September 12, 2004


Loss Leader: At 0-7, Adviser Bob Shrum Is Well Acquainted With the Concession Speech (Mark Leibovich, September 10, 2004, Washington Post)

Each day at the Democratic convention in Boston, a team of 10 speechwriters would convene in a windowless office behind the Fleet Center podium to help compose and polish that night's speeches. In the spirit of camaraderie, the speechwriters discussed making T-shirts for themselves.

One suggested a design featuring the slogan "Reverse the Curse" over a picture of Bob Shrum, the Democratic strategist whom many perceived to be presidential candidate John Kerry's closest adviser. "The Curse" referred to Shrum's career-long slump in presidential campaigns, a well-catalogued losing streak that runs from George McGovern to Al Gore.

The shirts were never made for fear of offending Shrum. But the slogan endures as a joke among Kerry staffers. The implication is that Kerry is battling not just President Bush, but also the history of his ever-present aide-de-camp. It also underscores the degree to which Shrum's 0-7 win-loss record in presidential elections has become ensconced in the psyches of the campaigns he orchestrates.

It'd be easier to feel sorry for him if when he finally got his hands on a moderate Southerner, Al Gore, he hadn't managed to turn him into a NorthEastern liberal too.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 12, 2004 8:01 AM

Ladies and gentlemen, the Gene Mauch of American presidential campaign management.

Posted by: John at September 12, 2004 12:06 PM

I think 8 would give him more losses than William Jennings Bryan and Harold Stassen combined.

Posted by: Fred Jacobsen (San Fran) at September 12, 2004 12:53 PM

And he still manages to draw big paychecks from the candidates, too. Where else in American life today is incompetence so richly rewarded?

Posted by: Joe at September 12, 2004 2:53 PM

Joe: The NBA.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at September 12, 2004 3:49 PM