You know, I said after the election that people who started ripping on Kerry should go fuck themselves with a rusty chainsaw. That might have been a tad melodramatic.
Maybe it’s just me. Maybe it’s all the eggnog and Christmas cheer that’s made me overly mellow these past few days. But I find the prospect of having Kerry’s entire campaign team “lined up and shot” just a tad melodramatic, too.
But what makes me angry was Kerry and his gang’s inability to take advantage of the situation. I may regret saying this later, but fuck it — they should be lined up and shot. There’s no reason they should’ve lost to this joker. “I voted for the $87 billion, then I voted against it.” That wasn’t nuance. That was idiocy. And with a primary campaign that consisted entirely of “I’m the most electable”, Kerry entered the general without a core philosophy or articulated vision for the job.
I could deal with losing to a popular incumbent. But it’s tough to deal with the most unpopular incumbent to win reelection.
We didn’t lose to an unpopular incumbent because we didn’t lose to a man. We lost to a vision of the country created not merely by the opponent’s campaign but by relentless media pressure and an intellectually lazy and spoon-fed American public that was almost as much our adversary as George W. Bush. We lost to a neverending noise machine and nowhere in the opinion poll Kos is griping about does it measure the collective decibels that machine can produce. That’s the poll we really need, and the argument we really need to have.
The $87 billion comment? That was a mistake? C’mon. Bush said he never said he wasn’t concerned about bin Laden when there was TAPE to prove otherwise. Bush said he never owned a timber company. Bush said “Bring it on.” Bush said about 300 things that were more idiotic than this comment, but instead of focusing on why those things didn’t matter, instead of saying hmm, let’s work this problem, we’ve got to smack our own guy around. Mind-boggling to me that we can’t win elections.
The argument in the comments that follow this post are by and large that another man could have done better against Bush. Dean would never have … Clark would never have … And it just infuriates me because nobody really knows if any of that is true.
I’ll be the first to say that Mary Beth Cahill pulled some punches she should have let fly, that their ads were for shit and that failing to respond to the Swift Boat Liars by screaming “Nixon stooge! Nixon stooge!” will go down in history as one of the great blunders of politics. The fuck-you money we gave should have been spent on saying fuck you. I’ll talk tactics and strategery until dawn, but arguing personalities is silly. I don’t think another candidate would have done any better. Another candidate would have done just as badly, but in different and entirely unique ways.
And what annoys me about all the second-guessing is that it plays into the idea that if we can just find a candidate who’s good enough, the Republicans won’t hit us anymore and mommy will love us again. It’s BULLSHIT. Every Democrat had the liability of being tarred as, well, a Democrat, and if it wasn’t the Swift Boat blunder with Kerry, it would have been Dean’s wife telling some reporter to get bent or Clark being accused of war crimes by the Kosovars for Truth or some shit. Returning the party to power in this country can’t just be about a man, and I thought the blogosphere did a pretty admirable job in the days after Black Tuesday of pointing out that it was about marshalling a group of people all believing in the same vision for the country, united behind a set of principles in which they took great pride, not about finding a guy hot enough for the soccer moms.
Looking at those approval numbers at first gave me the same feeling, like, “Man, a syphillitic hamster could have beaten Bush.” But these numbers don’t measure anything except the utter irrelevancy of whatever candidate the Republicans put forward because clearly, with numbers like these, a syphillitic hamster could get elected president if he ran as a Republican.
And that’s the only conclusion we should draw from this poll.