Tags: The | Power | The | 'Undecideds'

The Power Of The 'Undecideds'

Wednesday, 13 October 2004 12:00 AM

That means discussions of Senator Kerry's legendary flip-flopping, which have gone on for months, were largely ignored by these voters.

Questions raised about Senator Kerry's character or the false documents purporting that George Bush received favoritism in getting into the Air National Guard probably didn't register with most of these folks.

This is deeply troubling because if people haven't followed politics since the first of the year, then candidates can say anything to them and they are probably inclined to believe it.

Take the elaboration on stem cell research that Senator Kerry pushed.

To hear the Senator tell it, we are on the verge of a cure for Parkinson’s and a host of other diseases, including Alzheimer’s. Yet there is no evidence for this.

True, some scientists are more enthusiastic about the prospect for embryonic stem cell research than others but Kerry would be hard-pressed to introduce to the public any scientist who suggests we are within reach of a cure for any disease.

Moreover, President Bush has permitted some embryonic stem cell research, those from embryos already destroyed. He simply does not want to take life in order to try to follow some vague theory. Further, adult stem cells are actually more promising than those from aborted babies.

Kerry and his friends are not telling the whole truth. They say President Bush has outlawed stem cell research. He has not. Private research is free to move forward as they see fit.

Kerry and Company want lots of federal dollars for research; they don't want to do it the hard way by persuading private firms to fund stem cell research. It seems that in Senator Kerry's mind failure to provide federal funds is tantamount to killing an idea.

Poor Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell. They created all their inventions without a drop of federal money. If only they had known that without federal dollars their research would be worthless.

Unfortunately, the President was not entirely clear when he answered the question on stem cell research.

A voter just tuning into the process heard Kerry's charge and the President answering a question as if the voter were well informed on the subject.

Of course, that was more bothersome in the first debate, when the President's performance was sub-par. Still, how is a voter going to know when a candidate is telling the truth? I wish the candidates could be wired with lie detectors.

When John Kerry says he has had one consistent position on Iraq, how is the voter going to know that this is as far from the truth as any representations made in the St. Louis debate.

The President told the audience that the Senator changes his mind with the political winds. Do these newly “enlightened” voters know that is true, or are they more swayed by the fact that the Senator from Massachusetts looked like he was persuasively telling the truth.

On the matter of taxes, a voter got Senator Kerry to look into the eye of the television camera and pledge that if elected President, Kerry will not raise taxes on anyone but the top one percent of current taxpayers.

If Kerry wants to do all of the things he has promised, he cannot possibly keep that pledge. But does the fact that he was willing to make that pledge before God and everyone sink in with these late-blooming voters?

We say in this country that we want everyone to vote. There are dozens of ad campaigns exhorting the citizens of this republic to register and vote. I must say that also bothers me. Do we want voters who know next to nothing about candidates and issues to cast their ballots? Are we not taking a terrible chance that the uninformed voter will be the determining factor in a close election?

In a democratic republic, voters who don't go to the polls are making a statement as well. Perhaps they think their vote is meaningless. They may dislike both major candidates. They may even admit to themselves that they don't know enough to be casting a ballot.

Folks like these should not be pressured into voting. Chances are they are going to vote on the basis of some last-minute issue that arises in every election cycle. Possibly when it comes to Senate and House candidates, they will just vote for the familiar name.

I know a voter who lives in a state where there are many issue propositions on the ballot, in addition to the names of the candidates.

She told me she always votes upon the issue questions because they pertain to her state. Since she lives there, she feels she is qualified to make a decision.

However, she told me she almost never votes for candidates because she really doesn't pay attention to what they do or where they stand and she feels she can't make a wise choice. Other than urging her to pay attention to her candidates, it is hard to argue the logic of her case. I am not disappointed when people like this don't vote.

To get back to the topic at hand, President Bush did very well in St. Louis. Still, to the uninformed, Senator Kerry was also impressive. The question is for whom these last-minute “undecideds” will vote. Right now I am not at all sure. Some polls say they are three-to-one for Kerry. We will know in a few days.

The format of the final debate in Tempe, Arizona favors Senator Kerry again. Depending on who will be watching, this debate could determine the outcome of the election.

Many people tell me that it has been 44 years since presidential candidate debates mattered this much. That could be true but I would argue that the one debate between President Jimmy Carter and Governor Ronald Reagan probably swung the race to Reagan because voters initially weren't sure the actor who played in "Bedtime for Bonzo" was ready for primetime politics. It turned out he was.

I fear that Senator Kerry has been helped most in these debates because he could make charge after charge after charge, not all of which could be answered. Those not rebutted were probably considered by the viewing audience to be true. The President had a much tougher task. He had to defend his Administration against simple charges regarding complex issues.

If he can at least secure a tie in the last debate, he might pull out a victory in the general election. Whoever prepared the President for St. Louis surely needs to do so for Tempe.

Paul M. Weyrich is Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation.


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That means discussions of Senator Kerry's legendary flip-flopping, which have gone on for months, were largely ignored by these voters. Questions raised about Senator Kerry's character or the false documents purporting that George Bush received favoritism in getting into...
Wednesday, 13 October 2004 12:00 AM
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