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Review: "Shrum's Book Explains Much-But Not the Kerry Loss" (NY Observer)

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KoKo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-04-07 01:05 PM
Original message
Review: "Shrum's Book Explains Much-But Not the Kerry Loss" (NY Observer)
Edited on Mon Jun-04-07 01:20 PM by KoKo01
(Interesting read from this person's view on both Gore and Kerry Campaigns run by Shrum. Sadly the issue of voter suppression by Touch Screen Machines and Caging is not discussed but there are some interesting comments about how Shrum defends himself)
------------------------

Shrum's Book Explains MuchBut Not the Kerry Loss
by Steve Kornacki Published: May 28, 2007

Photo: Getty Images

On the campaign bus in Manchester, N.H. in January 2004: John Kerry with press secretary David Wade and advisor Bob Shrum.

For the record, it isnt until the fourth page of the introduction to his new memoir, No Excuses, that Robert Shrum begins making excuses.

On the subject of the Shrum Cursea reference to his zero-for-eight record in White House conteststhe now-retired consultant pleads that the first seven strikes against him dont really count.

He was, he reminds us, a mere speechwriter for George McGovern in 1972 and for Ted Kennedy in 1980, and anyway extenuating circumstancesNixon dirty tricks in McGoverns case and the Iran hostage crisis for Mr. Kennedykilled those campaigns, not Mr. Shrum. Then there was 1988, when he only guided a practically unknown Dick Gephardt to an upset win in the Iowa Caucuses before the laws of nature wiped him out, and 1992, when he parachuted in five weeks before the New Hampshire primary for a political rescue mission for the nonetheless doomed Bob Kerrey. And shouldnt he get credit for, like, half-a-win in 2000, when I played a big hand in the election of Al Gore as presidentthen watched his win be stolen away?

Not that Mr. Shrum wont man-up when its called for. Then, of course, I lost the White House for John Kerry. Ill take my share of the blame, he concedes, although this mea culpa, too, is followed by an excuse: I also know that voters out there were swayed by the memories and manipulation of 9/11 and the last-weekend Osama bin Laden tape.

None of this will help his image among his partys loudest activists.

Mr. Shrum, who now teaches at New York University, has in the last two years become one of the favorite punching bags of frustrated Democrats. And reading his litany of accurate but self-serving explanations early on in the books (non-index) 494 pages, one can almost hear the seething contempt of the liberal netroots, among whom he is regarded as the preeminent symbol of the D.C. cocktail-party class of corporatized Democratic consultants who myopically equip their candidates with tired slogans, rehashed rhetoric and neutered messages: Of course the election was stolen from Gore in 2000. But he was only in position to have it stolen from him because of the lousy campaign he--and you!--ran! And any fool could have predicted that George W. Bush would exploit 9/11 in 04. But why were you so afraid to rough him up at your convention, when the G.O.P. all but called Mr. Kerry a traitor at theirs?

Mostly, he hasnt punched backincluding last year upon the release of Joe Kleins Politics Lost, which often read as little more than a grudge-fueled ad hominem attack on Mr. Shrum. His response is overdue and No Excusesamong the more honest and readable books in the political memoir genre (if thats saying anything)reminds us that Mr. Shrum, like most people, is worthy of a legacy beyond his most public shortcomings.

He is, for instance, quite justified in protesting the zero-for-eight tag, which amounts to a misleadingbut damningly succinctcheap-shot which his critics invoke with simpering delight. After all, anyone in Democratic politics whos been involved in any presidential campaign besides Bill Clintons or Jimmy Carters has done nothing but lose for the past 40 years.

more at..........

http://www.observer.com/2007/shrums-book-explains-much-...
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ProSense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-04-07 01:33 PM
Response to Original message
1. "His response is overdue and No Excusesamong the more honest and readable books "
Really?

This book remind us why idiot pundits and the MSM shouldn't be trusted. Shrum is a loser!
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blm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-04-07 01:54 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Shrum is a good SPEECHWRITER - that's about it. However, he'd be involved with two winning
campaigns if the DNC had done ITS job and secured the election process and countered the vote stealing tactics of the RNC machine in the days, months and years BEFORE Gore and Kerry ran.
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-04-07 03:08 PM
Response to Original message
3. What is interesting is reading all the analyses of why
Kerry lost. The main thing you notice is that they are all based on the biases of those who are writing them. This makes them all different. As they note at the end, anything can be blamed when it is this close.

The other thing he does is point to Bush being at 50%. He was actually nearer 60% through the end of 2003. In January 2003, Dean polled 20 points lower, generic Democrat was closer, but still down double digits. It was Kerry and the other Democrats getting some airtime in the primaries that moved Bush down.

I worried in fall 2004, when people reassured themselves with that number that hovered about 50%. It bothered me that the Democratic sites often took only the best polls. I looked back over the last 3 or 4 decades, and there had been no Presidential race with the candidates that close to 50%. The next lowest was near 40%, GHWB was at 33%. What I saw was there was no data in the 45 - 50% range. The "decision rule" was arbitrary, because 50% seemed to make sense.

However, it ignores that some people would like neither and would vote for the one they like more. Consider that a POat Buchanan, isolationist, libertarian would say they do not approve of Bush, but who would they vote for? We know that Buchanan said he voted for Bush. This was not 1992, where the incompent was so low it should have been an easy win.

I think that the 9/11, Terror ratings, Breslin etc made people to afraid to change - I also think no one other than Kerry would have made it close.
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Cameron27 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-05-07 09:25 PM
Response to Reply #3
10. Here's an update from
Edited on Tue Jun-05-07 09:26 PM by seasonedblue
Shrum himself. Unfortunately it's Fox transcripts (I didn't see the show).

