Kremlin watches US election, wistfully roots for Kennedy
Moscow — Maybe Teddy Kennedy can make it after all. Better him than a "hypocritical" President Carter or an "anti-Soviet" Ronald Reagan. This is the latest, post-primary, pre-convention version of the US election campaign to emerge from commentaries in the Soviet press -- commentaries that combine a wistful leaning toward Senator Kennedy, a deep distaste for President Carter, lingering but muted dislike of Mr. Reagan, and puzzlement at John Anderson.
Mr. reagan is not criticized very much -- reflecting what is seen here as a grudging Kremlin realization that he might win. But he latest commentaries imply the hope that Mr. Kennedy might somehow make it, after all.
The New York correspondent of Pravda, Tomas Kolesnichenko, stresses that Senator Kennedy intends to carry his fight into the convention. Both Mr. Kolesnichenko and an observer for the newspaper Socialist Industry (like Pravda, published by the Central Committee of the Communist Party) describe the Kennedy hope of freeing delegates from first-ballot commitments
The Pravda correspondent noted that Mr. Carter had lost a bloc of Northeastern states. The Carter delegate count was a "paper majority" and "simple arithmetic" could not be used in this campaign.
Voters had showed themselves filled with "deep pessimism." They were "dissatisfied" with Mr. Carter's policies and distrusted his competence. Many Democrats didn't bother to vote at all. Many others defected to the Republican side. Opposition to Mr. Carter within the Democratic Party was "very strong" -- Pravda cited New York Gov. Hugh Carey and Sen. Daniel P. Moynihan.
Pravda quoted New York Times columnist James Reston as saying Mr. Carter had lost the confidence of Democratic liberals. No one, Mr. Reston was cited as saying, could see a John Anderson victory, but Mr. anderson might still win a considerable number of votes.
Americans faced a "choice without a choice" -- and had to be on guard in case Mr. Carter launched another foreign-policy initiative to prop up his sagging fortunes.
Echoing the Kremlin line, the Pravda correspondent said Mr. Carter would do much better for peace and for himself by forsaking "silly adventurism" for more detente, support for the SALT II treaty on strategic arms, and disarmament across the board.
Socialist Industry's observer, whose words don't carry as much weight as Pravda's but do represent one line of official thinking, mentioned Mr. Reagan briefly, saying he was singlemindedly anti-Soviet and wanted a strong US defense
Amercians had to choose between his "dangerous and malicious words" and the "hypocritical adventurism" of Mr. Carter.
The observer spent much time trying to analyze Senator Kennedy's prospects. The Kremlin prefers Mr. Kennedy because of his liberalism and because of nostalgia for his late brother, John F. Kennedy.
Senator Kennedy calculates, the commentary said, that changes in both domestic and international events will benefit him at the Democratic convention.
The US economy was in a worse recession than Mr. Carter had predicted. Inflation was growing. Unemployment was spreading at a "catastrophic" rate. A Harris poll showed 75 percent of Americans believing they were in a serious recession and 68 percent believing unemployment would worsen.
The economic situation could not help the President. Nor could the country's "intoxication" with the military chauvinism abroad.
In part the latest commentaries reflect wishful thinking on the part of the men in the Kremlin. So anti-Carter are Soviet leaders that they'll take anyone but him.
Still, the commentaries reflect caution. Much could still happen to upset predictions.
Kremlin leaders are convinced (from their own experience here) that US elections are rigged in advance by a few powerful figures in the US establishment.
But they don't know which way it going to go.
All they know is that they like neither of the two front-runners. Mr. Anderson probably can't win, they think -- and that leaves the Kremlin hoping for a Kennedy miracle.