Eric Alterman recounts his thoughts after spending a few hours talking with John Kerry about the problems he is having in this campaign. It is a well-written piece that gets the point across that John Kerry is a great man, would have made a great President and Eric just can't seem to figure out why Kerry isn't doing any better.
The reason is plain to see in Eric's own writing: he thinks being president has something to do with the ability to impress a gaggle of "in the know" people in a small room. He thinks it has something to do with experience and erudition. He thinks it has something to do with deserving to get the job.
It has nothing to do with that Eric. It has everything to do with instilling in the average voter the sense that you can actually lead, that you can actually fight, that you can kick butt. Kerry, unfortunately, has never done that in this race.
We may shake our fists at the gods that this is a consequence of our system, that the people who we think most deserve to be our leaders never get the brass ring, but that is how it works.
Eric, like Josh Marshall and many other smart individuals who should know better (because of their long years of exposure to the process up close), continually fail to grasp this simple fact. Perhaps it's because they are so close up that they can't see it. Maybe you need to be farther out here in the wilderness to appreciate that leadership is more about knowledge and issues and erudition.
It's about inspiring people to care enough to get off their butts and get involved again.
If Dean gets the nomination, it will be because he earned it.
John Kerry never has.