Could John Kerry Beat George Bush?

Should Sen. Kerry go on to win the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday, as is expected, that will be the question on many voters minds in South Carolina, and in the much larger states holding primaries on March 2nd. Winning Iowa and New Hampshire will prove nothing about Kerry's electability -- except that he appeals to about a third of less than 2% of the nation's Democrats.

Kerry's interview with Ed Bradley aired on 60 Minutes tonight and it won't hurt his chances. Kerry comes across as a good man. The interview sheds light on his war hero distinction, but fails to depict him as a Renaissance man of sorts, who plays classical guitar and plays hockey.

Kerry would make a good President, if he could beat George W. Bush in the general election. I'm not so sure that he can. He's a New Englander, and seems much more like one than Howard Dean does. (For various reasons, Dean transcends the regional distinction.) The last New England Democrat to be elected President was John F. Kennedy. The Democrats have had much better luck with Southerners, so even if Kerry or Dean were to get the nomination, they would be well advised to add Sen. John Edwards, Gen. Wesley Clark or Sen. Bob Graham to their ticket, to garner some support in the red states.

One thing that wasn't mentioned in the interview was why Kerry won Iowa, and why he's leading in New Hampshire now. He says it's because he's doing a better job of connecting with the voters. "You kind of have to get out of Washington, get away from the language. Get away from the sort of formality, and break out. And that’s what I did."

Maybe, but that's not why he won Iowa or why he'll likely win New Hampshire. It has less to do with him than with Dick Gephardt and the national media. Gephardt spent everything he had running attack ads on Dean in Iowa. Voters there turned away from Gephardt for running negative ads, but got nervous about Dean. Kerry and Edwards seemed like reasonable alternatives, safe votes, good-looking Senators who seemed less angry, more like candidates who knew the system.

Even more important than Gephardt's ads was the national media's negative coverage of Howard Dean, which still continues. The negative blitzkrieg against Dean makes me think that the establishment is really worried about him, and will say and do anything to make sure he doesn't get the nomination. When it comes down to it, they want someone who gets money from large corporate donors, who represents moneyed interests, who is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. (And don't forget, Kerry is also a member of Skulll and Bones, just like Dubya.) They want someone a little more like the Al Gore of 2000, who might rock the boat a little, but not too much. They want someone whom they can control, plain and simple. Even better if they get a Democrat nominee whom George Bush might possibly beat. They want the anti-Dean, and John Kerry may very well be their man.