There is no doubt in my mind that if Kerry had voted against the war he would have won by a clear margin. No war record could possibly make him look like a hero when he showed a failure of courage and resolve at that moment. Sometimes supporting a war can make you look weak.
I’ve been holding back on Kerry’s support of the war because of the campaign. I really do believe Kerry would be a better leader in time of war; but I’ve been meaning to say something for a long time, and that is that Kerry’s lack of courage at a critical moment made him look weak. The Bush campaign understood this. All their talk about Kerry’s “flip-flopping” and attacks by the Swift Boat Veterans “for Truth,” etc. all served to target his greatest weakness — that he knew the war was wrong but voted to support it anyway.
Kerry lacked the resolve to stand up to a president he knew was steering the country in the wrong direction. Kerry’s claim that he has always supported the war is an honest record of his record, but it is not an honest record of what we know he must have thought at the time. Either that or he is stupider than every one of the hundreds of millions of protesters who lined the streets of the world. Howard Dean was able to voice the anger of those opposed to the war, but he had not been in a position where he had to take a stand at the time. He remained untested. Kerry was tested, and failed. The Bush campaign understood this. The Kerry campaign was never able to overcome it. Trying to pass Kerry off as a “commander-in-chief” and a strong leader only highlighted his failure to show real courage when American needed a leader to stand up for what was right. Instead he chose to “play it safe.” Playing it safe may be exactly what we need right now, but it doesn’t make for an attractive campaign slogan.
Who knows, maybe he will still win Ohio (although I doubt it), but I’m glad I got that off my chest.