Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Democrats who blame Kerry are missing point

The Republicans often win Presidential elections by demonizing the Democratic candidate, and Democrats have been falling for this. We've seen the post-election criticism that Dukakis was a bad candidate, Gore was a bad candidate, and now that Kerry was a bad candidate. Only Bill Clinton escapes this, but there are not many Bill Clintons out there.

E.J. Dionne
warns about the dangers of blaming Kerry for the loss:
This habit is dangerous because dissing Kerry is an easy way for Democrats to evade discussion of what the party needs to do to right itself.

By focusing on the past, the Kerry alibi allows Democrats to avoid engaging the future. In 2008, the Democrats could nominate a candidate who combines Harry Truman's toughness, JFK's charm and FDR's gifts of leadership -- and still face many of the problems Kerry confronted. Blaming everything on Kerry as the supposedly elitist, stiff and indecisive Massachusetts liberal is the Democrats' version of cheap grace.
Dionne notes that the Republicans would have attacked any other Democratic nominee as they attacked Kerry, likely with the same results:
That raises the larger question. The Republicans and their allies spent millions taking Kerry apart. They would have done the same to John Edwards, Wesley Clark or Dean. Would they have handled the attacks better? Who knows? Would they have looked a lot worse for the wear? You bet.

Bush's lieutenants always understood that their candidate couldn't win unless his Democratic opponent was turned into Frankenstein. This crowd may not know how to beat the Iraqi insurgency, but they sure know how to make Democrats look bad.
If Democrats are going to win in the future, they need to stop using Kerry (or Gore, or Dukakis) as an excuse and turn to the real problem of finding better ways to fight the Republican Noise Machine. If this is not done, the next Democratic nominee will suffer the same fate as other recent candidates.


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