Why Kerry lost
Ah, I kid. I’m actually quite fond of John Kerry, stilted speech and utter lack of charisma and all.
Since speculating about a) why Kerry lost and b) why the environment didn’t play a bigger role in the election never goes out of style, I found this interesting:
Seated in his modest Senate office, Kerry reflected on why matters like the environment — an issue he believes remains potent with the electorate — had not won him election in November.
“There was one dominant complication in the year 2004,” Kerry said. “It’s called the war. The war on terror. It’s the only thing Bush people really talked about, advertised on, scared people about.”
Some environmentalists have faulted Kerry — as they did Vice President Al Gore before him — for not making matters such as Alaska drilling, regulating air and water pollution, forest management and endangered species protection a higher priority during the campaign. In rebuttal, Kerry cited a half a dozen events he held during the campaign, including Earth Day in Houston, and events focused on Great Lakes protection in Michigan and coastal erosion in Louisiana.
Had it not been for the threat of terror, he said, “I think the environment would have emerged as a greater issue, as would health care and education. A lot of issues were drowned out. And purposely so by the administration, because their strategy was obviously to use the war as the fulcrum that it was. It was … effective.”
It’s fashionable in eco-circles to call bullshit on this, but I actually think it’s accurate. It was a narrow loss and there are plenty of things that could have tipped the balance, but I’m inclined to doubt that raising the volume on environmental issues is one of them. If I had to rank them, I’d say 1) a better national security message, 2) smarter campaign tactics (especially on the Swift Boat stuff), and 3) a more mediagenic personality.