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Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Kerry On

Wednesday's Boston Globe city section reports that some vigilers in Louisburg Square still hold out hope for a Kerry presidency.

The little knot of demonstrators, calling themselves the Coalition Against Election Fraud, stood shivering in the cold yesterday, hoisting signs and pressing fliers into the hands of bewildered passersby. Taxi drivers, neighbors digging cars out of the snow, and Beacon Hill residents who happened to be strolling by were subjected to earnest pleas to join the cause.

"Who knows? Maybe we'll overturn the election," said Sheila Parks, a vigil organizer.

Someone needs to tell these people that the Ohio recount changed the margin in that state by just 300 votes.

A letter writer to the Globe also today chides Kerry as "missing in action" for not speaking out about prisoner abuse in Guantanamo, violence in Iraq, social security privatization and judicial nominations. The obvious answer to this is that Kerry just lost a presidential election and it's time to cede the stage for a while, at least until Bush is inaugurated again. Gore did the same, going off for a stretch to grow a beard, before re-emerging to give his memorable endorsement of Howard Dean and to denounce the Bushies is strident speeches. You don't exactly see the likes of Bill Clinton criticizing Bush in the press every day (the tsunami kerfuffle notwithstanding), and I think the idea that Kerry is now the "head of the Democratic party" is clearly wrong too. Kerry will most certainly not be nominated again, and he knows it.

Finally, I'm a bit confused by the "Kerry Sucked" post that has generated lots of comment over at AmericaBlog. Yes, John Kerry certainly did suck, so I don't know why the question is posed about "why it's ok to talk about everyone else who screwed up but not Kerry?"

First off, I personally complained about Kerry from the night of his Iowa comeback onward. My first post-election post reiterated my view that Kerry wasn't a good choice for a candidate. I think I'm hardly unique on this, and I've brought the same point to bear on other post-election analyses. For example, in the Democrats' abortion discussion of last week, I emphasized that we must keep sight of the fact that the party had a weak spokesman this cycle, which may have overpowered any effect from a substantive stance on the issue.

But beyond all of this, the simple reason that Kerry doesn't figure much in the election post-mortems is that it's a given that he won't be the party's standard-bearer in 2008. That other elements of the party structure will stick around is a lot more likely, unless something is done to reform them. Dissecting the personal failing of John Kerry in responding weakly to the Vietnam veteran attacks, for instance, might not have all that much direct relevance to the next fight for the White House, whereas reconsidering what the Democratic Party says about abortion and other issues could have a real impact.