``I think the Union army had something to do with it.''
-- Gen. George Pickett, years afterward, on why his charge at Gettysburg failed.
WASHINGTON -- John Kerry's liberalism had something to do with his defeat. Hence so did this: By Jan. 20, 2009, all the elected presidents for 44 consecutive years will have come from three Southern states -- Texas, Arkansas, Georgia -- and Southern California.
Kerry ran a high-risk ``biography candidacy'' based on a four-month period 35 years ago. His contrasting silence about his 20 Senate years echoed. He was an anomalous kind of challenger. The most important changes he promised would be either restorations or resistances. That is, he campaigned as the candidate of complacency, albeit a curdled, backward-looking complacency. Regarding foreign policy, he promised to turn the clock back, to the alliance-centered foreign policy prior to the intrusion of the ``nuisance'' of terrorism. Regarding domestic policy, he promised to stop the clock, preventing any forward movement on entitlement reform to cope with the baby boomers' retirements.
Never in this marathon did Kerry himself do anything to change the campaign's dynamics. He counted on events in Iraq, and on the power of his party's unconcealed belief that Bush is an imbecile. But Democrats cannot disguise from the country their bewilderment about how to appeal to a country that is so backward, they think, that it finds Bush appealing.
Democrats, notoriously cold toward losing candidates they have improvidently nominated, resemble Dallas fans as described by quarterback Roger Staubach: ``Cowboy fans love you, win or tie.'' They should rethink their compressed nominating calendar -- Kerry was effectively selected by the 135,000 who voted for him in Iowa and New Hampshire -- and the fetish of allowing those two states, rather than, say, Michigan, to dominate the process.