My father wrote me yesterday about Charlie Rose’s recent show discussing “Why Kerry Lost”. To summarize, they thought the loss was not ideological, but a technical failure at campaign execution. The technical failure was both about “Get Out the Vote” and about failing to respond effectively to the Bush portrayal of Kerry as waivering, opportunistic, Eastern, liberal, effeminate, tax and spend weakling. Here’s my response:

I disagree. The democrats had a huge turnout. So did the Republicans. As long as there are other people out there to vote, you can say that one side or the other could have won by getting more of their people out to vote. But that doesn’t alter the basic fact that there are a record number of people who, while perhaps turning out for technical campaign execution reasons, nonetheless voted for Bush based on ideological reasons.

I also disagree that the solution for the Democrats is to move more towards the center, as Clinton did. I saw something that said that Clinton encouraged Kerry to endorse local anti-gay marriage ordinances. This is morally bereft and ideologically adrift. You have to stand for something, or you stand for nothing. We can’t be Republican lite. If you told me that we should not support school integration because the Democrats would end up losing their stranglehold on the South, I would say so be it. And so it was. And here we are. But I would not go back on that.

And here is the substance of my father’s email:

Last night I caught a discussion on TV with Charley Rose and some political experts � editor Newsweek and others who have been involved in politics and are “in-the-know”.

The central question was Why Kerry Lost. If I’m to summarize what they thought, the loss was not ideological but technical failure at campaign execution.�

They said:

The Kerry campaign did not have as experienced people. It took too long to get the right folks. Meanwhile Kerry was battered by Bush as waiving, opportunistic, eastern liberal, effeminate, tax and spend, etc. and there was no effective retort.�

While Bush was weak with lots of bad news – economy, Iraq – there was no clearly defined Bush attack. Kerry’s folks did not distinguish him as different, and as an important credible voice. Before the debates he continued to loose ground � the democratic convention bump was superceded by the republican convention bump and only before the debates did Kerry have a credible able staff and when he appeared for the debate he was then ready and people began to take notice � but it was very late in the process. Bush�s strategist Karl Rowe is a political genius, one of the best ever.

He understood the lessons from senior Bush’s election loss – eroded base, insufficient reach into the center allowing a centrist like Clinton to win – although narrowly.

This time Bush bolstered the religious right and the conservative right so that his base wasn’t going to erode and he could go after the centralists. (Note: he got 25% of the Jewish votes).

To be able to react quickly to changing issues was the Bush campaign strength. They jumped on everything while Kerry’s folks were focusing.

The choice of VP was wrong. Edwards was stone faced in manner and not an asset. Lost his own state (N Car). (Kerry only began to smile late in the campaign). Kerry went after McCain as a VP offering him the VP and the Secretary of Defense -McCain declined (It may have even been unconstitutional for both jobs). Edwards handled himself well in the debate but outside on the stump he wasn’t good.�

Finally the demos have serious problem in the future. The Republicans have two maybe three contestants since both Bush and Cheney are not in the future. McCain, Guiligiani (who can walk into any bar in the US and get a standing ovation and a free drink) – aman who has the posture of a non-military general based on his performance after Sept 11. Maybe Powell. McCain, while he has problems within the Republican party, is a clear possibility for 2008.

Who do the democrats have ???? No one comes to mind.