I was planning on making my first journal entry on this subject, and was posting this on Salon, so why not cut and past and save myself a bunch of retyping. Anyway....
Why he lost...to be bruttaly honest, because Kerry ran an incompetent campaign. Yes, Rove did a marvelous job at turning out even more voters from the religious right, which I didn't think was possible. But those should have been the ONLY votes Bush should have been able to count on. The Democratic party could have put a garden rake in the race against Bush, run a decent campaign, and they should have won.
More specifically, on what Kerry did wrong: first, he had no platform whatsoever. Just a bunch of talking points. He could have been as nuanced as he wanted on as many subjects as he wanted, but for gawds sakes he should have come up with a damn platform! 5 simple, easy to explain issues he would work on as soon as he got into office, and 5 reasons why not to vote for Bush. Say 1) increase minimum wage by x amount 2) increase troop pay and benefits 3) $150 billion for infrastructure (creates jobs and gets rid of pot holes 4) increase REAL domestic security, not just hassle guys named Mohammed at airports 5) redo the Bush tax package, and make a cut on payroll taxes this time.
Second, while he was busy having no platform, he stuck his best weapon in rural Ohio and left him there: John Edwards. Even the most hard core Republican has to admit that list of Bush screwups is miles long. Lets see, who's good at taking facts, not rhetoric, and putting them together in an airtight case? Goddamn John Edwards. It was his profession for a lot longer than he was a Senator. He made millions doing it. Edwards should not have been making stump speeches in rural Ohio, he should have been a highly visible fixture on TV, laying out a case on why Bush is the Worst President Ever, in such an airtight fashion that not even Rush Limbaugh could argue with it.
Lastly, and unforgivably, he let the Republicans define him. Oh, charges of flip-flopping, THAT's never happened in politics before. And WTF did I learn from Salon, rather than Kerry, that Kerry is actually the 11th most liberal Senator? And the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth guys have been dogging him since the freaking 70's. That Kerry would sit on his ass for months and not respond to them blows my mind. Why the hell do Democrats need to keep relearing the lessons of 1988? Not dignifying their opponents attacks with a responce worked SO WELL for Presidents Dukakis and Gore. If Kerry's team had taken just five fucking minutes at the start of the race to brainstorm possible GOP lines of attack, they would have come up with snappy comebacks to any of these charges.
For example, during the debate where Bush said that Kerry made Ted Kennedy look like the conservative senator from Massachusetts, Kerry should have pounced, and said something like: "This should be a surprise to no one, but that is a diliberate and dishonest distortion of my record. The rating that the President is referring to is for only ONE YEAR, where I voted with my fellow Democrats 94% of the time. If you look at the LIFETIME rakings, you'll find there are 10 Senators more liberal than I am, including Paul Wellstone, God rest his soul. And the President should not throw stones in glass houses. He lost the popular vote by half a million votes, and yet he has governed with a hard right agenda as if he had a mandate won by a landslide."
Or on the subject of flip-flopping: "Again, the President should not throw stones in a glass house. First the President was against the creation of the 911 comission, then he was for it. First he was against the creation of a Department of Homeland Security, an idea thought up by *Democrats*, then he was for it. Lastly, and most dispicably, he took credit for Texas being 'one of the first states to allow patients to sue their HMOs', when in fact he VETOED that legislation the first time it was passed."
Lets hope that in 2008 we find someone with a brain and some balls to challenge the GOP. The Republicans didn't win because they are great at campaigning - they won because the Democrats have been hopelessly bad at it. We should be talking about the gigantic Kerry landslide and all the Kerry Republicans, not taking stiff drinks and bracing ourselves for the next four years.