The Case for Kerry 2008

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.

[Photo: John Kerry at a private town hall meeting of first responders in Grand Rapids, Michigan which I attended August 2, 2004.]

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15 Comments

  1. 1
    Thomas says:

    Great post, Ron!

    Hillary is in big trouble. I don’t think she makes it out of the primary. I believe that the more moderate Democrats who are looking to the center will eventually side with Mark Warner, not HC. For the sake of argument, let’s say she emerges as the alternate to Kerry/Edwards/Gore/Whoever else you want to name, Kerry will out-debate her and Edwards will out-stump her. Can anybody picture Hillary with a big coat on walking the streets of Iowa? I can’t.

    I know JK will not lose faith just because the media says Clinton is the frontrunner. I mean, they were the ones calling Dean’s nomination a lock, weren’t they?

  2. 2
    Karennj says:

    Ron this is a great refreshing speech. Like you, I think that once the real selection of a nominee begins, Kerry will be head and shoulders above his competition.

    Those of us who have, in fascination, followed Kerry’s actions since 2004 have all seen a person who has seemed to constantly improve, which is an amazing thing to say when in the 2004 primaries he blew the competition out of the water. I am embarrased to say that I have said that at least 2 of his speeches this year were the “best” speech of his life. His appearances on any of the talk shows have been near flawless.

    The more impressive thing is the work and thought he has put into the Faneuil Hall series of speeches. Each one seems to have been crafted with enormous care. The core is the plan presented – which in all cases was thoughtful and forward looking. The last one could be called a plan to heal our rift with the world, a pretty ambitious thing to do. It seems obvious that Kerry intends them to be the intellectual core of a 2008 run. I look forward to any future ones that might happen. Each one so far has changed how I view something.

    Kerry’s actions since 2004 show that he is the person he and his friends said he was. At the beginning of your post, you quoted,
    “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.”
    I think this has been replicated in so many stories that I am surprised that there is still surprise. When Kerry came to NJ, a woman from my town fainted from being in the sun too long and ended up having Kerry walk to the ambulance to see her. She said that he was a very warm, friendly, nice guy, who made it easy to talk to him.

    People are now seeing they were lied to on Iraq and other important issues, most non-lunatics now know that Kerry was a genuine war hero, convincing them that the media distorted his personality should be easy. Simply getting more real stories out will do that.

    On issues, in addition to the Health Care plan you mentioned, even people like George Will now concede Kerry “had a point” when he spoke of how to deal with non-state terrorists. The majority of Americans favor something like Kerry/Feingold. These are the key issues of this time and it is Kerry, not Hillary or Bill Clinton, Gore or Edwards who is leading.

    Kerry’s consistent leadership since 2004 should end the flip flop label – though primary opponents will try to use it – though there is far more flipping and flopping in the views of Hillary, Edwards and Gore over the years than there has been for Kerry.

    So, what’s left – well at least 3 posters commenting on that article on DU, idiotically mentioned windsurfing – which Kerry did a grand total of 4 times in all 2003 and 2004. I saw people winsurfing a few weeks ago while I was on vacation – it was a very graceful looking thing that a few very athletic people were doing. How can anything involving being out in the sun and the water look like anything but good clean fun? (I assume he uses sunsceen) What a contrast to the grubby brush clearer.

  3. 3
    kj says:

    Thomas, the media did project Dean’s nomination as a lock. I remember the abuse heaped on Kerry when took the bold step of mortgaging his house… at the time, I was writing out little checks for $25 every other week to the campaign, even though we could ill afford it, and when Kerry morgaged his house, well, I knew those checks of mine weren’t in vain. Even though Kerry’s numbers were lower than Al Sharptons, here was a man (and his wife) who put his own money where his mouth was, who believed that what he had to offer the country was worth the risk. So, instead of seeing that as a negative, as was the tone at the time, supporters of Kerry saw that as a positive.

    And that’s the way it still is today. Media and opponents can spin Kerry’s statements, demeanor, and life history any way they like… the real Kerry shines through despite the mud.

    An earlier supporter of Kerry’s coined the moniker: John Kerry, the REAL DEAL. Works for me. 😉

  4. 4
    kj says:

    What Karennj said.

  5. 5
    Ron Chusid says:

    There is a long list of “Kerry was right. . .” issues.

    As for windsurfing, it reminds me of a cartoon I posted at Democratic Daily a while back. I wish I could recall who it was by. The gist was people complaining about how htings have gone downhill since Bush won. “And why didn’t we vote for Kerry?” “He windsurfed.”

    They certainly exaggerate the windsurfing. I’ve seen posts at DU claiming that Kerry didn’t respond to the Swift Boat Liars because he was off wind surfing. Actually he responded far earlier than he is given credit for, and at the time of the atack was on his domestic policy tour–not wind surfing. The initial idea was to avoi d letting the Swift Boat Liars distract from him laying out his domestic agenda. As the Swifties didn’t have much impact when they first made noise in the spring, it was reasonable to believe they wouldn’t do much harm when they repeated the same lies in August.

