Newsweek published an article at its website Saturday about last week’s John Kerry foot-in-mouth debacle. One couldn’t immediately tell the motives behind the piece from the title: “Botched; Assessing the damage done to Democrats—and his own chances in ’08—by John Kerry’s epically flubbed joke.” Nor could one glean the significance of the authors involved: Susannah Meadows with Howard Fineman and Eleanor Clift. However, in the end, when taken in its entirety, it appears fairly obvious that this was the beginning of the assassination, and John Kerry’s chances of making a second run for president have been officially kyboshed.
The hit job started innocently: “Chuck Schumer got right to the point. On Thursday afternoon, the New York Senator, who’s leading the Democrats’ efforts to win back the Senate, called John Kerry and let him have it.”
Clift et al gathered steam:
Three Democratic candidates, including Bob Casey in Pennsylvania, cancelled appearances with the senator. Rep. Harold Ford, locked in a key senate race in Tennessee, called on Kerry to apologize. Hillary Clinton chimed in, calling the former Democratic nominee’s comments “inappropriate.”
The wind was at their backs: “Clearly, this was not how Kerry envisioned his comeback. Banished to the political wilderness after losing to Bush, Kerry has been plotting his second run at the White House. Though always well behind Hillary Clinton in national polls, he was at least in the running on paper, consistently neck-and-neck with Al Gore and John Edwards.”
And, they moved in for the kill: “Now, he faces even longer odds. For the moment, at least, Kerry is simply radioactive among Democrats.”
They then bludgeoned the motionless body to make sure it didn’t get back up:
On the ground in New Hampshire, some activists who’d been open to him pre-blunder, were now shutting their doors and turning out the lights. “It’s not that this gaffe was so bad,” says Ann McLane Kuster, a prominent New Hampshire activist, “But it plays into all the traits he has that are out of touch, like using intelligence as a way to distinguish himself rather than compassion. The underlying joke wasn’t funny.”
And, burned the body in effigy:
Not surprisingly, the judgments were a little less diplomatic inside the Beltway. “There is not a Democrat in Washington who thinks John Kerry is a viable presidential candidate after last week,” says a longtime Democratic strategist (who isn’t working for one of Kerry’s potential rivals). The strategist, who spoke freely and at length about Kerry on the condition of anonymity, says the gaffe reminds Democrats that he is politically inept. “This is not something that will linger in pool halls and bars and normal places in America,” he says, “but among the donors and activists who like to win, this memory will last a long time. Remember, his entire candidacy is based on electability. And when that’s the basis of your candidacy, and you’ve already lost once, amateur hour doesn’t begin to describe John Kerry. And that’s without even getting into the personal animus towards the guy.”
Now, for those that are questioning the assessment of this piece, I might agree if Clift and Fineman weren’t involved. However, when a magazine like Newsweek publishes such a scathing article about such a high-ranking Democrat, and advertises that its two top political writers contributed, one should take it seriously.
In the end, the Democrats have never been kind to failed presidential candidates. Al Gore until his recent global warming makeover was practically persona non grata after his loss to George W. Bush in 2000. Most Democrats probably don’t even know who Michael Dukakis is. And, it took Walter Mondale almost two decades to rub off the stench from his atrocious 1984 presidential run.
As such, the Democrat big-wigs must be loving the gift that Kerry gave them this week. Obviously, the timing was lousy coming just eight days before a critical midterm election. As a result, the real execution can’t officially happen until after November 7. However, with Clift and Fineman’s handwriting on this wall, it seems quite clear that win or lose next Tuesday, the Democrats will have no tolerance for a Kerry presidential run in two years. If Time magazine follows this up with a similarly negative piece, you can stick a fork in this man.