[Read "Kerry Was Not Bold Enough to Win," by Arianna Huffington.]
It is clear that Ms. Huffington was not able to see and hear John Kerry in person on the stump. I was able to see him twice up close in Raleigh and in Greensboro, N.C. Kerry's message was clear and loaded with traditional Democratic Party values. I believe that the problem with the campaign is that Kerry was "Gored" by the media.
His message was filtered by the commentators and pundits, so that the uninformed voters in the red states never got to know the real John Kerry and his plans as president. His bounce in the polls after the debates is proof of this thesis, for the media could not filter what he said and how he said it.
The Republicans are way ahead of the Democrats in getting their message out via right-wing talk radio, their Fox News propaganda arm, and the cowered major news networks that could not bring themselves to report that President Bush lies to the American people. For all of the soul-searching now underway among progressives on how to sharpen the message, the solution is obvious.
It's not the message, stupid! We need our own, progressive cable news network to counter Fox News and to keep ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN more honest. I helped to bundle $185,000 in contributions to the Kerry-Edwards campaign from Chapel Hill, N.C. I have already informed some Democratic Party leaders that next time such money will not be so easy to raise if it is to be spent on 30-second TV commercials that for the most part had little influence on the election outcome.
Let's be a real political party next time and control a national media outlet to carry the truth to the American people!
-- Tom Henkel
While reading her piece on John Kerry's loss, I could not help thinking about her own joust with the Terminator. During her campaign, she articulated an opposing viewpoint that was bold and idealistic. She demonstrated that she had a better grasp of the issues and hadn't conveniently arrived at them in time for the governor's race. How did the voters see her? As a hypocrite who accused corporations of not paying their fair share of taxes and secretly did the same.
People saw what media wanted them to see. How often was John Edwards, the much more dynamic of the two candidates, seen? He got less airtime than Cheney's daughter. Nothing is really going to change as long as media is so skewed to the right, which even the crypto Republican Paglia admits.
-- Jeff Strain
As someone who gave more money this cycle than I'd care to remember (I know Soros gave more, but he has more), I couldn't agree more with Huffington's analysis. Al Gore said he would have just let it rip. Rove observed that courting undecideds was a losing strategy. And Kerry never turned on his base: Bush got 11 percent black vote and 40 percent Latino, up from 2000.
But the basic problem is this: There are a lot of high school-educated white males that are very angry. They are angry about loss of jobs, status, 9/11, morality (read others, not their own); Bush has uncannily played into these guys. The Dems need to return to their core values and not become DINOs!
-- Deedee Arnall
Man, if Arianna had all the answers, why did she marry a gay guy and why didn't she get more than 14 votes when she ran for governor of California. I'm fucking tired of her lectures. She's smart -- but states her points with that snide authority that makes me want to slap her and then turn Republican.
Shut up, Arianna. Kerry probably won. Plus, people are unbelievably stupid, and there's no reason Dems should pander to that.
-- Bobbie Savitz
As much as I normally adore and agree with Arianna, I have to express my frustration and outrage at her Monday morning quarterbacking. Sure, Kerry's may not have been a perfect campaign, and he may not have been the perfect candidate. But as Al Franken noted today, Mythical Guy did not run this year, nor has he ever!
One of the gravest mistakes Democrats made in 2000 was to form a circular firing squad at the end of the election -- and place Gore in the center. Kerry filled that position last Wednesday. What is it with the cannibalism? Does it not occur to anyone that the party -- and more important, its principles -- would have done a far sight better had we steadfastly recognized the coup d'état for what it was and rallied around Al to begin the push to reelect Gore in '04? Does it not occur to anyone that this is what could make the difference now with Kerry? Analyzing and strategizing should not cease when Election Day is over; we still have a gravely serious threat to conquer, and blaming Kerry will not serve that goal.
Kerry ran his campaign with integrity, and he did not lose this election! The exit polls were accurate, as they virtually always are. How can we sit around and blame each other when we have known for precisely four solid years now that this cabal would not relinquish power for any reason! I am incredulous that so many people have forgotten that these guys do not play by the rules. Their strategy was simply to manipulate the media and set up their opponent for ridicule, and they did it at every turn, no matter what Kerry said or did.
As far as I can tell, the only way we will win an honest election against these guys is if the media suddenly gets a conscience, the electorate as a whole gets smart and votes 99 percent against Bush, or the whole gang gets caught in bed together with the Vienna Boy's Choir. It will probably require all three, but I'm not betting on any of them. Nor would I suggest that Kerry or the Dems compromise their integrity or their principles or their platform to "take" an election.
My God, if we learned anything from our forefathers, I certainly hope it was that stolen power is not worth it. I also hope we learn from these events that we must truly stand together in times of crisis.
Why couldn't Ms. Huffington have vented her anguish on how the votes have been stolen instead of turning on her own? Who does this serve, besides Karl Rove? We must all be very careful to consider the consequences of our actions, particularly now.
-- Lynn LeSueur
As an independent who has looked on aghast at the bordering-on-ridiculous post-election responses of both Democrats ("Screw those hicks ... if only we could have been more distant and elitist") and Republicans ("You say 3 percent, I say mandate"), I've tried to look at the election results in an open-minded way.
That's why reading Arianna Huffington's article "Kerry Was Not Bold Enough to Win" touched a chord. Its premise begs the question: If John Kerry wasn't enough of a leader to do what was necessary despite the possible risks, and if he wasn't enough of a manager to conduct a strong, cohesive campaign from start to finish, then what makes you think he would have been a good president? And keep in mind, "He wasn't Bush" is not a legitimate answer for the majority of Americans.
Forget about the past four years for a moment; if you had to say yea or nay to Kerry based solely on what you saw and experienced during his campaign, what would your opinion be?
His internal campaign decision-making was often described (in friendly news articles, no less) as chaotic, changing in method and often based on asking too many people too many things, ultimately going with the most recent advice. Not very presidential.
His management team was anything but in sync. Not good evidence of an ability to build a great Cabinet.
His fear of treading on toes, choosing instead to find a defensible, though vague, middle statement open to interpretation? Not the actions of a leader of 300 million people.
Many Bush voters claimed "values" when vaguely queried post-vote. I'm thinking some of those folks weren't talking about gay marriages. They were talking about seeing the evidence of simple leadership at a presidential level. And Kerry proved lacking.
As a president, Kerry made a decent senator.
Now, please, get an electable candidate for 2008.
-- Jeff Coburn
Does anybody really believe that Karl Rove, Dick Cheney (& his minion George Bush), Halliburton, et al. would invest billions of dollars into this administration's policies to have them interrupted mid-stream?
We are talking about an incomprehensible amount of money and power that the Bush administration themselves cannot even conceive with their tiny brains. This is the future of the planet that we're talking about here. One lousy U.S. election isn't even a factor. These guys stole it somehow, I assure you. It just doesn't add up. We had the highest voter turnout since 1968 and that bumbling idiot won the popular vote by a substantial margin? I'll never trust the American electoral process again. Say what you will about Kerry, but he's a politician who would have respected the power that he was given and possibly brought some legitimacy back to the presidency.
-- Matt Jencik
As a longtime reader of Salon, I implore you: Dump Huffington. She's shrill and obnoxious and the poster child for everything that is wrong with the Democratic Party.
-- James Walker