Obama Appears Unlikley To Repeat Kerry’s Errors of 2004

Prior to the conventions in 2004 John Kerry had a lead against George Bush but made three errors. He made a poor vice presidential pick, he failed to respond adequately to the Swift Boat Liars, and he failed to take advantage of his convention to make the case against Bush. Obama is unlikely to repeat these errors.

We will probably know who the vice presidential pick is any day now. Without knowing the answer it is premature to say he will do better than Kerry, but at least it is safe to predict he will not make the same mistake. Both Kerry and Obama have learned an important lesson from the Swift Boat attacks and any Democratic candidate will be better prepared this time. Kerry wanted a positive convention without criticism of Bush, but Obama plans to take on McCain:

Barack Obama’s campaign plans to use the four-day Democratic National Convention next week to relentlessly portray John McCain as a carbon copy of President Bush, in a strategic shift foreshadowed by two days of tougher attacks on his GOP rival.

The criticism itself, which will focus on the Arizona senator’s economic policies, ties to lobbyists and decades-long tenure in Washington, is not new. But the intensity of the attacks is — and it is meant to minimize the heavy emphasis on Obama’s charisma-driven campaign.

McCain has hammered the theme in recent weeks that Obama is an aloof “celebrity” unprepared to be commander in chief.

“The convention will offer a series of contrasts and comparisions of the McCain record so voters can see how clearly the choice will be in November,” Obama spokesman Bill Burton told FOX News. “The convention will also introduce Senator Obama to the country, but it will make sure to convey strongly the differences and choices Obama’s campaign presents over McCain’s.”

The move is a rejection of John Kerry’s decree in 2004 that his convention would project a positive message about Kerry and the Democratic Party while minimizing attacks on President Bush and the GOP.

Obama strategists believe Kerry’s convention was too passive and gave Bush and the Republicans space to create their own message without having to respond to Democratic criticisms. Advisers say the convention contrasts will not be personal, but will cast a harsh light on McCain’s record, lobbyist relationships and similarities with Bush. Aides say the campaign is setting out to offer a stark contrast between McCain and Obama.

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  1. 1
    Wiskers says:

    I agree with you on the choice of Senator Edwards, but strongly dispute your contention that Senator Kerry did not fight back against the Swift Boat Veterans.  I witnessed how much he disputed those smear- him and those who truely supported him. It would of helped if more Democrats had done their part to fight off the lies and if someone could have clamped down on the media distortions and the over-kill. Obama may have learned a thing or two from Senator Kerry’s campaign, but he hasn’t had to fight a hard or as long as Kerry did trying for that gold ring. Senator Kerry gave it all he had and I resent people comparing him to the virtually easy if not short race Obama has had.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    I did not say that Kerry did not fight back against the Swift Boat Liars. See the link to the full post on the topic. Kerry did fight back, more than he is given credit for, but with the benefit of hindsight he still did not do enough. Kerry has said this himself.

    I expect to see Obama to do better than Kerry in some respects–because he has the benefit of Kerry’s experience and support. This is not a Kerry v. Obama question as to who is the better candidate. Kerry will help make Obama the better candidate, and therefore this is something in Kerry’s favor.

  3. 3
    battlebob says:

    Kerry admits he did not respond stongly enough.  Part of it was finances, part of it was his advisors who suggested a softer approach, and part of it was Kerry’s reluctance to attack a fellow veteran (my opinion).
    I did my time in the service and it seemed wrong to go after fellow vets who lie about other vets.
    I addressed VFW meetings and had a hard time calling them a bunch of liars – even though they obviously were.

    McCain will play this card even though he has done nothing to support vets going to war or returning from war.

  4. 4
    Jerry says:

    Obama has an even more difficult problem in a way. At least Kerry was a vet and Bush wasn’t. This time it’s the other way around. Wisely, Obama is not taking McCain on in this arena, but is instead taking him on as someone who promised to “talk straight” and run a positive campaign, but is now making personal attacks and constantly lying. Now that Obama has made that case – and a large majority agrees with him – he (Obama) is free to take the gloves off. As long as he doesn’t get too personal, Obama will not be faulted for defending himself.
    As has been the case many times during the primaries, I’m constantly amazed at just how good Obama and his team are at this complex dance. Just when I’m about to pull my hair out in frustration, they come up with something that makes it appear that their rival’s moves were part of their plan all along. In this case, Obama’s on record as having tried to keep the campaign positive, but has now been forced to respond in kind (although, hopefully, not lie or attack personally as McCain has). McCain has, in a way, just given Obama a green light to get tough. And despite what many are saying, Obama can do tough!

  5. 5
    Jerry says:

    I should’ve said “Bush wasn’t a REAL vet”.

  6. 6
    Jim says:

    Again, I am crazed by the Dem’s/Obama’s inability or unwillingness to pick up all the red-meat laying about; swift responses to the nonsense asserted by McCain and the Rep’s hearten, but a concerted, deliberate effort is required. The sheer abundance of misrepresentation, distortion and inane rhetoric begs for swift response. Coming up through Chicago politics, Obama is a an effective counter-puncher, no callow youth. Should Biden get the VP nod, I look forward to some blazing artillery, without personal attacks on McCain.

  7. 7
    Wayne says:

    The problem that Obama has that to this point hasn’t been adequately addressed is how anyone is to believe that a Chicago Politician who is a protege of one of the leaders of the most dysfunctional state Democratic Party in the country can be trusted to bring about change.  He had his chance by complaining when the Cook County Democrats pushed a political novice for County Board President, who just happened to be the son of the current President, John Stroger.  Or he could have done something earlier when the senior Stoger had a debilitating stroke, but refused to give up his spot on the primary ticket, only admitting after the primary that he wasn’t healthy enough to run, and annoints his son, Todd Stroger for the position.  Instead of pushing for change, Obama endorsed Todd Stroger, who ran on campaign to streamline county government.  Now 2 years later, the county has more employees, the highest sales tax rate in the country, and a slew of Stroger friends and relatives in positions they are not qualified for, but Obama doesn’t believe in change in Chicago.  Or he could have stood up and made a statement against his protege, Illinois Senate President Emil Jones, a loyal backer of Gov. Rod (Hey, I haven;t been indicted yet, I must be doing a good job), when he decided long after the primary to retire, pushing his son (common thread here) to take his place in the ticket.  If this is the type of “change” we will get from Obama, I am scared.

  8. 8
    Ron Chusid says:

    Not many are naive enough to think that Obama wouldn’t have had to play the game in Chicago to succeed there and get a chance to make a difference nationally. You ignore the fact that in the Illinois legislature he passed major reform legislation.

    One change Obama now brings is considering solutions to problems. This is a welcome change from Republicans who have zero ideas as to solving problems or about how to govern effectively, and who think that politics is all about this type of banal personal attack you are more interested in.

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