Talking in Circles...
I know I said that I would not continue to talk about the election now that it's over, but I can't help it. Just like Michael Corleone, everytime I try to get out, they reel me back in.
There are some people out there, from both political parties, that still do not get it. George Bush won re-election not because of evangelical Christians, Karl Rove, the gay marriage issue or even the Easter Bunny. John Kerry did not lose the election because he was savaged by Bush, "the base" didn't come out, provisional ballots were not counted or bad exit polls.
Bush won for a very simple reason: the majority of people knew waht he was talking about without the need to read between the lines, to discern nuances or to consult a crystal ball. Many may not have agreed with what he said, but they could at leats understand it, and that makes all the difference in the world.
For all I know, John Kerry is an infinitely wonderful human being who has the best intentions, who means well and who genuinely believes his is the better world view. Perhaps it is, to be fair. However, when you listened to Kerry try to explain himself he got lost in the deatils. Consequently, he lost us in the details. Or to be more precise, forgot to mention the important details.
Perhaps a President Kerry would have fought the war differently, we don't know because while Kerry told he would fight it differently, he never exactly told you how he would fight it. Maybe John Kerry did have better ideas on economics, medical care, social security, etc, but we'll never know because he never got past bloviating and politics long enough to put them into black and white.
Perhaps if Kerry had spoken to a reporter or done an interview of substance for the last three months of the campaign and made an effort to explpain, perhaps he might have changed some minds. I doubt it, but it's entirely possible.
The fact is that when asked a direct question, Kerry never gave a direct answer. When asked a softball question that even your pet airdale could answer, Kerry resorted to Washington crapspeak.
Most people in the country speak English, not Senatorese.
Then again, there were some personal things about Kerry that turned a lot of people off. I've heard of rapists being scared into celibacy by being forced to watch a Kerry speech for several hours. Then there was the Mary Cheney incident, perpetrated by both Kerry and Edwards (one of them would have been an accident, both of them doing it was a conscious conspiracy). I'm not sure how many people knew beforehand that Mary Cheney was gay (I did), and I'm not sure how many were shocked to find out. What I can tell you is that most people found it disgusting that a presidential candidate (and his veep) would try to make an issue of someone's personal life.
I know what you're about to say: we made an issue out for Bill Clinton's personal life for eight years, Matt. Let's be serious. Clinton's foibles cannot possibly be considered "personal" when there are allegations of sexual harrassment and rape. It's not personal when State Troopers are instructed to hermetically seal the room while one forces himself upon an unwilling sexual partner (or even a willing one, for that matter). It's definitely not personal when the President of the United States, who takes an oath to uphold the law, commits perjury in a court of law to cover the whole thing up. That Kerry and Edwards did that kind of thing to Mary Cheney was not bad strategy, it wasn't a mistake and it wasn't inadvertant. It was slimy.
What happened to the democrats on Nov. 2 was very simple: people were offered a choice between a straght-talking, well-meaning man with a record of leadership, and bloviator in expensive clothes offering nothing but automatic rejection of his opponent's performance without once giing a clear indication of what he would have done differently. One man had a track record which included revitalizing a moribund economy, finally doing something sensible about public education and a steady hand during a very trying national crisis. The other had a 20 year record with three laws to his name and a penchant for investigations rather than legislating. Bush has charisma, Kerry has the ability to bore you to death. To paraphrase Mr. Kerry, he was "the wrong candidate, in the wrong race, at the wrong time."
Perhaps if we were at peace, with a down economy and with nothing better to worry about, John Kerry might have been President. That's how Bill Clinton got elected, after all. Unfortunately, for Kerry, we're not at peace, the ecomony is humming and we do have more important things to worry about, and so, we elected George Bush. We liked Bush so much, in fact, that we also elected four more republican senators and 6 more republican congresscritters.
And therein is the lesson --- people are pretty satisfied with what they have, and relatively certain of what they're going to get, and won't change just because the other side says they should. "Because I said so" is not the way a presidential candidate goes about persuading the voters. He has to offer information. He has to offer a vision. He MUST offer explanations. Kerry did none of these, and so he lost. The pointy heads can debate all they want about exit polls, internal numbers, voter turnout and 527's all they want. It doesn't change the fact that the American public did not want a candidate that offered opinions without backup.
I SWEAR this is the last time I'll write about election 2004...