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« How her weather is | Main | Democrats surrender, Republicans do other, nicer sounding things »


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I agree with you on your points about Kerry. But one of the reasons why the campaign had to go with a 17 state strategy was financial. You're running against an incumbent. He doesn't face a threat in the primaries. You do. You agree to limit your funding in the general election, but that money doesn't kick in until after the convention nominates you. Meanwhile, your opponent can throw money into the hat during May, June and July, and then also take public money during the general.

So, you have to decide to limit yourself to where you can think you can win.

Two other factors:

1) The 527 money, if better spent, could have gone to the states like Arizona. There are laws against coordination, but their efforts in places like Ohio was duplicative. Also, it was a question of timing.

2) During the pre-convention months, one strategic mistake the Kerry people made was the top staff was more concerned about consolidating control than getting the message out. the mistakes (letting Kerry windsurf, letting him ride a bike in a nylon yellow jersey, letting his daughter wear the see-thru dress) shows they were not concerned with doing the detail work.


Kerry's problem can be summed up in one short word: hubris.

He had Bush long before Bush even had the formal renomination. It was in that time frame that the Swift Boat ads came out.

Kerry's tepid response set up the meme of "flip flopping liar" through the rest of the campaign. That Kerry didn't get creamed is a testament to Bush's feeble approval ratings. Bush played on the "false curtain of heroism" that the Swifties set up, and portrayed himself as the true warrior.

Kerry should have rammed it back down their throats from day one, but because he seemed to duck the issue, the perception was that they were telling the truth.

We live in a society where professional wrestling is taken seriously, maybe not as a sport, but as a cultural trope, and that's how people viewed that.


I don't know, but I'll bet that if you asked Kerry why he didn't repudiate the Swift Boat Liars immediately he'd say he didn't want to dignify their claims by responding to them. In other walks of life that might be commendable, but in politics, not.


Thank you. The amount of venom directed at John Kerry in the liberal/left/progressive blogosphere amazes me sometimes. A lot of it based in the belief (IMHO, the mistaken belief) that Howard Dean would have done better. Gore is not immune from this, either. One prominent blogger likes to say that Gore 'should have won' in 2000. In both cases, I say, you go into an election with the electorate you have, not with the electorate you wish you had. I recall a FoxNews poll saying that almost half of Bush voters in '04 believed Saddam Hussein was directly involved in 9/11. So Kerry won almost two-to-one among people who aren't stupid (sorry, I am, in fact, an elitist).

To address what the other commenters have said, my recollection is that Kerry thought that the media would show the Swiftboaters up for what they were. Instead, Russert solemnly intoned that the Swiftboaters "raised serious questions", and the game was on. Kerry's first wife, Julia Thorne Kerry, was so offended that she wanted to make the media rounds in his defense. The campaign turned her down. Kerry, Shrum and a lot of Beltway Dems have, I believe, internalized the myth of the Liberal Media--they think the pundits are their friends. A lot of big Dems still believe this, Biden and a lot of others in the Congressional leadership. I think the scales have fallen from Kerry's eyes. Certainly Hillary Clinton hates the media, Edwards too. I think of the major candidates, Obama is the most vulnerable to falling into this trap. However much they love him now, if political reporters have to choose between John McCain and Barak Obama, Obama's gonna get his heart broken. And mine with it.

greg in ak

kerry, while a good man, epitomized the dem. strategy of picking wonky smart guys who lack much of a personality. i heard after the election one of his people talk about the multi page book they put together explaining his policy on some important thing. great, probably even good ideas. but while they were writing wonky tomes bush was attacking and using the tired, but effective repub, frames of cut taxs, stong defence, blah blah blah. the R's market, the dem's have tried to show how smart they are. at least the good dem's now seem to get that they have to market and sell themselves.

oh and it didn't help that kerry is an ....umm....uninspiring speaker. he is slightly better than a bunch of Ents discussing old times, but not much.



Excellent points. I always forget about the money. Dumb of me. As Mark Hanna said, over a hundred years ago now, "There are two things that are important in politics. The first thing is money and I can't remember what the second one is."

Think money was behind what I think was another of Kerry's tactical mistakes, taking all of that August off?

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