Thursday, May 24, 2007

John Kerry's 2004 Campaign And The Retreat Of The Democrats

Over at Talking Points Memo, they posted some excerpts from Bob Shrum's new book where he reveals that Time columnist Joe Klein was acting as an informal adviser to the Kerry campaign. This situation is an indicator of why the democrats caved this week on the Iraq funding bill.

Kerry hires Bob Shrum, a man with the worst track record on the planet. Bob Shrum worked as a consultant in Presidential races for the 1980 Teddy Kennedy campaign, in 1988 for Dick Gephardt, in 1992 for Bob Kerrey, in 2000 for Al Gore, and after this record of achievement, John Kerry hired him in 2004, because he wanted to pick a winner.

Joe Klein wrote the anonymous book 'Primary Colors', not using his real name because it was a personalized not too flattering fictional account of the Clinton marriage and their careers. But Kerry was great friends with Klein, and he craved his advice even though Klein was wrong on the war amongst other issues.
Klein himself was trying to play many parts. He was not only reporting on the campaign and preparing to write a book about consultants; he was also a constant critic and yet another sometime adviser. After the Kerry appearance at the Iowa Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner, he told [Kerry spokesman] David Wade: "Great speech, but it's too late"--then turned around and stalked away. With Klein, it was almost always too late for us, in part because we didn't always take his persistent advice. He would chastise Kerry on the phone when he didn't like a speech, counseling both Kerry and me about what the canddiate should say and what our strategy should be. He argued to Kerry, for example, that his health care plan should call for an individual mandate, requiring all Americans to buy health insurance. Rejecting his advice was uncomfortable for Kerry, who liked Joe, craved his approval, and worried what his columns would say when we didn't take his recommendations.

In one excerpt, it is revealed that Klein wanted Kerry to vote for the supplemental funding, but Kerry at the end backed down, before using his tortured rhetoric of for it before he was against it.

Kerry was continually trying to please Klein, while at the same time listening to Bob Shrum, never bothering in the process to figure out what was the right thing to do. He needed to lead and ask people to follow.

This is exactly what the problem of the democrats is now. They just refuse to lead. George Bush is between 28 and 34% in the polls right now. 70% of the public wants out of Iraq, and they get into a game of chicken with Bush that they were never prepared to fight until the end. They are indecisive, unsure of themselves, worried what the elite pundits will think about them, and are acting like political marionettes.

If Bush wasn't so incompetent, his administration so corrupt, so pig headed stubborn (yes, a lot of ifs), he would be immensely popular. The American people like politicians who are confident. The same public that voted for Ronald Reagan voted for Clinton. A public that can name all the Brady Kids, but can't name four Supreme Court Justices is going on a vibe more than a fact based assessment. They instinctively follow somebody who says they know the way from A to B, and have a plan to get there.

This blind faith in people who are confident about directions can often lead to disaster and hilarity, as any wife of a guy who refuses to pull over and get help on a long road trip can attest.

But, this is the society that we have. The democrats look weak. The only thing the democrats have going for them is Republican corruption, and the vast unpopularity of the war. The democrats could actually lose in 2008 if they decide to go the Obama and Hillary route yesterday of holding their tongues when asked about this bill. It's cowardly.

They want to lift their fingers up to the wind and see if they can get away with it before deciding what they believe in. Who is inspired by that? Certainly not I, nor the American people regardless of their ideological bent.