In a presidential election it can usually be said that ?failure is not an option.? Losers go on to ambassadorships, become professors or return to their day jobs in Congress. They usually don?t run again. The last losing presidential candidate to make a repeat performance was Richard Nixon, and he waited eight years before he made a second go of it.
So it may come as a bit of a surprise that John Kerry is considering bucking the trend and seeking the presidency again in 2008.
?Kerry sounded very much like a man who was running for president again,? Newsweek wrote after a November interview with the senator. In fact, ?the conventional wisdom, already congealing before Bush?s second Inaugural, pictures Kerry and [Sen. Hillary] Clinton as the early Democratic front runners,? the magazine wrote.
Kerry has now had two months to ponder why he lost. And he hasn?t been alone.
?Liberals and Democrats are way too sensitive to elite editorial page opinion that asks more responsibility from the side it supposedly supports than from the side it supposedly opposes,? Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne explained on Dec. 31. ?Memo to Democrats: Forget the editorial writers and ask yourselves: What Would Bush Do? If you are not as tough as he is, he will crush you -- again.?
Interesting theory. Interesting in that it gets reality exactly backward. Liberals have no need to seek approval from the editorial pages; they?re usually getting it already. It?s conservatives who often step into that trap and ?reach across the aisle? to earn praise from columnists.
A recent example comes from the media firestorm that briefly engulfed Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Would he stay in office, or would he resign over the many alleged failings bandied about in the mainstream media? Some Republican senators weighed in on the side of the editorial writers.
?I have no confidence in Rumsfeld?s leadership,? Nebraska?s Chuck Hagel announced on ?Face the Nation? just before Christmas. Of course, there?s no better way for a Republican senator to get booked on a Sunday talk show than for him to blast the president or the cabinet, so his attack certainly makes political sense.