November 16, 2004


In '08, familiar faces could aid Democrats (Peter S. Canellos, November 16, 2004, Boston Globe)

John Kerry returned to Washington last week and did something surprising for a defeated Democratic presidential nominee. He met with his party's leaders in the House and Senate to plot strategy for the upcoming year.

Those who supposed Kerry would disappear on vacation, put on a few pounds, grow a beard, make an American Express commercial, or teach at a small college raised their eyebrows: Kerry might actually be serious about playing an important role over the next few years. He might even be planning another presidential run.

This scenario would not be surprising if Kerry were a Republican. GOP contenders are groomed over a long period, and losing is often a part of the credentialing process.

Presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George H. W. Bush ran unsuccessful campaigns before winning -- with Reagan twice falling short of the GOP nomination and Nixon failing once as the nominee, followed by a more embarrassing defeat for governor of California.

As a result, Republicans almost always nominate a familiar, tested brand -- a Nixon, Reagan, Bob Dole, or Bush -- who knows every whistle-stop and pothole on the national campaign trail the way an expert skier knows the bumps on a favorite mountain. (George W. Bush got the lay of the land from his father's two decades in the national spotlight.)

The Democrats, meanwhile, begin every cycle afresh, as though looking for a caped crusader to lead them to the White House. Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton could not have been picked out of a police lineup outside their home states before launching their national campaigns. And past nominees George McGovern, Michael Dukakis, and Kerry were all unknowns on the national stage, stepping out of the chorus to sing the lead.

Since Democrats' first allegiance is usually to their causes, not their leaders, losing candidates get discarded quickly.

Of course, at this point in '00 Al Gore was the inevitable next president...

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 16, 2004 11:01 AM

Since they have to have space to fill and know there's a burnout factor on hyping one person too much to the American public, the big media outlets can't be expected to write stories right now that say, "Hillary's the 2008 nominee. Everybody else go home," and expect to just run that over and over for the next thousand days, even if it is true.

Posted by: John at November 16, 2004 11:10 AM

At this point in '000 Algore was making plans for his inauguration parties in the coming January. But the author sounds amazed that someone who refused to resign from the Senate actually showed his face in the place. Wha'ts amazing is that the guy is going to go back to being junior backbencher.

Dem candidates get discarded because it's always the messenger's fault, never the message, and all that's needed to win is a new face spouting the same rejected policies.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at November 16, 2004 11:35 AM

Dem candidates get discarded because it's always the messenger's fault, never the message, and all that's needed to win is a new face spouting the same rejected policies.

Because The Party, by definition, can never be wrong.

Posted by: Ken at November 16, 2004 12:19 PM

A primary contest between Kerry and Hilary with Kucinich and perhaps Sharpton thrown in for good measure has the potential for a lifetime's worth of good material for any halfway decent comedian.

Posted by: Bart at November 16, 2004 1:40 PM

Kerry may have been an underachiever in the Senate, but he was hardly unknown across the country. People who read certainly knew who he was, and that he was a Vietnam "hero", long before the autumn of 2003.

In fact, he was probably the best known of all the candidates except Gephardt, who had run before and was Minority Leader.

Likewise, people knew who McGovern was in 1971-72: a very leftish Senator who opposed the war and wanted to take the country into full-blown socialism.

Dukakis and Carter were unknowns, but the Boston Globe is being pretty thick (for a major metropolitan paper). Maybe this reporter went to Harvard.

Posted by: jim hamlen at November 16, 2004 2:11 PM

I'm with Bart, but would love if they would ad Gore.

Imagine three brutal, brass knuckled liars throwing epithets at each other while digging deeper and deeper into the left wing cesspool of poisonous rhetoric.

I dare say Gore would win. Bet on the one who hires Whouley.

Posted by: BB at November 16, 2004 3:36 PM

He's being too hard on the party. There were any number of police lineups in which Bill Clinton would have been picked out.

Posted by: David Cohen at November 16, 2004 4:27 PM

The analysis fails because only the crisis situation in 1968 made Nixon look good, and Reagan's "defeats" always showed growing strength. Bush only became the nominee and President because Reagan picked him as Vice President. Had he picked someone else, Bush's chance of ever being President would be nil.

Kerry meets none of these conditions unless of course Iraq turns into a disaster or there is another foreign policy crisis.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at November 16, 2004 6:12 PM

Kerry, release all your service records.

Posted by: genecis at November 16, 2004 8:29 PM

Chris Durnell:

Kerry was Mr. Electable-Anybody-but-Bush; even if Iraq blows up, it won't enhance Kerry's stature, as there were dozens of prominent Dems against the war.

It's going to be a free for all on both sides for '08.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at November 16, 2004 10:08 PM

The Republican nominee will almost certainly be a sure thing by the autumn of 2007. The Democratic nominee? Who knows?

Posted by: jim hamlen at November 16, 2004 11:24 PM

Kerry will be back to sleep by the middle of Jannuary.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at November 17, 2004 2:18 AM

Who is this Kerry of whom you speak?

Posted by: jsmith at November 18, 2004 10:59 PM

I think Rush captured the essence of the junior senator from Massistan when he called him MIGHTY MOUSE. Speaking of mice, does anyone remember the movie "The Mouse That Roared"?

Posted by: Dave at November 19, 2004 9:37 AM