back to the Black Table

Since the advent of modern presidential primaries -- the election of 1960 -- the political conventions have been little more than a national pep rally, complete with confetti, speeches from the coach and funny hats. The candidate nominated at these parties is one everyone already chose. But in John Kerry's case, he's not the candidate everyone already knows.

Polls put Kerry and Bush in a statistical dead heat, and less than 10 percent of voters are undecided. Most have already opted to be for Bush or against him. But this election cannot be a referendum on Bush, and Kerry should know that. It is not enough to simply be against Bush; voters should feel as though they are for Kerry.

The convention provides the perfect opportunity for John Kerry to reintroduce himself to America. The Black Table has a couple suggestions that, if followed, could make some voters say, "I want that guy!" And that's way better than, "I guess he's better than that other one."

Stop ogling John Edwards.

No one loves you guys as much as you love each other, and it's just embarrassing. Remember those kids who used to make out by the library between third and fourth periods? Everyone thought they were gross.


Take a lesson from Dwight Eisenhower.

He won handily in 1952 after telling voters he would get the nation out of an unpopular war. "I shall go to Korea," he said in an October 1952 speech, suggesting that a visit from the WWII Supreme Allied Commander would put an end to the conflict. It certainly didn't hurt. And while Kerry has said repeatedly that he will not withdraw troops from Iraq, he could address his countrymen's concerns. Send more troops, if that's what's necessary. Limit tours in Iraq to one year, with no stop-loss or other extras that keep the same boots on the ground longer than necessary. But say something specific.


J.F.K. is dead.

So the Republicans get to resurrect Ronald Reagan at their convention. Let them have it. The last dead inspiring Democrat was John F. Kennedy, and frankly, his welcome is worn out. His reign was nearly 50 years ago, and his reputation has been long since sullied. JFK needs to turn in his membership card, and the party needs to stop rehashing him. The future of the party could care less about JFK; we want someone now. So don't do anything that could be called "Kennedyesque."


Did you see Michael Dukakis in that tank?

Remember that every time you hop on a motorcycle, don a wetsuit or rock out on your guitar. Voters don't want an Everyman; they want a President. And you're starting to look like our embarrassing uncle. So you're trying to appear less stiff? Fine. There's better ways to do it than tossing round the ole pigskin with little Jackie Edwards. The heady office casual days of the 1990s are way gone. Time to wear a suit like you mean it.


Correct George Bush's biggest mistake: Include us.

After Sept. 11, 2001, the American public would have done whatever it was asked. George Bush didn't ask for a damn thing. He didn't ask to reject America's dependence on foreign energy sources. He didn't ask Americans to give of themselves via a mandatory public service program. Kerry can change all that and make Americans feel included -- needed. If this war on terror is going to last for years to come, making citizens participate in a role other than victim will make it easier to support.


Take your wife... please.

Theresa Heinz Kerry is likely a nice, intelligent woman who provides support and acts as a sounding board for her husband. But every time she opens her mouth, she sounds like a total weirdo. Elizabeth Edwards is a "mother earth person?" Does that mean she's fat? Or try: "I can't believe I ever even married an American." Yeah, um, that's not a strong selling point for most of us. Oh, and don't mention your opinion that your husband would make "the best nursery school teacher in the world, bar none." That's just kind of creepy.