John Kerry lost the White House because he played by the rules -” The DLC rules. The Democratic Leadership Council appointed JFK as their standard bearer because they trusted him to contain the campaign within the red lines drawn by Joseph Lieberman and Haim Saban. As a starting point, Kerry willingly sold his soul to the DLC devils and set out to derail Howard Dean’s insurgency. Beyond that, he was free to win or lose against Bush -” so long as he accepted some basic DLC guidance on domestic and foreign policy.
Kerry accepted the DLC’s argument that it would be a dangerous mistake to energize the Democratic Party’s base because the rank and file might be tempted to tinker with the party’s agenda. He was advised that he could bank on the Anybody But Bush vote. It follows that he didn’t feel any obligation to curry favor with the peace movement or progressives.
In ignoring the anti-war movement, Kerry made a fatal choice. Because one of the unique characteristics of this generation of peace activists is that many of them are older, middle class and conservatives. This was the kind of peace movement where Pat Buchanan and George Soros were marching in solidarity with Alexander Cockburn and Michael Moore. Ex-CIA agents and ex-generals and state department veterans saw common cause with left coast peaceniks.
The momentum behind the ABB movement was fueled by a genuine disgust on both the right and left with Bush’s neo-con unilateral war mongering strategy. Activists on both sides of the political divide were concerned with the erosion in America’s stature on the world stage.
Kerry was fully aware that his sponsors at the DLC were heavily influenced by neo-con ideology. In fact, the DLC is an integral part of the war party. Whether out of conviction or opportunism, JFK willingly allowed them to have their way. He postured as Bush Heavy on the war and got licked fair and square on tangential domestic issues. The DLC convinced Kerry that he was ‘Anybody’ and that the election was just a referendum on Bush. Now that the results are in, it is clear that this election started out as a referendum against the war. When Kerry came out in favor of Bush’s foreign policy -” it became a beauty contest about who had ‘leadership skills’ and ‘moral values’. Given Kerry’s capitulation to the DLC, maybe the voters made a rational choice.
An analysis of Kerry’s performance makes it easy enough to do a little reverse engineering and put together a basic blueprint of the DLC’s campaign strategy -” which amounted to a tailor made straight jacket for their anointed candidate.
This is my educated guess of the DLC’s marching orders to Kerry:
– Control the urge to say, “9/11 happened on your watch, Mr. President.”
– Don’t grill Bush on why he obstructed the work of the 9/11 commission.
– Ignore the Office of Special Plan’s role in corrupting pre-war intelligence.
– Continue denying that there is any link between terrorism and America’s foreign policy
– Forget about Iraqi civilian casualties -” remember that ‘we don’t do body counts’.
– Don’t ask for a grand jury for Dick Cheney and Halliburton. Ignore the following heavy breathing headlines: “Halliburton cooks books”. “Shareholders sue Vice President and SEC investigates.” “No bid contracts awarded to Cheney’s company.” “Cheney’s company overcharges Pentagon for fuel.” “Halliburton gets cost plus contracts from Pentagon.” “Neo-cons ride to power on a Trojan Horse named Dick”.
– Of course, The Plame case is off limits. Don’t open that “neo-con” can of worms.
– AIPAC’s Pentagon spy scandal is not to be mentioned.
– Don’t call for Ashcroft to account for his cover up of national security crimes committed by Bush insiders in the Plame and AIPAC case.
– Do the war hero routine instead of giving anti-war speeches. When you salute and report for duty -” remember your commanding officers are stationed at the DLC.
– Don’t utter a word against the neo-conservatives. Better still; don’t let the ‘neo-con’ word pass your lips.
– Don’t insult Cheney and Wolfowitz for being chicken hawks.
– Pretend you never heard of Paul Wolfowitz and don’t ask for his resignation.
– Don’t call attention to Richard Perle and his involvement in the financial rape of the Hollinger group. Don’t ask out loud if his support for the war had anything to do with his longstanding Likud ties.
– Douglas Feith is also off limits. Don’t demand a vigorous investigation of his role in the Plame case or the AIPAC spy scandal.
– The American Enterprise Institute doesn’t exist and there are no Likudnik moles in the Pentagon.
– Don’t ask Bush about his failure to promote democracy in Kuwait or Saudi Arabia.
– Accept the canard that Bush and the neo-cons are out to promote freedom and democracy in Iraq. Don’t point out the bait and switch on the rationale for the war.
