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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Kerry Bows Out

John Kerry announced yesterday that he’s not running for president in 2008.As a from-the-beginning Kerry supporter in 2004, and as someone who’s been doing some writing work for him more recently, I think it was the right decision, painful as it was for a guy who clearly wishes he could re-do the last presidential election and get it right (not to mention a guy who was told he had won early on Election Night, based on what appeared to be clear evidence from unusually flawed exit polls). JK is especially haunted by the Swift Boat smears, which he views not only as a key turning point in the campaign, but as a dangerous precedent for blatant character assassination working at the highest levels of American politics. I can’t even imagine what it must feel like (for Al Gore, as well as for John Kerry) to wake up every day thinking how the course of world and national events might be very different had a handful of votes gone the other way in 2000 and 2004. It doesn’t help that under our winner-take-all system, that handful of votes (in the case of Al Gore, a couple of votes on the Supreme Court) meant the difference between being Commander in Chief and Leader of the Free World, and having, well, no real power at all.Anyone who’s spent any time around John Kerry knows he is a tireless, endlessly energetic man. He will remain very active in the Senate and in Democratic politics. And even if he never gets to enter a room to the strains of “Hail to the Chief,” he can now say what he thinks and get a hearing for the content of his words, not for the political motives others are so quick to ascribe.

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