Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Kerry as Candidate

Americablog has an overly simplistic look at the election: Kerry sucked. The problem with such theories, beyond being incorrect, is that if we blame the candidate rather than looking at the problems which resulted in losses by both Gore and Kerry, we are doomed to repeat such losses.

Following is taken from a couple of my comments disputing the argument that Kerry sucked, as well as follow up discussion:

This post buys into much of the distorted coverage of Kerry from the conservative media. We could complain that first Gore, and then Kerry were bad candidates, but it goes far beyond this.

Of course Kerry wasn't perfect, but many of the problems came from trying to cope with a bad situation which all Democratic candidates would face. Perhaps he didn't handle everything the best, but it would serve our cause better to find better ways to handle such problems.

(The post accuses Kerry of flip flopping over issues such as gay marriage and Iraq). Kerry's problem was that he had to balance a strong support for gay rights against voters who planned to go to the polls to vote against gay marriage. Civil unions seemed like a sensible compromise. On Iraq, he had to balance his opposition to Bush's policies against being labeled a leftist who would not defend America.

Blaming Kerry for the difficult political situation he was in will only doom us to repeat the same pattern. Rather than blaming the candidates, we must take on the system where supporting gay rights and opposing unjust military actions are losing positions.

(A follow comment argued that the key was how many of these issues were presented.)

I agree that many of the issues which are now losers might not be so if we presented them differently. Unfortunately, much of this involves long term arguments, and is beyond what can be done in a single political campaign. The Republicans have been developing their mythology for many years.

There were many things which I might have done differently from Kerry and other Democrats. However, I also admit that if things were done my way, they might still have lost, and perhaps would have lost worse. Even in cases where I disagreed with the campaign's approach, I would not go along with a simplistic argument such as that Kerry sucked.

(In response to further discussion of the IWR vote, and claims that Kerry failed to speak out against the war:)

Kerry did speak out against the war, such as calling for regime change in Washington at the onset of the war. Rove pulled a great trick to divide the left, and unfortunately Kerry did not handle this perfectly.

The Iraq War Resolution was set up to be a no win vote for Democrats--giving choices such as this is Rove's specialty. Bush clearly stated at the time of the vote that a yes vote was not a vote to go to war, but a vote saying that America stood together.

Running against Kerry, the Republicans characterized the vote as a vote to go to war, to portray Kerry as a flip flopper. If a candidate who voted no had run, we would have heard a different story. They would have said that it was not necessary for someone who opposed this war to vote no, and that a no vote meant lack of support for our country, etc.

Rather than a circular firing squad, we need to find better ways to handle such Rove traps. Sometimes I think that it might be best for Democrats to abstain as a group onsuch votes and speak out against the nature of the vote.


Blogger steaknswiss said...

I agree with you! It is counter productive to blame John Kerry. He was a good candidate! We as Democrates look bad when we can't even support one of our own for putting forth a valient effort. We came close to winning.John Kerry was responsible in part for raising record setting donations. The Republicans were worried about beating Kerry. That is why their attacks were so vicious. Unfortunately,the Republicans were able to take advantage of the Swift Boat ads along with some help from the main stream media who kept on playing the ads over and over again in a slow news period. I understand that Kerry, in fact wanted to come out against these ads, but was strongly advised against doing so by his campaign managers. All the while this was going on there was an silent under-reported movement to paint John Kerry as a God-less heathen. I often received e-mails at work, supossedly from ministers reporting on Kerry's anti- God statements and quotes. During the end of the race people were just starting to get comfortable with John Kerry and too get to know him better.Sure there were mistakes made, but in the end He just ran out of time trying to define who he actually was and how he could have lead our nation forward in a positive and respected manner.We have to learn how to manipulate the media and define our candidates before the opposition party does it for us.

9:38 PM  
Blogger IFK Editor said...

Kerry and his campaign and supporters raised more money and received more votes than any democrat before him and narrowly lost by one state. (ohio)

It's pathetic how some Monday morning quarterbacks are treating him, like it was all his fault.

Bush and his GOP operatives ran the most negative campaign in history with all the advantages of a war time Presidential incumbent.

It's funny how people have such short memories. There was a time in 2002 when Bush's ratings were so high that no one would even enter the race because they thought a Bush win was inevitable. Kerry stepped up and made it as close as it was.

No Kerry wasn't a perfect candidate, but he was steady and gave it his all. He chose a dynamic running mate, won all three debates, and gave millions of people hope.

Clinton was charming, but won the first race with help from Ross Perot during a bad economy. He won a second term against a week opponent in the good times of the dot.com economy. Yes he had charisma, but his human faults also sparked a long lasting backlash which the Democrats are still reeling from, thanks to incessant repetition from right wing radio and FOX . Until Dems reclaim the "values" issue and middle America voters it won't matter who we run.

Our PR machine, think tanks and strategists also need to turn up the volume and reframe the issues.

IFK Editor

12:16 PM  

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