– Promise to rain hell on Fallujah once you are elected -” all in the name of freedom and democracy.
– Don’t ask if Bush had ulterior motives for invading Iraq. Don’t suggest that the invasion had anything to do with oil or the financial interests of the Bush family in managing the $900 billion Saudi investment portfolio.
– Keep a healthy distance from Senators Byrd and Senator Hollings and any other
– Democrat crazy enough to challenge the Israel First crowd.
– Waste as much time as possible on spinning stories about your medals and heroism in shooting down unarmed peasants in Vietnam with the able assistance of your ‘band of brothers.’ Don’t bore the public with “the last man to die” mantra.
– Don’t mention Abu Ghraib. War Crimes happen -” you should know. So, don’t go there.
– Don’t emphasize the missing WMDs.
– Don’t quote Robin Cook’s take on Charles Duelfer’s report on the phantom WMDs. “It establishes that Iraq had no stockpile, no biological agents, no chemical feedstocks, no plants to manufacture them and no delivery systems to fire them. Saddam was no threat to us and had no weapons of mass destruction to pass to terrorists. Brushing the UN inspectors aside in order to go to war on false intelligence was a colossal blunder."
– Don’t quote David Kay’s conclusions about WMDs: “We were almost all wrong”.
– Don’t remind the public of what Bush said about WMDs: “But for those who say we haven’t found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they’re wrong, we found them.” Before the war, Bush was even more emphatic: "Saddam is building and hiding weapons that could enable him to intimidate the civilized world."
– Don’t embarrass Donald Rumsfeld who claimed that he knew the exact location of the WMDs. He famously asserted that "We know where they are.”
– Don’t suggest that the $600 million spent on searching for WMDs after David Kay’s report was perhaps the most expensive cover-up in American History.
– Don’t ask about the missing Bin Laden -” unless he shows up. If Bush doesn’t want to discuss OLB -” be polite and drop the subject.
– Don’t call attention to the 9/11 commission, which found no links between Iraq and Al Qaida.
– Don’t be too inquisitive about why Saddam has yet to be tried
– Show your support for the troops by supporting the war in Iraq. Vow to escalate the conflict and promise to place more young Americans in harm’s way. Avoid talking about an exit strategy.
– Don’t mention that Estonia is standing shoulder to shoulder with America in Iraq -” providing a total of 12 soldiers. Don’t give away the miniscule number of Mongolian and Micronesian warriors who are members of the “coalition of the willing”.
– Don’t challenge the mass media’s role in promoting the Iraq war.
– Don’t start mouthing off about the ‘media controlled state’ or ask for equal time on FOX. Don’t call Rupert Murdoch to the mat for usurping so much political power.
– Avoid exposure to the press. Just say no to press conferences. Dodging ‘hostile’ journalists has done wonders for Bush.
– Don’t talk about campaign finance reform -” and always remember who is picking up your election tab.
– Don’t make an issue of Bush’s mental health or suggest that he is intellectually challenged. Only Rove is allowed to indulge in defamation.
– Don’t ask why Bush has not demanded justice for the murder of Rachel Corrie.
– Pretend you didn’t notice Sharon’s apartheid wall. If it comes up, call it a fence.
– Don’t dare challenge Israel’s ‘right’ to slaughter Palestinians on a daily basis. Call it self-defense. Don’t make an issue of American financed collective punishment.
– When Sharon snubs you, act like a wimp and send your brother, Cameron, to Tel Aviv to lick his boots.
– Follow Bush’s lead and support the right of Israel to confiscate Palestinian land and expand its borders.
– Deny the Palestinian right to return. But insist on Cameron’s right of return, as a convert to Judaism.
– Don’t challenge Bush’s policy to isolate Arafat. Maintain the fiction that a serial war criminal like Sharon is a ‘man of peace’ searching for a Palestinian partner to negotiate with.
– Don’t bring up recent Israeli revelations that Sharon played Bush for a fool and had no intention of implementing the Road Map.
– Neither America nor Israel wants a Middle East peace process. So, don’t promise any rash new initiatives to resolve the Israeli/Palestinian conflict
– When the Kremlin endorses Bush, don’t dare tell Putin to stuff it.
– When Allawi endorses Bush, don’t make an issue of his CIA connections. Don’t point out that it is illegal for the CIA or CIA operatives to intrude on American elections.
– When Blair endorses Bush, pretend you didn’t notice.
