Gore and Kerry and Clinton, Oh My
"All people are born alike - except Republicans and Democrats." Groucho Marx
In the democratic process, it's not over til it's over.
In the Democratic Party, it's over when somebody is publicly excoriated, humiliated and undermined by lies, innuendo and personal agendas.
In the Republican Party, it's only over for the Other Guy, after a rousing game of dig up the dirt, spin dross into dirt, throw the dirt, buy some soulless ditch diggers, say a lot of self-serving prayers and bury the Democratic opposition.
In a perfect world, Gore should have learned that from Ducacus, Kerry from Ducacus and Gore, Hillary from Ducacus, Kerry and Gore. But it's not a perfect world.
All four ran campaigns more imperfect than for any Eighth Grade Treasurer (Pick Me! Pick Me!). When attacked, the first three ignored, refused to defend or cry foul, engaged in massive denial. At least Hillary Clinton kept plugging, explored every avenue, attempted to Go the Distance.
Too little too late, especially combined with betrayal after betrayal by fellow Democrats with nothing to gain or lose, no ideological difference save personal animus for Bill or Hillary or both.
And unbelievably, Hillary chose equally arrogant, ineffectual advisers as her predecessors. (And ignored the best, brightest advice available). All those advisers allowed the candidates to run the campaigns. To make major strategic decisions. Big mistake. Really. Really. Big.
Political marketing has been a science for decades. Now in the 21st Century, and especially at the presidential level, it's become astrophysics. Mastering that particular skill isn't in the candidate's job description. Nor is it a role we want him or her to fill.
In smart campaigns, the candidate determines policies, positions, goals, visions. Schmoozes the big money. Appeals to smaller donors too. Does his/her homework and shows up ready to rumble.
It's up to the political pros to stage the right rumble, set the right stage, brainstorm and execute the best strategies to get the message out and the candidate in.
Winning campaigns are poised from day one to read the country's mind, locate the sweet spot, fill the money pot, have fallbacks and Hail Mary's at the ready, know the big stuff from the small stuff and never appear to sweat either.
It's pretty clear the Obama campaign figured that out from the jump. As did the McCain team, though that's no surprise ... Republicans have made political campaigning an atomic art form.
It's very clear Team Hillary got it wrong. (My former pol colleagues and I have been making these same points to each other for months. Hats off to Karen Tumulty of Time for getting it right).
No matter what happens before or during the Democratic National Convention this summer, I fear much of the country will look back in dismay next November and for years to come, wondering how a war-mongering Republican became President of the United States. Again.
Still, it's not over til it's over.