Tuesday, December 17, 2002

The Democratic Delusion Robert Kutner decodes the Gore story:
Best for Last The lesson for next time is both that the Democratic Party needs to stand for something clear and passionate and that the candidate needs to be comfortable in his or her own skin.
Arrgh! Talk about your cliches. "comfortable in his or her own skin" became the journalist code words in 2000 for, "we don't like him so we're going to distort everything he says and does to make him look like the impression we have of him." Look, Kutner's advice is not bad advice, and in a better world it would be well to listen to it, but it misses one of the key dynamics of the 2000 election: the GOP has an extremely sophisticated smear machine that is hooked into the establishment media (as well as the fifth columnists at FOX) at many levels. There is no Democrat out there, no matter how "comfortable he or she is in their own skin", that will be able to avoid getting the same kind of treatment that Gore got. This is the mistake that the Democrats have made repeatedly for the last two decades (at least). They continue to think the problem their candidates have has something to do with the nature of the candidates. Whether it is the blandness of a Mondale or a Dukakis, the philandering of a Clinton, or the stiffness of a Gore, Democrats like Kutner have convinced themselves that, if they just find the right candidate, they can avoid these problems. But the problems these candidates had were primarily due to the one trait they have in common: they are Democrats Gore made the same mistake in 2000 that Kutner is making now. He thought that, since he wasn't the womanizer that Clinton was, that he could skate on the good record of the Clinton years and get into the White House on a breeze. He never really caught on to the fact that it wasn't his association with Clinton that caused him so much grief. It was solely because he was standing between the Republicans and the throne that they feel they are entitled to. If the Democrats do not wake up and come to terms with this basic political reality then they will continue to field loser after loser for years to come (with, maybe, the occaisional exceptional bright spot of a Clinton). I'm sure many in the Democratic leadership are breathing a sigh of relief because of Gore's decision not to run. They think that, with Gore out of the way, they have a chance to finally field the right candidate that will be acceptable to the press and will win over the hearts and minds of the American people. It ain't gonna happen guys. Grow up.

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