The Non-News on John Kerry

This is hardly surprising but when asked, Kerry kept the door open to run again:

Afterwards, while answering a question from a viewer on the program YOUR SHOW about why he chose not to run, Kerry said he had decided it wasn’t the right time.

“Could that change?” Kerry said. “It might. It may change over years. It may change over months. I can’t tell you, but I’ve said very clearly I don’t consider myself out of it forever.”

Kerry is quoted further later in the article:

When asked whether he expected that decision to change in time for the 2008 race, Kerry said, “If suddenly the field changed or the dynamics of the nation shifted, who knows? You might look at it differently, but I don’t see that. I don’t foresee that. That’s not where I am today and that’s not what I’m doing.”

This is hardly news, and is the same answer I would have expected if Kerry was asked this when he dropped out of the race. It was clear that Kerry was dropping out because he had little chance to win with Hillary Clinton appearing to be a strong front runner and Barack Obama capitalizing on the anti-Hillary sentiment. He realized that he would have a much better chance of fighting against the war and for environmental issues if he was not a candidate. It was also clear that Kerry remained interested in being President and was interested in running again in the future if he thought he could win.

Since then Hillary has weakened, Obama has yet to answer questions as to what he would do as President, and Edwards has failed to demonstrate that he is remotely qualified to be President. It is still doubtful that conditions could change by this fall to the point where Kerry would have a reasonable chance. Kerry is just being honest in speculating that their are hypothetical possibilities he could run again if conditions changed enough, even though he realizes this is unlikley this year.

Kerry’s answer was reported far more than such non-news deserves to be, and received the expected responses in the blogosphere, both right and left. Some liberal bloggers repeated the anti-Kerry sentiments which have been debunked in the past, and which I’d address in far more detail if I thought there was any chance Kerry was going to reenter the race in the near future. Perhaps the most absurd is the claim that Kerry really won in 2004 but allowed the election to be stolen. As there has been no evidence of a stolen election to date, over two years following the election, there was certainly no chance that Kerry could have proved that the election was stolen in the narrow window after the election. Kerry has spoken out about the real problems of voter suppression, but these arguments cannot be used to change the results of an election after the fact.

In comparing Kerry to the current candidates, one thing is very clear. He would make a far better President than any of the current candidates. What isn’t clear is who would make the better candidate. Who ever runs in 2008 will have a much easier task than in 2004 in not having to run against an incumbent during time of war. They will also have the advantage of far more people identifying themselves as Democrats and backing a generic Democrat over a generic Republican by a wide margin.

As long as the Democratic nominee wins, they will be considered to have been a strong candidate, as Bill Clinton was despite his many failings. The conventional wisdom is that Kerry was a poor candidate, and that people like Hillary Clinton or Obama would be stronger campaigners. As is often the case, the conventional wisdom only looks at part of the story. Who ever runs in 2008 will face the full force of the right wing noise machine, and if history repeats itself even liberal bloggers and journalists will pick up their memes. Following their losses, Dukakis and Gore were also considered weak candidates, and the same could happen to the next candidate if the right wing noise machine can still get out their message to a more skeptical public.

None of this will probably matter for 2008. As was the case with Gore, it will take longer for Kerry to take control of his public reputation and reverse all the negative stories spread about him. Kerry will continue to take the lead on issues such as getting out of Iraq and the enviornment. If he is successful, his achievements in the next few years could over shadow all the negative claims and leave him in a position more comparable to Gore’s current position. It will take both a considerable improvement in Kerry’s reputation and a total collapse of the Democratic front runners for that to be a possibility in time for the 2008 nomination.

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3 Comments

  1. 1
    Jack Reed says:

    “John Edwards had failed to demonstrate that he is remotely qualified to be President?” Huh. I think you may be confusing cash (which Hillary has) and Flash (which Obama has)with actual substance (which only Edwards has demonstrated.) Between Clinton’s vacillations and Obama’s failure to grasp that the President actaully has to MAKE POLICY, I think Edwards is the only one in the field to demonstrate he has a real grasp of the challenges facing the US as well as their solutions. Everyone else is just lip synching.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    No, I’m not looking at either cash or flash. Edwards is a great trial lawyer and can give a good talk. He’s playing the voters like he’d play a jury. That doesn’t mean there’s any substance behind it.

    If there is some real substance there, he’ll have to show it before I could consider supporting him. Similarly, Obama is going to have to give more specific answers on the issues than he has so far. As for Hillary, there’s a lot she’d have to change to consider her.

  3. 3
    Nick says:

    Ron says

    “Who ever runs in 2008 will face the full force of the right wing noise machine, and if history repeats itself even liberal bloggers and journalists will pick up their memes. Following their losses, Dukakis and Gore were also considered weak candidates, and the same could happen to the next candidate if the right wing noise machine can still get out their message to a more skeptical public”

    First of all Ron is right. Second, keep some history in mind about 2008. Throughout the whole 20th cetury, except for 1918 and 1920 (when the GOP won control of Congress in 1918 nad won back the presidency in 1920) no party even won the first presidential election that was held afte they won control of both houses on Congress in a mid-term.
    As for 1920, the election that year was Warren Harding-a man considered by most historians to be one of the worst presidents ever and a total incompetent. If the price we pay for a Democrat winning in 2008 is we elect a Democratic Warren Harding, maybe the GOP isn’t so bad after all. that said, I’m leaving now-to go get struck by lightning!

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