This is the new era of bipartisanship. I know this because I hear it on TV all the time, so it's got to be true. Therefore, I call on all patriotic Americans to seize this golden opportunity for real change by speaking with one clear voice to Washington. Don't let John Kerry run again.
Yes, yes, it's true: I am biased. I have never been kind to Brahimin Lurch. After his "botched" joke suggesting that American troops are uneducated losers, I wrote that Kerry "is an awful politician, a human toothache with the charisma of a 19th-century Oxford Latin tutor." In response, countless readers wrote in to complain that I'd been unfair to Latin tutors.
But balancing out my personal animosity is my professional self-interest. As a conservative columnist, there is nothing I should want more than to see Kerry whack his forehead against the concrete wall of history one more time. Why? Because attacking Kerry is always good copy. And, if my North Star were the GOP's good fortune, I would light a candle every night at my Lee Atwater shrine in prayer that the Kerry baloney leap once more into the grinder. After all, he's the most beatable of Democrats. His political instincts are duller than a prison-cafeteria spork. And never in my lifetime have we seen a presidential candidate with a more thumbless grasp of the way average Americans talk or live.
Which brings me to the really salient point: Disliking John Kerry isn't just for right-wingers anymore. It's as American as apple pie. Despite enormous name recognition; despite the kind of sympathetic coverage that only alleged victims of the "Republican attack machine" get; despite constant efforts to stay in the news, a stockpile of cash from his wife and his last campaign; and despite enormously impressive hair; he is near the bottom in all the important rankings of serious candidates. And when I say near the bottom, I mean if he claws his way up a bit, he'll be at the bottom.
In November, Kerry came in dead last in a Quinnipiac poll asking respondents whether they had warm feelings for various prominent politicians. Kerry came in around "arctic." The National Journal asked its brain trust of political insiders (consultants, graybeards, et al.) to list their top 10 Democratic prospects for '08. Kerry came in behind Sen. Chris Dodd and Dodd came in 10th. All Kerry got was footnote status as an also-ran.
Even more damning was the informal poll conducted by Kerry himself. The windsurfing William Jennings Bryan gathered together his team of moneymen, activists and consultants at his posh Georgetown pied-a-terre as part of his effort to get the band back together for '08. He opened the dinner conversation by asking his "loyalists" if he should run again. Normally, you'd expect Kerry's closest backers to say "yes" just out of politeness alone. But Kerry was greeted with the sort of total silence reserved for questions that shouldn't be asked, like "Does this make me look fat?" So, according to an account in The New York Post, Kerry proceeded to tell everyone present why he should run again.
The simple fact is that John Kerry never should have gotten the nomination in 2004 anyway. He stumbled into it after tripping over the crater left behind by Howard Dean's self-destruction. Democrats figured Kerry was the most "electable," forgetting that electability is often cover for spinelessness and, in voters, is usually based on the hope that someone else will like the guy even if you don't. Quick: ask yourself what Kerry has accomplished after more than two decades in the Senate. Kerry himself couldn't even come up with a good answer to that. Even former Democratic National Committee chair Terry McAuliffe labels the Kerry campaign a case of "political malpractice."
In 2008, the election won't be a referendum on President Bush, and without Kerry's advantage of being "not Bush," re-nominating a dull-witted, gormless Boston aristocrat would be malpractice on the order of picking an accountant as your heart surgeon.
Democrats convinced themselves that Kerry was a war hero slandered by the Swift Boat Vets for Truth and Karl Rove. But the basic fact is that Kerry was a unique case. Fine, he served honorably in Vietnam. Good for him. But he returned home to disparage the troops and the United States and build a lifelong political career not on his service abroad but on his protest at home.
And, of course, the Democrats can still be the antiwar party without nominating an antiwar fossil. But if the Democrats want to throw us all on that briar patch, I can assure you Lee Atwater will be smiling somewhere.