Skip to comments.Kerry Watches Presidential Parade Go By
Posted on 07/06/2007 4:13:43 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
Dashed White House ambitions, John Kerry has learned, can be humbling.
The Massachusetts Democrat is the first failed presidential nominee since George McGovern in 1972 to return to his day job in the Senate, surrounded by White House wannabes.
Kerry insists it hasn't bothered him to watch from the sidelines as current and former colleagues - including his 2004 running mate, John Edwards - gallop past in pursuit of the Democratic presidential nomination that was his four years ago.
"Life goes on and people get too fixated on those kinds of things," Kerry, 63, told The Associated Press in an interview. "I feel young enough that there's a lot of future ahead. I don't know what will happen. I haven't said no to (running for president) forever, but it's the right thing for now."
Still, 2004 flares up every now and then.
He turned a sleepy confirmation hearing into a campaign flashback when, from his perch on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he subjected President Bush's nominee for ambassador to Belgium - Republican fundraiser Sam Fox - to a grilling about the "politics of personal destruction."
"I'm not trying to play some kind of 'gotcha' game here, I assure you," Kerry began.
But payback was in the air. Fox, a multimillionaire from Missouri, had donated $50,000 to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which took out ads in the 2004 race that assailed Kerry's Vietnam military record and helped sink his presidential hopes.
Such references to the past are diminishing.
"My guess is now, more than anything, he's trying to grapple with what comes next," said Dante Scala, a University of New Hampshire political science professor. "Inevitably, and it's already happening, the spotlight has left him."
Going from White House contender to just one of 100 senators is not quite as easy as Kerry makes it sound, McGovern recalled in a telephone interview.
"I felt a little strange around the Senate for a while," McGovern said. "It's almost as though you'd stepped out from the Senate and put yourself on the national stage for a year or so - and you're going to have to win the right to be back in the club."
Kerry hardly missed a beat after his 2004 loss to Bush, hoping to use his Senate seat as a springboard for another run. That plan fizzled with a botched Iraq joke during the close of the elections last fall. For many Democrats, his words revived bitter memories of his missteps in 2004, when he fell just 118,601 votes shy in Ohio of capturing the White House.
Kerry announced in January that he would not run again, briefly choking up during an emotional Senate floor speech. Since bowing out, Kerry has prodded Democrats to take a stronger anti-war stance, pushing for troop withdrawal deadlines. He has backed environmental causes.
"I feel like there's unfinished business and I'm not the type of person to walk away from a set of priorities that I've set," Kerry said. "People somehow think that all you have to do is gear up and run for president and that's the only reward. Look at Ted Kennedy, look at other senators. We are deeply engaged in writing major laws that impact our citizens."
Borrowing a page from Al Gore's playbook, Kerry began a 20-city tour to promote "This Moment on Earth," a book on environmental issues that he co-authored with his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry. He has kept his 3 million-name campaign e-mail list intact, and he recently raised about $100,000 for Democratic Senate hopefuls.
But Kerry stands on a smaller stage now. His speeches draw scant media coverage - which is both typical for ex-candidates and tough to swallow, McGovern says.
"It's a big letdown," McGovern says. "You just have to forget about being on page one of the newspapers or the lead item on the news every night. Those days are gone."
To rebound from his failed 1972 campaign, McGovern took on hunger as an issue when he returned to the Senate. That effort, he says, "was a savior for me."
Unlike Kerry and McGovern, most losing presidential nominees put electoral politics behind them.
Gore, who lost the 2000 election to Bush by a relative handful of votes, went into self-imposed exile from politics. He re-emerged as an even more vocal environmental advocate than when he was vice president, writing "An Inconvenient Truth," his book about global warming that became an Oscar-winning documentary built around his lectures on environmental stewardship.
Republican Bob Dole, who resigned his Senate seat to run for president in 1996, has pursued an array of interests since his loss, including a brief stint teaming with Bill Clinton for mini-debates on TV's "60 Minutes." He co-chairs a presidential commission on problems at military hospitals. And he's a Senate spouse: His wife, Elizabeth, is a Republican senator from North Carolina.
Another Massachusetts presidential nominee, Michael Dukakis, left the national stage after his 1988 loss to serve out his final two years as governor. He became a college professor.
"You're in a funny place," Barry Burden, a University of Wisconsin political science professor, said. "On the one hand, you failed at a pretty grand task. On the other hand, I think there's respect for someone who returns to their day job in the Senate and is willing to really buckle down and focus on the hard work of legislating."
There's speculation that Kerry, who will run for a fifth Senate term next year, could be tapped for a Cabinet post if a Democrat captures the White House.
Also, some wonder if he might explore the path carved by his Massachusetts colleague, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who returned to the Senate after losing his bid for the 1980 Democratic presidential nomination and became one of the chamber's leading legislators.
"I don't think John is quite that type," McGovern says. "That's not a criticism. He doesn't have the same instincts in terms of legislation that Ted does. Ted is a get-things-done guy. If there's a problem, then you introduce a bill."
Kerry served in Vietnam, you know.
Maybe Frenchy can console himself with a handful of gin-soaked raisins.
As the tanks run him over...
John Kerry is one serious A$$hole.
I love this sort of thread.
Lets rip him some more.
That is, when he even bothers to show up at all.
Maybe Kerry and Dukakis can run in ‘08 together. Yeah, that’s the ticket!
...and so do his hemerroids which are the size of banana, I'm told!
Served with high distinction, I hear.
Poor baby... (sniff)
Kerry was actually part of a parade, an Easter parade...
LOL. He also fell 3 million votes shy nationwide. He should never have come that close.
But his greatest contribution was his one-man war against the Khmer Rouge. Heck, most of us had never heard of them when he took them on.
Didnt he spend Christmas, or some such, in Cambodia back in the day? /s
Boo-hoo is right!