Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Romney is Kerry redux and 2012 is 2004

Its beginning to look a lot like 2004. Democrats are famous for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. The GOP is doing its best to outdo the democrats and return the favor in 2012. Lets rewind to 2004 to relive how Kerry helped Bush get re-elected.

Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" a political documentary that made no pretensions of the filmmakers bias grossed $100 Million at the box office. The documentary had more satire than facts, its a Moore documentary, enough said. At the theater I watched the audience gave it standing ovation. The country was in turmoil over the Iraq war. Iraq was front, left and center in the election. The Orlando Sentinel, a key newspaper in a key battleground state, endorsed John Kerry. It was the first endorsement by that paper of a democrat pin 40 years. The Economist endorsed Kerry over Bush in its cover story titled "Incomprehensible Vs Incompetent". The Sentinel's endorsement of Kerry was a resounding snub to Bush detailing Bush's policy failures beyond just Iraq. So how did Kerry lose?

Kerry, like Hillary Clinton, had voted to authorize the use of force in Iraq but facing a stridently anti-war party he tried to do amends that earned him the sobriquet "flip-flop". Kerry did his best to strengthen the narrative and his worst moment was when he voted down an appropriations bill to pay for military in Iraq. He had earlier voted for it and reversed his vote in the final amendment. When criticized for voting against the armed forces in harms way Kerry responded, very famously, "I voted for it before I voted against it". Eager to lure gun owners, a traditional GOP bloc, Kerry went duck hunting and had a photo that made him look ludicrous. Having earned the "flip-flop" label Kerry provided Bush with the perfect photo to go with it. Against the advise of his consultants Kerry went wind surfing and the photo promptly went into GOP ads. Also a millionaire candidate going wind surfing did not help while his VP candidate, John Edwards (a millionaire trial lawyer) was screaming about "two Americas, one for the rich and another for the poor". Kerry, born rich and married rich, was criticized for being 'out of touch'. John Edwards before he made millions was poor and used to go to Wendys to celebrate his wedding anniversary. During the campaign Edwards took Kerry to Wendy's, Kerry could not eat there.

Given the Iraq war backdrop Kerry staked out his candidacy on just one issue, that he could be better commander-in-chief. Kerry is a genuine war hero, unlike Bush whose dodging of draft was laughed about. Kerry served in Vietnam and earned three Purple Hearts and was discharged. He was in-charge of the 'swift boat' division. Out of nowhere sprang Vietnam vets who criticized Kerry as 'unfit to lead' (an eponymous book also was helpfully published) based on nothing but lies. Disillusioned by America's fate in Vietnam Kerry became anti-war, testified in the congress, threw his medals. At the convention when he came on stage Kerry said "I am John Kerry and I am reporting for duty" with a salute. The next day New York Times cribbed that his almost hour long speech had just 3-4 lines about his decades long service in the senate.

While Obama is not as hated as Bush was in 2004 there is lot of disgruntlement and after the drubbing that democrats got in 2010 2012 was supposed to be the year of GOP candidates. Kerry was not the best Democrat to contest in 2004. The best, especially Hillary Clinton, decided to sit out thinking they would have a better chance in 2008 when the electorate would be thirsting for a change from 8 years of a Republican President. Likewise the most looked up to GOP candidates decided to sit out 2012. Out of a weak field emerged Mitt Romney.

Just like Kerry Romney too is staking his claim to the Presidency on just one agenda. Romney makes the economy as the only criteria to elect him. After Bill Clinton's legendary thumping of Bush Sr in 1992 based on "it's the economy stupid" it has become customary, especially with soaring unemployment, to cite that. Conservative columnist William Kristol acidly wrote "its not only the economy, stupid". Romney will learn that when he watches Obama coast to an easy victory.

Romney like Kerry has a penchant for landing his foot in his mouth. Like Kerry Romney is now labeled a flip flop. Like Kerry Romney is mocked for not having a "core". Romney and Kerry both hail from Massachusetts, a very liberal state. Romney is now mocked by his GOP detractors as being a RINO (Republican in Name Only). Only a RINO can get elected as GOP governor in Massachusetts. No Texan or Georgian republican can ever get elected in MA. GOP senate candidate Scott Brown shook the political world by winning what was called 'Ted Kennedy's seat' and he is pretty much a RINO too though he was once a tea party darling.

Kerry was fully heroic in his service in Vietnam and even more heroic in his denunciation of that war later. But the GOP slander machine worked over time to discredit him. Bob Dole, 1996 GOP Presidential candidate, archly said "three Purple Hearts and no injury" (Dole has a permanent injury from his service and Kerry had none). Romney has not done a single illegal dealing as businessman and by all accounts was a good boss, made money for his investors and helped create some good iconic American companies. Yet the Democrat slander machine is now working overtime (and including his GOP rivals) in circulating highly debunked documentary "Romney: King of Bain". Kerry was inarticulate in defending his anti-Vietnam protests, Romney is completely incapable of defending his work at Bain. Kerry had his duckshoot, Romney has his gaffe on being afraid of pink slips and more gaffes on how his earnings from speeches, $340K, was 'not much', '$10,000 bet' etc.

Romney has been compared to past presidential contenders, always the comparisons were with losers. When Kerry staked his candidacy on being a better commander-in-chief the Iraq war was raging hot. Seeing the unemployment drop in January a commentator mused on this danger of Romney talking like the only reason people need to elect him is his ability to fix the economy, "if the economy fixes itself by November, what is Romney's rationale for asking people to vote".

Romney will lose to Obama. If, and this is a very big if, Romney wins it would be ranked a more thrilling win than what Truman had over Dewey.

No comments: