You want a President who can tell a joke with the timing of Comedy Central anchor? Clearly, John Kerry is not your man. Watching him as he botched a joke he's told a hundred times clearly shows that Jon Stewart's seat is absolutely, positively safe.
However, John Kerry's roller-coaster of a YOUTUBE moment yesterday showed far more than his lack of comedic timing, it showed how the political communication process has changed, how rapid response better be a hell of a lot more rapid and how candidates and their consultants better get ready for a new world of honesty and admission of mistakes.
I've heard that once upon a time if someone did a negative commercial or attacked you, you tried to get up your response on air in 24 hours. Seriously, it's so 1996 I find it funny. Some of the early criticism of John Kerry yesterday was fair. When a million people have seen you screw up and it's not even 8:00 am on the West Coast, well, you better start any response with "I screwed up."
2008 will be the first election with YOUTUBE and whatever else comes down the technology superhighway in the next 24 months. It's hard to fathom with bloggers linking to two or three clips in a single post but if there had been an election last November? No YOUTUBE.
Every single person who might run in 2008 will have a YOUTUBE moment. The road is just too long, the appearances too frequent, the lack of Starbucks in Iowa too dramatic, for each and every candidate not to say something that will catch a fire online.
In John Kerry's case, he has been, literally, criss-crossing the country for weeks campaigning. Sure, he's been campaigning in Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina, wouldn't you if you were him? But he also made good on his commitment to help Ned Lamont unlike virtually every other major Democrat with the expection of General Clark. He was in Los Angeles helping Phil Angelides for goodness sakes. He was tired and he botched a joke.
However, what happens after you screw up is what matters. John Kerry stood up and admitted he made a mistake. George Allen called a kid a monkey and there, frankly, wasn't a hell of a lot he could do. Real candidates who, after all, are just real people, who make real mistakes, will be able to stand up and say, "I am such a fool."
Real racists will go into hiding and starting reading their opponent's old novels looking for the dirty parts.
Two final points about yesterday's right wing swarm and the story on John Kerry. With the clear exception of John McCain, who I strongly suspect didn't have the whole story when he demanded John Kerry apologize, the chickenhawks were in full force.
Why? Well, the only thing a chickenhawk hates more than John Kerry talking about Iraq is when their mother hides their GI Joes. Who stood up for John Kerry? Veterans and war heroes like Max Cleland. Who screamed the loudest on the right? A former FOX NEWS spokesperson. And Drudge who lifted a quote to make John Kerry look bad.
And, in this article, yet again, another "DC strategist" sounds off on John Kerry without having the balls to use his name. John Kerry shouldn't keep his mouth shut, you should - you anonymous piece of crap. You've got an opinion? Stand up and deliver it under your own name and let's YOUTUBE that.
Even with YOUTUBE and a blog swarm, an early stumble on the response and President Bush calling someone else "smart, in the end, the truth comes out. Just like, in the end, the truth about Iraq and 9/11 and Tora Bora and Halliburton has come out.
John Kerry botched a joke. George Bush fucked up a war. Pick one.