Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Now He Tells Us

Errol Morris tells us why John Kerry lost.

John Kerry lost because he concealed something that was completely honorable, even heroic: his opposition to Vietnam. George W. Bush told the truth about something that, to my mind, was not honorable: he supported that war but found a way to stay home. Mr. Kerry was forthright about almost everything except himself – and in this election that was not enough.

Mr. Morris’s point is well-taken; the Kerry campaign let the opposition bring up his opposition to the war and run with it, while his advisers told him not to respond to the bullshit from the SBVT.

But it was more than just that. Kerry probably thought that reminding the voters of his opposition to one war could easily get confused with his stance on the current war. Rather than take the glaring example of how not to run a war in 1968 and compare it to Glaring Example 2.0, he hoped that his hero status alone would be enough. But what made him a headline in 1972 wasn’t his three purple hearts; we have a lot of politicians with military service (Sens. McCain and Grassley for example). It was his opposition to the war in Vietnam and the work he did to raise the country’s awareness of the lost cause that set him apart. Mr. Morris is right – John Kerry could have run on that. Whether or not he would have won is problematic, but it would have made it a lot harder for his opponents, and that might have made the difference.