Friday, November 12, 2004

Someone's Got To Do It

Yes, this is a little awkward: I'm the only one willing to go out and defend John Kerry against his newly-minted Democratic detractors. I should get hazard pay for this.

My argument is that Kerry was a pretty good candidate who ran a flawed campaign. He was probably the best option on the table for Democrats and, although he lost, he didn't wreck the party, and by the way, it probably isn't entirely his fault. I know, faint praise.

But I'd like to further posit that I don't know if it's going to be possible for any Democrat to win the White House with the crazy Michael Moore left hanging like an albatross around their neck. In order for the Democrats to become a viable national party again, they're going to have to excommunicate the rabid, nutball left. And that's going to require a pretty ruthless political mind.

Can a Democrat pull that off? Let me just say this, if Bill Clinton had been running in 2004, he wouldn't have had a Sister Soulja moment--he would have a Michael Moore moment.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good piece.

As a centrist Democrat, I thought Kerry was a basically sound but unexciting candidate who did a decent job of repointing the party back at the center and away from some of the possible catastrophes, such as nominating Dean.

Going into Tuesday, I thought he had done a good enough job of it that I thought that, whatever the flaws in his platform, he would pull it out. Clearly this turned out to be in error.

The marching orders for the next four years for the Democratic Party have to be to expand the party by reaching out to moderates and centrists.

Anonymous said...

Interesting article. While I agree that prominent liberals are dumping Kerry like spoiled milk, I think you give Kerry too much credit. Let us not forget his lack of a coherent set of policy initiatives other than "Bush did it wrong; I would do the same, only differently". I would also like to think that a "pretty good candidate" would have something to show for a 20-year history of holding elected office. Add to that his devisive anti-war activism in the 70s which is bound to raise the hackles of the American voter while we are currently at war with a different foe.

I don't think that Kerry was a "pretty good candidate". Elections are not decided by resume.

I will certainly concede that there were few options put up for the Democrat nomination that would have been better. I also agree wholeheartedly that Kerry did not wreck the Democrat party.

Anonymous said...

In a way, this was not a contest between Sen Kerry and
Pres Bush. Kerry did not give tough interviews and one never did get much of a feeling for where he stood. He ran as "not Bush". The contest, IMO, was between the media (CBS dropped all pretence of reporting facts and just signed up to attack Bush), the UN, foreign "old Europe" governments, Michael Moore/Hollywood, and so on. We Repubs are gloating but the election was quite close. Swift Boat Vets and bloggers pulled it through. Pres Bush--excellent president, decent campaigner, mediocre spin-meister.

James Wigderson said...

But surely there were better alternatives to Kerry on the table. Gephardt would have at least put Missouri in play.

I talked to a couple of professional Democrat types from Ohio prior to the election and they agreed with me the biggest problem the Democrats had was making a coherent stand on the War on Terror. Most Democrats, they told me, just "wished that it never happened" and that it wasn't an issue.

In that sense, Kerry was the perfect embodiment of the party's positions.

David said...

One thing is for certain -- the crazy, nutball far left is not going to lose many members or repent its ways. If the Democratic party is successful in marginalizing the far left, then we should see a sort of uber-Nader challenge in 2008 that may make Democratic defeat more likely, anyway. This is all supposing of course that the Republicans do not overreach in the next 4 years.

SOG475 said...

I have to say that John Kerry showed more honor and civility in his concession speech than he ever showed before.

I personally think the scale tipper for a lot of people was when Bush "outed" Kerry on his lack of accomplishment in the Senate....and his constant votes against Defense and Intelligence.

I think we all need to remember that there are Liberals in the Democratic party and there are LEFTISTS. The Leftists have highjacked the party and we will continue to have nut cases like Dean, Soros, Moore and their ilk calling the shots until the Dems do some serious ideological housecleaning.
Liberals are for abortion, illegal immigrant rights and universal health care.
Leftists attack religion, marriage and free enterprise. The leftists follow a pretty consistent pattern with the logic processes of Lenin and Trotsky.
Liberals follow Mondale, McGovern, Humphrey and FDR.
Lets not confuse the liberals who have been patriots with these communists in Democratic clothes on the way left.
I am a die hard Republican but I believe we need a viable two party system with a loyal opposition for our democracy to work effectively.

jaybird said...

Basically I agree. While Kerry made some mistakes and definitely could have run a better campaign, that wasn't his biggest problem. The biggest problem that he had to contend with, and which ultimately undermined his candidacy, was that the Democrats as a party decided to become a club for the looniest, the kookiest, the most absurd elements that could be rounded up, with the only requirement for admission being to hate Bush, the more irrationally and passionately the better.