– If the Bush campaign criticizes you for claiming the support of ‘Old European’ allies -” apologize and get tough with the French. Promise to be as unilateral as the current administration.
– Don’t start getting too continental and cozy up to our European allies. That might damage the strategic American-Israeli relationship.
– Think ‘Israel First’ and forget about the rest of the world.
– Threaten Iran anytime you get a chance. When you have time, threaten the Saudis.
– Promise to be Bush Heavy -” not Bush Lite.
– Don’t criticize Powell for capitulating to Rumsfeld and his neo-cons.
– Don’t brag about licking Bush in the debates. Show courtesy for a fellow alumni of Yale and Skull and Bones.
– Don’t ask if Cheney is really in charge. Don’t hint that Cheney’s performance in the debates suggests that he consistently trounces Bush in internal White House debates.
– Don’t bring up Pat Robertson’s claim that Bush estimated there would be no casualties in Iraq. Don’t press the president to confess that he had no idea what he was getting into.
– Don’t press the Pentagon to release their worst case estimates for American and Iraqi casualties.
– Don’t point our that Bush spent over ten times the entire Foreign Aid budget on regime change in Iraq.
– Don’t be petty and remind the public of Bush’s ‘mission accomplished’ sign.
– Don’t ask the neo-cons what happened to the ‘cakewalk’ in Iraq.
– Say you have a plan to win the Iraq war but don’t give out any details and don’t define the parameters of a ‘win’. Don’t promise Americans or Iraqis a deadline for withdrawal.
– Even if Afghanistan remains unfinished business -” don’t dwell on it.
– Don’t ask for a progress report on the Enron scandal or other corporate mischief.
– Don’t go out on the limb and talk about race relations in America.
– Don’t back down from your support of the Patriot Act.
– Don’t dwell on the trade deficit and globalism.
– Don’t bring up the 30% decline in the value of the Dollar.
– Be restrained when talking about the outsourcing of American jobs. Don’t promise to stop it.
– Don’t ask why oil prices have tripled since Bush was elected.
– Don’t mention Koyoto or Global Warming.
– Don’t make any rash promises about ending world hunger.
– Don’t ask why Sweden is never a target of terrorists.
– If Karl Rove makes ‘leadership’ the issue, bite.
– If Karl Rove makes gay marriage the issue, bite.
– If Karl Rove makes abortion the issue, bite.
– If Karl Rove makes ‘values’ the issue, bite.
– If Karl Rove makes guns an issue, show up in a silly outfit and pretend you are Hemingway on an African Safari.
– If George Bush asks, “who do you trust”, don’t call him a compulsive liar.
– Don’t promote class warfare by coddling the labor movement.
– Don’t make an issue of the minimum wage. The only poor people that vote are Rove’s evangelical faithful.
– Don’t promote secular values and separation of church and state.
– If the Catholic Church attacks you -” don’t complain to the Pope.
– Don’t act intellectual. Americans voters might think you’re talking down to them. Make an effort to dumb down your message
– Get Theresa to practice yawning in public.
– Don’t make an appeal for liberal and progressive support. Declare yourself a conservative. Better still, declare yourself a card carrying member of the neo-con cabal.
– Don’t consider rallying the minority vote.
– Don’t make an appeal to non-interventionist conservatives. It would only ignite a struggle against neo-con control of the Republican Party.
– Don’t make some idealistic speech against bigotry.
– Don’t challenge the Christian right to be more Christian.
– Don’t challenge American Jews to consider Palestinian rights.
– Don’t pay attention to the Senate races.
– Forget about the South. Let Bush challenge you on your blue turf and leave him the red patches on the map.
– Run against Nader, not Bush.
– Remember that defeating Dean is Job One.
– Teach the good doctor the price of criticizing the DLC for being as the "Republican wing of the Democratic Party".
– Don’t mention the DLC or straight jackets
– Do not alter this list without first consulting the DLC.
– Betray your party, but don’t ever dare cross the DLC.
Other than the above guidance from the DLC, Kerry was pretty much free to be his own man. Unfortunately for the Democrats, once Joseph Lieberman and Haim Saban took their pound of flesh, there was precious little meat left on the bones of the other Skull and Bones candidate. In accepting to play by DLC rules, Kerry threw away the keys to the White House. The Democratic Party is destined to continue losing national elections as long as their candidates are attired in DLC straight jackets.