Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Case for Kerry 2008

Cross posted from Liberal Values:

The Examiner looks at the prospects of John Kerry running for President again. They start by quoting one voter saying “You get one chance,” the Democrat tells a reporter. “If you can’t win, then it’s time to let someone else try.” Less than an hour later, after meeting Kerry and hearing him speak, she changed her mind. “I always liked what he stood for but felt that he was very snobbish and arrogant,” she says. “He’s not that way. People told me I would change my mind once I met him. And they were right.”

Many of us who supported Kerry in 2004 would say the same thing. The real John Kerry is not the guy portrayed by the media. The argument that he had his chance is a weak one. While some had an unrealistic view that Bush was easily defeatable, the fact is that Kerry defied the odds in coming as close as he did to an incumbent President–especially during time of war. Republicans know better than to ignore the experience of someone who ran and lost. Their front runner, John McCain, lost to George Bush. Richard Nixon didn’t win until his second try. Even Ronald Reagan lost to Gerald Ford before winning the nomination and election. In Europe it is common for opposition leaders to lose before developing enough support for their party to win.

The right wing noise machine has been pushing their propaganda for years. Throw in any candidate, even one as weak as George Bush, and everyone is ready for their lines. People have a much weaker understanding of the positions of the Democratic candidate–partially due to the manner in which their message has been distorted by the right wing noise machine. By the time Kerry wrapped up the nomination there was little time left in which to define himself before he was demonized by the Republicans. What the Democrats need is a leader like Kerry who is gradually getting his message out since 2004 and won’t be starting at a disadvantage in 2008.

Before Kerry can be considered for the nomination again, he will have to dispense with the Swift Boat Liars. He says he is ready:

“I’m prepared to kick their ass from one end of America to the other,” he declares. “I am so confident of my abilities to address that and to demolish it and to even turn it into a positive.”

There’s no doubt that Kerry will be forced to prove this. Assuming he can dispel any doubts held by those in the middle, the disputed claims of right wing partisans should not be used as a reason not to nominate Kerry. If they can make up such lies about Kerry, they can fabricate a case against any one. Sure, there will always be right wingers who will ignore all the evidence and claim the Swift Boat Liars are right. The same people will also continue to claim that we were threatened by WMD from Iraq, that Saddam was working with al Qaeda, that evolution is not established science, and perhaps even that the world is flat. People who are this brainwashed by the authoritarian right will never vote Democratic any ways, and their delusions don’t have any bearing on who should get the nomination.

Kerry is even taking advantage of his worst gaffe of the campaign:

“I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it,” he said during the election, cementing his reputation as a flip-flopper.

The utterance was draped around Kerry’s neck and was widely viewed as a factor in his defeat. And yet now he voluntarily alludes to the gaffe while criticizing Bush’s recent reversal on the handling of enemy combatants.

“No American president should be for torture before he’s against it,” Kerry said at Boston’s Faneuil Hall last weekend, allowing himself a rueful smile as the crowd erupted in cheers.

What is forgotten is that, before his original statement was taken out of context, it was said in a speech which was well received by the audience. There were two different votes which differed on the funding, and what Kerry said made perfect sense, even if sounds absurd when heard as a single line. This, along with dealing with the inevitable attacks from the right wing, provides valuable experience which would give Kerry an advantage over most other Democrats.

The most important question of all is who would make the best President. Of those who are talking about running, I see nobody who can compete with Kerry. Kerry far surpasses Hillary Clinton with the quality of his health care proposals and his principled opposition to Bush’s foreign policy. I don’t see anyone else running with the experience or gravitas to compete with Kerry for the job.


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