It might be said that Kerry would have been better served to just reject and jettison those elements. But really, could he? The problem is that they were everywhere in the Democrat party, and through George Soros, and others, they controlled a lot of money.

So while Kerry tried to quietly and subtly distance himself from them, because instinctively he knew that their road was a road to disaster, Kerry's mistake was in continuing to believe that he had to at least include their positions into his calculus for victory, which put him squarely on the veritable horns of a dilemma. It made him appear ambigious at best, and deceitful at worst.

For example, on the one hand, to at least marginally appease the kooks in his party, he had to appear anti-war. That's where the wrong war, wrong place, wrong time stuff came in. But at the same time he knew that the mainstream of America was not on that page, so he had to say that it was a war we must win, and that he could do it better. That mutually inconsistent mixed message was never going to get any traction.

Likewise Kerry's hopelessly muddled critique of Bush's failure to "bring in the allies." Kerry wanted to capitalize on the anti-war positions taken by France, Germany, Russia, et. al., but he couldn't do that without insulting the countries that did join in the coalition. So, after insulting the allies that did join, Kerry's position that he'd do better "at bringing in our allies" almost automatically degenerated into a morass from there.

But even still, as the final election results show, with all that Kerry was still in the game. If he had sorted all that out better, particularly if he had been a little less accepting of the proposition that he needed to appease the kooks that dominated his party, he might have won.

Anonymous said...

"The biggest problem that he had to contend with, and which ultimately undermined his candidacy, was that the Democrats as a party decided to become a club for the looniest, the kookiest, the most absurd elements that could be rounded up...." -- Jay Bird

Remember, both sides have their kooks.

http://www.bju.edu/letter

DB said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

All those so concerned about how Senator Kerry lost the election should read this week's edition (Nov. 15) of Newsweek. After reading the entire publication you will come away with a feeling of relief that Kerry lost. Why? Because if the people around him were to join him in the White House we would all be in big trouble due to the way they handled his campaign. Bad, very bad.

beniyyar said...

The American Democratic Party has been taken over by the extreme American Left, fanatics who demand absolute allegiance to their ideas, principles, and programs, and who, regarding their Republican political opponents, truly adhere to the principle of "take no prisoners." And perhaps for the first time in American politics, these Leftists are fabulously wealthy capitalists, people who have benefitted as a direct result of a free market system they profess to despise. And because they wield enormous financial clout in the Democratic party they have achieved positions of leadership and influence that have ultimately given them the power to determine the Party's far Left and exclusive agenda. Only when and if the Democratic Party decides to moderate and limit the financial and ideological input of these wealthy fanatics will it be able to once again become a more legitimate Left of Center party and a much more representative American political entity.

Anonymous said...

Have you always bandied about the term anti American to describe your political opponents? For whatever reason you do, it's wrong.

Anonymous said...

beniyyar,

"The American Democratic Party has been taken over by the extreme American Left, fanatics who demand absolute allegiance to their ideas, principles, and programs, and who, regarding their Republican political opponents, truly adhere to the principle of "take no prisoners."

Oh, nonsense. Yes, there is a vocal group of liberals in the Democratic Party. Yes, they've got even more liberal during the last several years as things have gotten more polarized.

But the idea that they demand absolute allegiance is just plain nonsense. Kerry criticized the handling of the war, but campaigned in favor of staying Iraq and winning it. Now, perhaps you think he was exaggerating his commitment, and you very likely think he would have done a poor job of prosecuting the war. Fine. But it's hardly a demonstration of "absolute allegiance" to Michael Moore.

Moderates like Governor Warner of Virginia are more than welcome in the Democratic Party, and at a time when religious conservatives are attempting to lead a putsch against moderate Republicans like Specter.

Kevin F said...

In regards to the article on The Weekly Standard, I disagree with the opinion that John Kerry was a good candidate and deserves better than the treatment he has received since losing his bid for the presidency.

I myself feel that it was an insult to the American people that a man like John Kerry could ever be in contention for the position of president.

I feel that Mr. Last merely read Senator Kerry's resume and never called any references.

Gargoyle said...

Good post. It seems that Democrats are looking for anything or anyone to blame instead of admitting a flawed platform. Of course calling Whoopie Goldberg and others the "heart and soul of America" didn't help Kerry either.

Like your blog and read your articles in The Weekly Standard.

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