I hope M2 doesn't mind me posting this, but I think he was dead on clear back in January and had a lot of foresight in what he was saying.
Let me relate a quick story of my own. In that 1996 Kerry-Weld race, I was part of an editorial board that interviewed both candidates for endorsement purposes. Kerry's interview was painful. He didn't provide a single direct answer over the course of a 90-minute discussion. When asked for specifics, he'd heap on more generalizations. When asked about his many flip-flops, he couldn't provide an ounce of clarity. And aloof doesn't begin to describe the man's manner. He was unable to connect with anything other than the blather coming out of his mouth. In contrast, Weld was personable, forthright and direct.
Every single person on that editorial board liked Weld better and believed he was the superior candidate. Yet there was just one problem. This is Massachusetts and folks around here loath the national Republican party. They'll vote for Republican governors as a check against a Democratic legislature, which generally runs the state, yet no way did anyone want any part of a Senator who'd be falling in line with Trent Lott and Newt Gingrich. The one thing Weld wouldn't do was draw a clear line as to when he'd tell his national party to get lost (New England has a number of Republican senators and most have made a habit of doing just that). Over the years, I've talked with people who sat in similar interviews with Kerry and Weld and faced a similar dilemma. Ultimately Weld's refusal to break ranks cost him a slew of endorsements. Ironically, it was his own party that screwed him in the end when he couldn't get a hearing scheduled after Clinton appointed him ambassador to Mexico. See what loyalty will get you in politics?
Anyway, for my paper I had the unpleasant task of writing the editorial endorsement. It was a hot potato and it wound up in my lap. The gist of what I wrote was that we were fairly disappointed in Kerry, but he could at least be counted on to tow the party line on key social issues because it would botch all chances of him seeking higher office if he didn't. Kerry's campaign, in a fitting display of disconnectedness, actually copied the endorsement and passed it around at rallies and as part of its press packet.
His office is notoriously bad on things like constituent services and rarely lends more than token support to other Democrats seeking office (in other words, he's got a reputation as a bad party guy).
I know the Dems are trying to have a love affair with the guy, but I can tell you right now he's every bit as bad a candidate as Mike Dukakis was in 1988.
If you're a Bush backer, you should be overjoyed that Kerry's run out front in the Democratic race.And I'm among the more liberal posters on this board. So I don't need a primer on what's wrong with Bush.
My complaint about Kerry isn't that he's a snob. It's that he's evasive, non-committal and disconnected. If you look at his track record, other than sitting on various committees, he's a fairly undistinguished legislator. He certainly hasn't risked his political capital to champion many causes in his career. That he may be no more evasive than Bush isn't a reason to vote for him.
And people tend to like him less the more they get to know him. I'm not alone in this and it's not just the media. I covered the state Democratic convention two years after Kerry beat Weld, a race where people busted their tails to help Kerry win, and, in a year when the governorship was there for the taking, Kerry didn't give 'em much more than a drive-by. The general reaction from party members? "What do you expect from Kerry? There's nothing in it for him."
If Kerry salts this nomination away by the early March, we'll be treated to eight months of watching a candidate disintegrate. He's going to make it hard for lifelong Democrats to pull his lever let alone independents.
I'm just giving folks a warning. If you really want someone to beat Bush in November, John Kerry isn't the person to do it.
I don't think he's a bad guy per se so much as a typical, self-interested politician. He's a fine campaigner and a successful political animal, but I've never met anyone, not one person, who expressed confidence that things would swing their way because John Kerry was on their side. He's as wishy-washy as they come, a technocrat of the first order.
The Democrats may be on the verge of nominating an empty suit. No one loves this guy.