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November 8, 2004
How About This: Kerry Was A Lousy Candidate?

I took a peek at the headlines this morning, while I'm wrapping up my vacation in Southern California, and the one story that really caught my eye was Howard Kurtz's piece on post-election analysis by the media. If you listen to the talking heads on TV, you hear all sorts of notions about why George Bush beat John Kerry: gay marriage, evangelicals, Michael Moore, red-America brain death, and so on. Kurtz analyzes the analysts in his own somewhat cynical style:

The Democrats were clueless on moral values. John Kerry was a lousy candidate. A northerner can't win anymore. The Bush team was better at manipulating the press. No one trusts the Democrats on national security. The gay marriage issue badly hurt the party. The Democrats need to move right, or left, or south, or undergo a personality transplant, or change the Constitution so Bill Clinton can run again. ...

The sudden focus on "family values" comes from the 22 percent of voters in exit polls who named that as their top issue, followed by 20 percent who chose the economy. But as Simon notes, "all that is based on the same flawed exit polls" that journalists are criticizing for a tilt toward Kerry. And how many are willing to tell pollsters that moral values aren't important?

Goldberg, a card-carrying conservative, says that since his side won, it's pundits on the left who are taking their hand-wringing to a higher level: "Liberals need to come up with grand theories. Their explanations are far more existential. They get to be very literary and metaphorical and Freudian and flowery."

What has been missed in the avalanche of what Goldberg calls grand theories is a prosaic truth: elections are about trust. In the end, the Democrats nominated a man that most voters cannot trust, based on a public track record of politically expedient reversals and his post-Vietnam activities. Democrats thought the latter would actually be Kerry's strength in an age of terror, which shows how out of touch they really are.

The media, which exerted itself mightily on Kerry's behalf and may well have wounded itself mortally in the process, has tried to explain away the results in a number of fashions, most of them focusing on the ignorance of the voter. They use the same discredited exit polling which showed Kerry winning by a landslide to determine that George Bush won because middle America wants to turn the Midwest into Jesusland. What piffle! If it hadn't been for the unrelentingly negative coverage given Iraq (and Afghanistan, before the success of the elections surprised the media), Kerry would have lost the election by ten points, maybe fifteen.

Its true that the Democrats have lost touch with mainstream America, it's true that Hollywood repels voters in huge numbers, and it's true that morality and values inform our public choices -- even John Kerry asserted that while he explained his support for partial-birth abortions. And none of that would have mattered one iota had the Democrats nominated a candidate that people could trust.

John Kerry was a lousy candidate and an inept campaigner, something that should have been obvious in 1996, when the Kennedy protege nearly lost what should have been a gimme election to William Weld. Why did the Democrats nominate him instead of their VP candidate from 2000, who should have logically been the standardbearer this year? Now that's the question they should be asking themselves.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 8, 2004 9:14 AM

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference How About This: Kerry Was A Lousy Candidate?:

» Some People Get It from The Mile High View
Captain's Quarters picks up on Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post and his 2004 post-mortem [Read More]

Tracked on November 8, 2004 11:33 AM

» More Election Dejection from Secure Liberty
While I was able to escape the TV news in Vermont, I noticed that the hand wringing, sniping and dejection from Democrats continues on the radio and in the papers. Howard Kurtz, as always, is watching the media. His column today shows the Democrats a... [Read More]

Tracked on November 8, 2004 2:55 PM

» Is Voter Ignorance responsible for Kerry's defeat? from Pajama Hadin
Captian Ed has an post at CaptianQuartersBlog about the post-election analyses by all the talking heads in the media, none which seem to consider the possibility that Sen. Kerry was just a lousy candidate and people did not trust him. Michelle Malki... [Read More]

Tracked on November 8, 2004 3:38 PM

» How about this: Kerry was a lousy candidate? from Commonwealth Conservative
Captain's Quarters dissects Howard Kurtz's WaPo piece today. A good read. [Read More]

Tracked on November 8, 2004 9:05 PM

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