choose between interrupting his campaign or being blamed for the loss. If he comes back for a vote, one Republican Senator who previously voted for the benefit extension will switch (perhaps because the amendment isn't "germane" enough this time). Or maybe one Republican Senator will have a last-minute family emergency and miss the vote. All the Republicans have to do is come up with a plausible excuse, and the game can continue.
After all, if Kerry looks bad now, think how much worse he'll look if he has a chance to redeem himself and blows it again. And again.