Whither John Kerry?

I was originally planning a thread about the losers this Wednesday. Either way, two ‘important’ American public figures will have to radically readjust their life-goals. So I started to reflect on earlier losers, and I immediately thought about how Al Gore really successfully figured out how to pursue a cause (and elevate his reputation). And then I thought…

What has John Kerry done in the last 4 years? I know he’s been a US Senator, but has he accomplished anything at all? Does he have a cause, or any larger purpose?

I wonder if he followed up his completely ineffectual campaign by being completely ineffectual in the last 4 years. If so, pretty tragic.

As a Massachusetts resident, let me point out that he preceded his ineffectual campaign with 20 ineffectual years in the Senate.

Realistically, as long as he’s the junior Senator behind Ted Kennedy, he’ll never get the limelight. He’s a backer of veterans, but beyond that I can’t think of anything noteworthy he’s done. He’s up for reelection this year, and is expected to handily defeat his Republican opponent.

The high point of his political career is losing an election.

To George Bush.

I think him and Dukakis are in the dictionary, next to the word “pathetic”.

Will you please define your criteria for “pathetic”?
Does it mean “one who lost”? “Democrat”? “Ran against Bush?”
Probably not the latter, else G.H.W.Bush would be “pathetic”.

He did secure his ancestral home (Naushon Island) as a “farm” (qualifying him for a lower property tax rate); he did this by having a few sheep grazing on the island.
He also spent less time in the senate than any modern US senator.
These are significant accomplishments.

He did head the probe that helped close down BCCI:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bank_of_Credit_and_Commerce_International

(And for some reason, decided to barely mention in his presidential campaign that he’d been in the business of disrupting terrorists’ financing 10 years before 9/11, but oh well).

In this context, it means “lost a Presidential election to George Bush”. Which is what I said.

This makes no sense. G.H.W. Bush ran against himself?

I am saying that [ol][]John Kerry[]is pathetic, because he lost to George Bush[/ol] I don’t think I can put it any more simply than that.

It sounds like Kerry was planning to run again, but then he made the “stuck in Iraq” joke. It’s hard to say he’s done much else of note.

[quote=“Shodan, post:7, topic:470766”]

In this context, it means “lost a Presidential election to George Bush”. Which is what I said. This makes no sense. G.H.W. Bush ran against himself?

I am saying that [ol][li]John Kerry[]is pathetic, because []he lost to George Bush[/ol] I don’t think I can put it any more simply than that.[/li][/QUOTE]

My concept of "pathetic" involves pity, sometimes pity and scorn.

Yes, your definition is simple. I get it. It seems to imply that beating George W. Bush should have been easy, whereas to my mind, incumbents usually have an advantage, even when their popularity has tarnished.
There wasn’t much margin to the Bush victory of 2004- if you consider the margin between his father and Bill Clinton in that light, Bush the Elder was “pathetic”.

See definition 3. Possibly 4.

John Kerry actually ran a decent campaign and ended up losing by a fairly narrow margin against an incumbent president in an OK economy. There is an automatic tendency to assume that the loser ran a terrible campaign and the winner a brilliant one but it really isn’t true; there are a lot of factors beyond the candidate’s control. The time to evaluate the campaign is the day before the result and I suspect most commentators at that point would have said that Kerry had a decent chance to win.

He married a woman who did the same thing. She paid something like 12% in taxes.

It seems the thread definition is Bash John Kerry.

You make a good point that everybody always assumes the loser lost because he sucked - I think it was George Will who made this same point in commentary after the third debate. But in this case I think it’s fairly accurate. Kerry fucked up on some big points. One was making his Vietnam service the centerpiece (or maybe the only piece) of his campaign, given the fact that he had a long history of conflicting and conflicted pronouncements on the topic. Then he failed to answer the Swift Boat attacks, gave a couple of bad quotes, and gave the opposition a chance to take a picture of him while windsurfing…

In the runup to the 2004 election, I heard a lot of signs that were supposed to be very bad for an incumbent president: things like “no president with an approval rating below 50% has been re-elected in X number of years,” and various measurements like that. The country was very sharply divided and there was only so much any one candidate could do about it. Still, Kerry couldn’t capitalize on any opportunities either.

Says the angry single guy living in a converted room in his parents’ garage.

I agree that Kerry didn’t handle the Swiftboat attacks effectively but he did a lot of other things well most notably in terms of his performance at the debates. Again I think a good indication is how Democrats felt about his campaign just before Election day and I think the general feeling was positive and most would have said he had run a decent or at least average campaign. Suppose he had gotten a couple of points more in Ohio and won the election would his campaign have been attacked as “completely ineffectual”? Of course not. And I don’t think you can blame the two points deficit in Ohio solely on Kerry. A number of factors had an impact including the superior GOTV operation of the Republicans and Osama’s last minute message.

Incidentally Kerry's speech at this year's convention was widely praised and there is talk of him being a serious contender for Secretary of State in an Obama administration.

I didn’t say he did everything poorly. He did some very significant things poorly, and I didn’t mention his lack of personality or his inability to connect with people, the latter of which is a Bush strong suit. Kerry debated well, but that turned out to matter less than “I voted for that bill before I voted against it” and the mistakes in framing his campaign, which I mentioned earlier. If he’d run on something other than his Vietnam record, the Swiftboat attacks wouldn’t have been such a big deal.

I don’t think that’s the best way to measure the campaign. People’s hopes and fears color their perceptions too much.

Nobody would care about the faults of his campaign if he’d won, but that doesn’t mean they would no longer exist.

If they had a better GOTV operation than Kerry, that’s Kerry’s fault. That’s the responsibility of the campaign. If Kerry’s was inferior - and by all accounts it was - that’s on him and his people.

It’s true that the Bin Laden message is something they couldn’t control.

The speech was effective, yes, but it was given in a supporting role. I don’t know what it has to do with his campaign in 2004.
As for the Secretary of State thing- serious talk by whom? I haven’t heard it, and I don’t think Obama would consider such a crappy choice.

“If they had a better GOTV operation than Kerry, that’s Kerry’s fault. That’s the responsibility of the campaign. If Kerry’s was inferior - and by all accounts it was - that’s on him and his people.”
I don’t think you can solely blame Kerry for something as vast as a GOTV campaign. The Democratic party, various interest groups, volunteers etc. were all part of it. Besides it might just be that while they did a good job the other side was just better. The gay marriage issue was another outside factor which I am not sure Kerry could do much about.

Ultimately it was a narrow loss in an election which was never going to be easy. Democrats just overestimated how unpopular Bush was in 2004 based on their own feelings for him. He was mildly unpopular but not so much as to erase his advantage of incumbency with an OK economy.

“I don’t know what it has to do with his campaign in 2004.”
Nothing. As I said it was incidental.

I disagree.

When you’re in an election it’s your job to be better than the other side. It’s a contest. If the other side is better, it’s because your side wasn’t good enough. If you look around during this campaign, there has been no end of praise for Obama’s get-out-vote operation, and Rove’s operation for Bush in 2000 and 2004 was also widely acknowledged as being good. They were a step ahead of Kerry’s people in terms of their ability to get in direct contact with potential voters and make sure they came out.

Again, that was smart (though disgusting) campaigning by the Republicans. It wasn’t really an outside factor.

Bush had advantages, but there were also disadvantages Kerry failed to exploit. Hence “failure.”

Kerry had the misfortune to be from Massachusetts in the same year as the Mass. Supreme court became the first state to legalize same sex marriage. No same sex marriage issue, Kerry wins.