John Kerry may have lost the 2004 election but he is clearly running for 2008. His consolation prize for losing was a couple million names on his email list. Since last November he has been busy stuffing my email box. It was vital to him that I knew he was doing his best to put kids first, stop John Bolton’s nomination as our U.N. Ambassador, keep Senate filibuster rules in place, submit bills to help Iraq war veterans, among other efforts. Occasionally I bite and sign an electronic petition. It’s a pretty painless thing to do. But I realize these efforts don’t amount to much. I understand what is really going on. John Kerry doesn’t want me to forget about him when he runs for president again in 2008. Next time he figures he doesn’t have to spend quite as much effort going house to house in key precincts in early primary states. Instead he can solicit those of us on his massive mailing list for campaign cash.
Well, I have news for you John. It’s not that I don’t respect you or your positions. You are a liberal Democrat after all. It’s just that, well, you are yesterday’s news. I like many other Democrats was lukewarm when you emerged from the Democratic pack. On the other hand there was the alternative: four more years of George W. Bush. So it was easy to write those checks. I sent you $450 in the last campaign. When I couldn’t give any more money to you because of election laws, I gave to the Democratic National Committee. And I gave lots more to MoveOn.org and other interest groups. But here’s the thing John: just because I gave you money didn’t mean I was enthusiastic about you as a candidate. And I’m sure not enthusiastic at all about you running for president again.
2004 was a year when a Democrat should have won the White House. George W. Bush had racked up an appalling record. But still you lost. I admit you did well in the debates. But you still bungled the larger campaign. Your campaign seemed to be run by a bunch of rank amateurs. They were clueless responding to organizations like the so-called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. So much mud was slung at you but you didn’t know how to sling it back. For months you dithered over actions like calling Bush to task for his bungling on the war in Iraq. Maybe you spent too much time fretting that maybe it would make you look unpatriotic. Or perhaps you were too intimidated by the Swifties to simply acknowledge the truth that Howard Dean so eloquently and convincingly stated back in 2003. Whatever. Rather than setting the agenda you fell for every trap the Republicans put out for you. Rather than being on the offense you were continually on the defense. You could have acknowledged that your vote on the Iraq war was simply a mistake. Then you would have had credibility. Instead you tried to have it both ways.
You came across as an egghead because you are an egghead. I am sure you had your share of adversity in life, and I certainly acknowledge that you served honorably in Vietnam. But you come from a privileged and elite background and it shows. I’ve never seen anyone who looked more at home in a three-piece suit than you. You must have been born in a suit. So you didn’t connect with ordinary Americans. Whatever sense of empathy you tried to project, we could tell it was insincere.
And now with 2008 clearly in mind you are doubtlessly trying to follow your media handlers’ advice by trying to project the image of a new John Kerry. The new John Kerry seems to be markedly more anti-gay and “mainstream” than the one that ran in the election. Now you want to pretend you are a Washington outsider. Sorry John, you are so intimately connected with the inside the Beltway political establishment that you might as well be a zebra trying to change its stripes. You look ridiculous and insincere in this latest role. We all see through it. But somehow you find yourself saying stupid stuff like the Massachusetts’s Democratic Party made a mistake for supporting same sex marriage in their platform. You said it does not conform to the broad views of party members.
Are you sure about that John? My sense is that if you asked most Democrats they’d say they definitely support gay marriage. They might support civil unions, but not because they believe in a “separate but equal” status for gay couples, but because they realize it may be a pragmatic step toward ensuring that gays someday have the same privileges as any other citizen. In other words John, a mainstream Democrat believes passionately in equal rights and responsibilities for all. Who is the out of the mainstream Democrat, John? I would say you are, particularly because I don’t believe you really believe your own dogma. When you said during the campaign that you were for civil unions but not for gay marriage we Democrats sensed your position was just marketing. Your latest image remaking is bogus too.
You want to know why so many of us were drawn to Howard Dean? It was because he was the real deal: a man who said what he meant and was passionate in his convictions. It was obvious from the tone of his voice, his body language, his red face and his throbbing neck veins that he meant what he said. He didn’t mince words. He wasn’t afraid to call a spade a spade. He connected. You don’t.
So sorry John. I am sure you are a nice man and one of our better senators in Congress. But you really aren’t all that special and I don’t consider you presidential material. I am sure you would have been infinitely better than the bozo currently in the Oval Office. At least you have some critical thinking skills. But there are many better Democratic candidates out there. In match ups of potential Democratic challengers you are an also ran. Forty percent of Democrats surveyed prefer Hillary Clinton. You only draw eighteen percent.
John, if you are the Democratic nominee in 2008 you will likely get more money from me. We Democrats must remain united, even if our picks turn out to be somewhat odious. But I will be working for someone else during the primaries. Do not assume that because I sent you money that I am necessarily enthusiastic about you as a candidate. For most of us on your precious mailing list, you are yesterday’s news.