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The Architects of Defeat

This article, by Arianna Huffington, analyzing the failure of the Kerry campaign, resonates with me. It's the easiest kind of armchair quarterbacking there is, but I sure would have liked to see less caution from Sen. Kerry [via Dave Farber's IP list].

Twelve days before the election, James Carville stood in a Beverly Hills living room surrounded by two generations of Hollywood stars. After being introduced by Sen. John Kerry�s daughter, Alexandra, he told the room — confidently, almost cockily — that the election was in the bag.

"If we can�t win this damn election," the advisor to the Kerry campaign said, "with a Democratic Party more unified than ever before, with us having raised as much money as the Republicans, with 55% of the country believing we�re heading in the wrong direction, with our candidate having won all three debates, and with our side being more passionate about the outcome than theirs — if we can�t win this one, then we can�t win shit! And we need to completely rethink the Democratic Party."

Well, as it turns out, that�s exactly what should be done....

Vallely, together with Kerry�s brother, Cam, and David Thorne, the senator�s closest friend and former brother-in-law, created the "Truth and Trust Team." This informal group within the campaign pushed at every turn to aggressively take on President Bush�s greatest claim: his leadership on the war on terror.

"When Carville and Greenberg tell reporters that the campaign was missing a defining narrative," Thorne told me this week, "they forget that they were the ones insisting we had to keep beating the domestic-issues drum. So we never defended John's character and focused on his leadership with the same singularity of purpose that the Republicans put on George Bush's leadership. A fallout of this was that the campaign had no memorable ads. In a post-election survey, the only three ads remembered by voters were all Republican ads — and that was after we spent over $100 million on advertising."

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