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John Kerry’s rehabilitation
Did the 2004 Democratic nominee salvage his image?
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ill Clinton and Joe Biden were supposed to be the stars of Wednesday night’s Democratic convention, said John Nichols in The Nation, but, “go figure,” the best speech of the night was given by “the guy everyone was trying to forget,” 2004 nominee John Kerry. He “savaged” John McCain and gave Democrats their best “template” yet for the fall campaign. “Had Kerry been as aggressive as this in 2004, this week’s convention might well be nominating him for a second term.”

“Where was that guy in 2004?” said Amy Sullivan in Time’s Swampland blog. “Kerry was tough and direct tonight,” unlike in his 2004 speeches, and he had “an especially strong riff on ‘Senator McCain’ versus ‘Candidate McCain,’” plus some “rarely displayed” humor with his “Talk about being for it before you’re against it” line. The crowd loved it, probably much to their surprise.

Were we watching the same speech? said Jennifer Rubin in Commentary’s Contentions blog. That “bit about being for McCain before he was against him,” or whatever, was “a painful reminder of what a horrid candidate he was.” The “saving grace” for the Democrats is that “most of the network talking heads were talking about Bill’s speech and didn’t show Kerry.”

Not showing Kerry’s speech probably helped McCain, said Noam Scheiber in The New Republic’s The Stump blog. Kerry “came closest to what Democrats needed to achieve, which was to define John McCain,” especially “the miles-wide gulf between the 2002-era McCain and the McCain who’s running for president.”

Kerry's lack of graciousness toward McCain, said Jonah Goldberg in National Review's The Corner blog, was just a fresh example of why the man is "such a human toothache." His explanation of what constitutes patriotism was muddled, sanctimonious, and bitter, but at least it reminded us all "what an awful, awful president John Kerry would have been."

If Obama wins, said Peter Canellos in The Boston Globe, Kerry has got to be on his short list for another big job—secretary of state. Kerry’s vote on the Iraq war “probably cost him the presidency in 2004,” and “it’s hard to envision him saying no” if Obama asked to help end that war.

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