Picture this scenario:

Democratic Presidential nominee John Kerry takes a break from his whirlwind campaign tour to fly back to Washington DC to cast the crucial sixtieth vote to extend unemployment benefits for millions of Americans left jobless in the Bush economy. He emerges from the Senate Chambers to a triumphant rally with unemployed workers in which he blasts the White House’s callous indifference to the plight of ordinary Americans and pledges to keep fighting to send him looking for a new line of work.

Of coure, that’s not what happened today. Instead, John Kerry spent the day campaigning in Kentucky, a state which, by his party’s count, has lost over 36,000 manufacturing jobs since Bush took office. And, with 59 votes, the ammendment failed.

Kerry’s spokespeople are claiming that the Republicans staged the timing and the closeness of the vote to embarrass him, and I’m sure their right that the Republicans were out to trap John Kerry. But it’s a trap that he walked directly into. More importantly, it’s a vital opportunity to use the power of his office by addressing, in however insufficient a manner, the needs of his constituents, and his hundreds of millions of potential constituents-to-be.

The people of Kentucky didn’t need John Kerry in their state today to talk the talk and shake hands and take photos and raise money telling George Bush to bring it on. They needed him in DC doing his job by defending those who’ve lost theirs.

As November approaches, John Kerry makes it that much more difficult for himself to get working-class voters to take the time out of their day to cast a vote for him every time he has better things to do with his time than cast a vote for them.

(Cross-posted, for the first time, over at the Undernews Blog.)

Bush is now touting declining unemployment numbers:

Unemployment dropped today to 5.7 percent. That’s not good enough. We want more people still working. But nevertheless, it is a positive sign that the economy is getting better.

But as the Baltimore Sun reported:

The nation’s unemployment rate dropped sharply to a 14-month low in December, but underlying that positive number was grim economic news – only a handful of new jobs were created and hundreds of thousands of discouraged people dropped out of the work force.

In other words, the Bush economy is so strong, Americans have given up on even looking for jobs in it.