John Kerry?s presidential campaign consisted almost entirely of references to his Vietnam service, juxtaposed with ?outraged? statements concerning non-existent Republicans questioning his patriotism. After Kerry made the ridiculous statement that America needed ?regime change,? he came under Republican fire ? and immediately resorted to the Kleenex box. ?I don?t need any lessons in patriotism,? he told reporters. Needless to say, Kerry?s strategy failed.
Sometimes, Democrats even whine about victimization at the hands of other Democrats in a desperate plea for sympathy. Howard Dean, whose presidential campaign was based almost entirely on questioning President Bush?s integrity, is the new Democratic National Committee chairman. Like Kerry, Dean resorted to whimpering when he came under attack. Only this time, he was under attack from rivals within his own party. He responded by calling out then-DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe, sniveling: ?If we had strong leadership in the Democratic Party, they would be calling those other candidates and saying, ?Hey look, somebody's going to have to win here.?? Again, this strategy wasn?t too successful. Dean came in third in the Iowa caucuses, blamed others for attacking him, and then, like a Vermontian Wile E. Coyote, dropped the rest of the way off of the political cliff.
Playing the victim of a political drive-by became popular in the 1990s with President Clinton?s faux despair over the ?politics of personal destruction.? Of course, Clinton was smarter than any of the current Democratic leaders ? he didn?t merely cry and then leave it to the American people to sympathize. He defended himself by dealing directly with charges leveled against him, even if that meant lying.
Today?s Democratic leaders only remember Clinton?s tears, and think they can get away with avoiding legitimate charges by turning on the water works. They?d do well to remember Edmund Muskie, the prospective 1972 Democratic presidential candidate, who fell out of the race because he supposedly shed a few tears after the media ripped his wife. He had a good reason to cry, and he still lost. Democrats like Harry Reid have only their own records to cry about.