I rarely link to a left-leaning site, mostly because I seldom peruse them. It’s not that I am prejudiced or disinterested in what the other side has to say; it’s just that so few of them ever say anything new.
Too often, when I do check into a lefty site, like Democratic Underground or Daily Kos, I feel like I’ve just stepped over a crew of Maureen-Dowd-wannabees, lying in a gutter full of their own vomit, willfully disconnected from anything remotely positive or hopeful, and fully disinterested in grappling with reason.
I do read this gentleman, Joe Marshall, though. He came popping up over here almost from the day I started, (I have no idea how he found me) and always writing bright, thoughtful comments with which I would mostly disagree…but the operative words are bright and thoughtful. Also, he is a fellow jazz and Wodehouse fan, so no matter where we disagree, we’ll always have Ella Fitzgerald and Bertie Wooster to keep us connected!
That said, Joe has written what I think is really the best analysis I have yet read of why the Kerry campaign lost the election, written from a “liberal” perspective. (Labels just don’t work, sometimes. I still consider myself quite the classic liberal, in a JFK, Hubert Humphrey vein; Joe would disagree…)
The image crumpled, the strategy backfired, and the platitudes withered in the nasty fighting of a viscous campaign. Leaving us with the man, whose handlers and speechwriters had given him nothing but the image, the strategy, and the platitudes, and left him finally only with himself, burdened by the shadow of that false and overweening image, with nothing intelligible to offer voters who were not already primed to vote for him no matter what. These weren’t enough to win the election.
Now you might object that the Republican campaign and candidate were equally platitudinous and strategy driven. If anyone who voted for George W. Bush actually knows what the “ownership society” is, and really thinks we should become one, I have yet to hear of it. But the President, as the incumbent, has one enormous advantage–four years of having actually done things. This cannot be countered by any mere image, and certainly not by an image that is so little tied to the real man that it collapses like an inflated Santa or Snowman in a Christmas Eve windstorm. Actions must be countered by clear, articulate, ideas, and different alternatives. John Kerry didn’t have any. From what has been reported about his recent trip to Iraq, he still doesn’t.
Anchoress, again: To me it seems wrong, and sad, that there is someone out there – willing and wanting to work for the Democrats – someone who can offer the benefits of fresh and able reasoning to them, but who (because he is a humble and unknown “blogspotting” blogger without the right connections, or pedigree, or whatever) will not be picked up and employed by these folks, and put to good use. Rather, the Democratic leadership will simply go back and fish from the same tired, overplayed pond that has been their main source of inadequate nutrition for three decades.
I disagree with much that Joe opines, and I don’t think much of Gov. Dean, but I did respect Dean’s willingness to depart from the status quo and the Democratic script, and I respect Joe’s willingness to lay out some hard truths that too few Democrats want to face. Democrats need to stop insisting, after every election, that they were robbed. They need to stop playing fast and loose with procedure. They need to stop slogging around the gutters grasping onto empty images and slogans and feeding only on bitterness and ivy-league collegiate cool, and actully put some substantive and dare I say it, risky, ideas out there, or they will continue to stumble around and blame every loss on those artfully theiving, stupid, dastardly, unsophisticated, moronic, brilliantly clever Republicans and their clueless minions in the Red States.
Anyway, read what Joe Marshall has to say.