  6. 6
    Karennj says:

    The cartoon was on “Boondocks” It was great.I still don’t get who a sports obsessed country thought windsurfing was bad. My husband thought that Kerry’s counter to windsurfing was to think of a context in which he could throw in the ice hockey video or photos. (He also jokingly questioned why a 6′ 4″ athlete didn’t play basketball. – as if 4 sports weren’t enough.)

  7. 8
    Democrafty says:

    Experience – check.

    Ideas – check.

    Ability to look hot in the presence of firemen – check.

    I don’t know about you guys, but I think he’s in great shape.

  8. 9
    Lemming Herder says:

    While I certainly respect what you are saying, I firmly believe that Kerry is not what either the Democrats or the country need. I supported Kerry after he won the primary last time but he has too long a history and no charisma.

    We need somebody with a little more fire and what is more important, someone that people can relate to. George’s carefuly orchestrated appearances made him a likable kind of fellow for most Americans.

    Link

    Posted by the Lemming Herder at Don’t Be A Lemming!

  9. 10
    LevK says:

    Personally, I never understood the Democrats’ aversion to renominating a former candidate. What better person to choose but someone who has had the campaign experience and knows what the other side is capable of. If anything, he has added to his already stellar credentials, ironed out his weak points, and is so much more ready to face the primaries and general election again than any of his fellow contenders.
    John Kerry is this person, and we would make a grave mistake if we overlooked him due to old stereotypes.

  10. 11
    Ron Chusid says:

    LevK,

    Unfortunately the Democrats’ previous experience with a second nomination, Adlei Stevenson, didn’t work out too well. Of course any Democrat would have had problems against Eisenhower in 1952, and the chances were even lower when he ran for reelection in ’56.

    He has shown improvement in campaign style in his public speaking post-election, and hopefully this will be recognized by the voters. Those voters who looked at the candidates closely in 2004, especially in Iowa and New Hampshire, saw the real Kerry as opposed to the stereotypes. We saw how they voted.

  11. 12
    kj says:

    Lemming Herder,

    I respectfully disagree that we need somebody with “a little more fire” and “someone that people can relate to.” Now, I’m an Aries, a fire sign, I love fire; but the world is already burning. What I think we need is someone with an internal fire, one they can stoke and bank, on their own, based on their own experiences. Kerry has that kind of internal, bankable fire. Intelligent fire. The kind that doesn’t go out with a breeze.

    As for “someone people can relate to,” why don’t we jetson the “let’s have a beer with the guy” watermark for choosing a President and raise it at least to– let’s lead with our strength, our intelligence and ingenuity. Let’s relate to someone who’s been through war and back. Let’s relate to the diplomat in Kerry. Let’s relate to his world experience. Let’s relate to the fact that he is a grownup man in a world short of grownups.

    I WANT someone with a long history. With a mind that can stretch back past the last paragraph he was reading, at least.

    As for Kerry’s charisma, have you met him? Trust me. HE HAS CHARISMA.

  12. 13
    oncall says:

    Ron,

    Right now Kerry gets my vote, but it will be a wide open field. Kerry will have to prove to me that he can win against the Republican candidate. Hopefully Americans are waking up and realizing that is better to have a guy with a sense of gravitas as President rather than a guy who doesn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground. As far as Hillary goes….she has no chance of winning it all. I just want a candidate that will win against whomever the Republican’s pick (probably McCain).

  13. 14
    mbk says:

    Ron, Just reread your closing paragraph… yes, you bet The Swiftboaters would do the same to any serious candidate, and they would have an absolute fieldday spreading Hillary smears . I agree with oncall that Hillary has no chance of winning ;

    The difference between the Swiftboat attempts to attack Kerry this time , and in 2004, is that Kerry has shed the advisors (like Shrum) who urged him not to reply right away, to avoid “negative” remarks. And that he is 100% ready to fire back, repeatedly.. ..and( having just heard him speak, I can confirm kj’s assessment) do it with charisma!)

    And he’d be a good match for McCain , if McCain is the nominee.

  14. 15
    Indie Liberal says:

    I agree with oncall about Kerry having to prove himself against the GOP nominee. I also think he is going to have to continue to get rid of the Swiftie liars.

    The reason I say this is because my dad brought up Kerry’s name a few days ago, we were talking about what they did to Gore, but he feels the Swifties and their ads damaged Kerry very badly.

    Therefore, he is going to have to show that he did respond (despite the opposite) cause they will not go away and silence the doubters, which has many Dems hoping to find a “fighter” or “squeaky-clean” candidate.

    BTW: Excellent post.

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