Morris's involvement in Yushchenko's campaign even bore several signatures of the tactics that he made famous when he was working by Clinton's side in the 1996 reelection campaign: clandestine meetings, an emphasis on polls and even an attempt at "triangulation," which is the consultant's fancy word for how politicians should capture the political center...
The consultant, who when working for Clinton was so poll-driven that he took surveys about where the president should vacation, said his main contribution to this campaign was to urge exit polling on election day. By immediately publicizing the results, Yushchenko's campaign would draw supporters into the streets to celebrate -- thus presenting Ukrainian authorities with an angry mob if they tried to tamper with the vote.
Yushchenko, he said, rejected his proposed triangulation, which was to try to unite Ukrainian nationalists and the country's Russian-speaking minority with a platform pledging bilingualism for official government documents and proceedings.
Two points. First of all, I wonder how much Morris got paid for that information and I wonder if Yuschenko's people feel they got their money's worth. Was it the exit polls that got people out? I have my doubts. It might have been a part of it but the Ukrainians know more than people think they do about how their government has worked. They are fairly cynical about it. I think they had a sense for what happened even without the exit polls.
The second point is that this shows clearly that Yuschenko has good judgment. To triangulate is to take no real position. It is to be morally adrift. And it sets a course of acting which becomes a real habit in the future. When in trouble, don't speak the truth or take a stance, triangulate, tap dance between the two camps making sure that you give each one something they can't refuse. Buy them off.
That is exactly what Kuchma spent most of his time doing. And it would have been disastrous with Yuschenko. It is his sincerity and his humanity that have captured his supporters. These are principled stances. To end up looking like a man with no core principles other than to get elected in the next cycle--remind you of anyone?--would have been the end of Yuschenko and would have put back reform here for years.
To his credit, Yuschenko rejected it. Principled people would have.