Jonah Goldberg

Even more damning was the informal poll conducted by Kerry himself. The windsurfing William Jennings Bryan gathered together his team of moneymen, activists and consultants at his posh Georgetown pied-a-terre as part of his effort to get the band back together for '08. He opened the dinner conversation by asking his "loyalists" if he should run again. Normally, you'd expect Kerry's closest backers to say "yes" just out of politeness alone. But Kerry was greeted with the sort of total silence reserved for questions that shouldn't be asked, like "Does this make me look fat?" So, according to an account in The New York Post, Kerry proceeded to tell everyone present why he should run again.

The simple fact is that John Kerry never should have gotten the nomination in 2004 anyway. He stumbled into it after tripping over the crater left behind by Howard Dean's self-destruction. Democrats figured Kerry was the most "electable," forgetting that electability is often cover for spinelessness and, in voters, is usually based on the hope that someone else will like the guy even if you don't. Quick: ask yourself what Kerry has accomplished after more than two decades in the Senate. Kerry himself couldn't even come up with a good answer to that. Even former Democratic National Committee chair Terry McAuliffe labels the Kerry campaign a case of "political malpractice."

In 2008, the election won't be a referendum on President Bush, and without Kerry's advantage of being "not Bush," re-nominating a dull-witted, gormless Boston aristocrat would be malpractice on the order of picking an accountant as your heart surgeon.

Democrats convinced themselves that Kerry was a war hero slandered by the Swift Boat Vets for Truth and Karl Rove. But the basic fact is that Kerry was a unique case. Fine, he served honorably in Vietnam. Good for him. But he returned home to disparage the troops and the United States and build a lifelong political career not on his service abroad but on his protest at home. And, of course, the Democrats can still be the antiwar party without nominating an antiwar fossil. But if the Democrats want to throw us all on that briar patch, I can assure you Lee Atwater will be smiling somewhere.

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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