I’m not sure if Kenneth Baer is one of the people, specifically, that Atrios is talking about, but his article certainly exemplifies the central issue Atrios and Josh Marshall have identified. Now, John Kerry was not an ideal candidate, and I have no objection to criticism of his campaign (although obviously attacks on the candidate are the least valuable part of a postmortem.) But this type of criticism is worthless. No, worse than worthless, actively self-destructive:
The time for biting our tongues is over, so let’s just say it: Kerry was a bad candidate. He was dealt an amazing hand — a president who was elected without the popular vote, who oversaw the first net loss of jobs in 72 years, and who led the nation into a war under false pretenses — and he blew it.
OK, some political science 101: what variable is Baer leaving out of Kerry’s “amazing” hand? This trivial factor called “incumbency,” which happens to be, er, by far the most important predictor of election success. In addition, while the job numbers were bad, the economy as a whole was a wash; better for Bush than his father. As to the war issue, people who voted on it went overwhelmingly for Kerry, so that wasn’t the problem. At any rate, this simply wasn’t an “amazing hand”. If you want to say it was a good hand considering that he was running against a wartime incumbent, OK, but by that standard Kerry did very well, given that most such Presidents win landslides. The Democratic campaign was a little better than par; a little more successful than you would expect given the political context, but not quite good enough to win.
Anyway, it gets much, much worse:
Part of the reason is that Kerry suffered from a horrendous case of senatoritis: pontificating instead of speaking, orating instead of communicating, and offering programs instead of a vision. His years in Washington also added to the sense that Kerry was part of a cultural elite that didn’t understand the concerns of middle America. (His snowboarding, windsurfing, and Hermes ties didn’t help, either.)
Jeebus H. Fucking Christ. Please show me evidence that swing voters in Ohio would recognize a “Hermes tie” if the media didn’t tell them (I sure wouldn’t). Please explain why, objectively, snowboarding and windsurfing are elite activities, while buying a million-dollar ranch as a campaign prop is not. Please explain why being a Senator makes you “elitist” if you’re a Democrat but not if you’re a Republican. Most importantly, explain why the “elitist” charge is leveled against every single Democratic candidate for President regardless of their hobbies or cultural background. I’m not sure why the American Prospect didn’t just take the logical step and commission an article from Howard Fineman.
I don’t have to solution to the effective ability of Republicans to use the mainstream media to typecast every Democrat as an “out-of-touch elitist,” while they allow callow multi-millionaires to be cast as ordinary guys so long as they’re Republicans. It’s a difficult problem, and as Yglesias notes it most certainly cannot be solved just by switching candidates. But I know one thing: Democrats who repeat these lazy, incredibly destructive media scripts are the part of the problem we can solve. Purge every one of these assholes from the upper reaches of the party. Now. Tell people to stop internalizing and spreading this nonsense, and if they won’t stop making them spokespeople for our party.