24 November 2004


Arianna Huffington has a fascinating article about the mistakes of the Kerry campaign.
In conversations with Kerry insiders over the last nine months, I've heard a recurring theme: that it was Shrum and the Clintonistas (including Greenberg, Carville and senior advisor Joe Lockhart) who dominated the campaign in the last two months and who were convinced that this election was going to be won on domestic issues, like jobs and healthcare, and not on national security.

As Tom Vallely, the Vietnam War veteran whom Kerry tapped to lead the response to the Swift boat attacks, told me: "I kept telling Shrum that before you walk through the economy door, you're going to have to walk through the terrorism/Iraq door. But, unfortunately, the Clinton team, though technically skillful, could not see reality --- they could only see their version of reality. And that was always about pivoting to domestic issues. As for Shrum, he would grab on to anyone's strategy; he had none of his own."

Her description rings true, as far as it goes, but given how crafty the Republicans are at framing the debate, I wonder whether other strategy really could have worked any better. Yes, tactically, the Kerry team should have had a rapid-response team early to KO stuff like the Swiftvets for Bullshit, but strategically, it's going to take a long-term party-wide (and beyond) effort to take control of the issues on the table.

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