He's seems to genuinely admire Kerry:

COLMES: Why was there not a faster response in the Kerry camp to the swift vote attacks?

SHRUM: I think we well, first of all, I think we made a mistake. And I take a lot of responsibility for the mistake, because I had real influence with Senator Kerry.

The polling the first week, basically said it was having no impact. Our pollster kept telling us that. And we actually gained 2 points nationally in the tracking. And held a lead of about 6 to 7 points in the battleground states.

And that wouldn't have mattered except we made a decision to take federal funding that decision to take federal funding meant we had the same campaign money for 13 weeks that George Bush had for eight weeks so. So in August we were going to be off the air. You know what we did? We paid attention to the polling.

We set a rule we are not going to go on the air in August and we held to that when everybody should have listened to John Kerry's first instinct, which is you have got to respond to this right away.

Snip: For all the criticisms of John Kerry, what I saw was someone who, in deep adversity, especially in the fall of 2003, stayed the course and went through a very long, lonely campaign, where no one gave him a chance. His back was against the wall, and he performed superbly.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,278115,00.html





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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-05-07 10:28 PM
Response to Reply #10
18. Thanks for posting
Those comments sound real and fair. In fairness, if I were asked the first week of August, I would have thought the same things - ALL the facts were on Kerry's side - there was no ambiguity in the records. (unlike Bush's - and we saw how fast CBS dropped Rather's well documented story)
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KoKo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-05-07 08:59 PM
Response to Original message
4. Kicking for those who misse this in "down time." n/t
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AtomicKitten Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-05-07 09:05 PM
Response to Original message
5. It's too bad the Kerry supporters don't look closer.
Edited on Tue Jun-05-07 09:24 PM by AtomicKitten
Shrum was on Faux News complimenting Kerry and took the rap for not answering the Swift Boat Liars quickly and efficiently. That's something that I'm quite frankly surprised some folks aren't picking up on.

It is Edwards he's dissing.

And, yes, Shrum is a bottom-feeder for putting out this book now, as are all the other people cashing in on this kind of "journalism." But having had a bird's eye view of the campaign, his opinion is, in fact, informed and certainly just as valid as any of the other so-called "journalists" whose work is considered gospel by some here.

It's all opinion. Just like I've been saying all along.

* Edited to change "people" to "supporters" because apparently and unbeknownst to me the word "people" is a horrible thing to say. :eyes:
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LittleClarkie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-05-07 09:16 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. Kerry "people"
as opposed to what? Some other life form?
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AtomicKitten Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-05-07 09:18 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. no, but thanks for trying to make even that contentious
Edited on Tue Jun-05-07 09:42 PM by AtomicKitten
I'm saying it should be of particular interest to those here at DU that have shown an yielding support for Kerry. This apology and admission by Shrum lets Kerry off the hook pretty much.

I didn't realize the word "people" was so controversial. Yikes.
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LittleClarkie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-05-07 09:43 PM
Response to Reply #7
12. Just confused about the quote marks
Kind of like the air quotes people will make with their fingers. Just wondering why saying Kerry people needed quote marks.
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venable Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-05-07 09:18 PM
Response to Reply #5
8. Shrum knew as well as anyone that Edwards wanted to go after the swiftboaters
Edited on Tue Jun-05-07 09:20 PM by venable
and I suspect even Kerry wanted to, or wanted Edwards to (in the job description of VP candidate), but from the way I understand it, Mary Beth Cahill stood in the way.

Where Shrummy was on this, I don't know, but he didn't make sure that Cahill let the canidates take care of business.

You know, he is defending himself, and he just can't. He is of that ridiculously high-paid coterie of consultants that have let the republicans dominate electoral politics with lesser candidates and lousy policy.

Shame on you, Shrum, now and forever.

A pox on your book and what you have done to the Democratic Party. May we soon recover from you.

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AtomicKitten Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-05-07 09:21 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. Shrum SAID Kerry wanted to go after the Swift Boat Liars.
Again, that would be something I would think the Kerry supporters here would be glad to hear.

But, please, continue to rage on knee-jerk blindly. This cult of personality crap at DU is really tiresome. Too much attitude and too little critical analysis. Some people are so hamstrung by their own hate they can't even discern a good thing when they hear or read it.
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Cameron27 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-05-07 09:32 PM
Response to Reply #9
11. I posted the transcript,
and Shrum seems to be taking the brunt of the blame for that.
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AtomicKitten Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-06-07 12:24 AM
Response to Reply #11
27. thank you
It was extraordinary admission by Shrum.
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LittleClarkie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-06-07 12:34 AM
Response to Reply #27
29. I take it you rather like the fellow?
I suppose everyone should have someone in their corner.
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AtomicKitten Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-06-07 12:36 AM
Response to Reply #29
31. What was your first clue? When I called him a "bottom-feeder?"
You really are a piece of work.
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Clark2008 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-05-07 09:50 PM
Response to Reply #9
13. Maybe I shouldn't say this, but I'm hormonal...
AK, maybe we should remind certain people that frequent these boards that, yes, their candidate's shit stinks.

I know my own potential candidate would admit that his did and so would yours. :rofl:

Three more days until baby, btw! :loveya:
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AtomicKitten Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-06-07 12:28 AM
Response to Reply #13
28. I was simply relaying something that raised my eyebrows.
Edited on Wed Jun-06-07 12:42 AM by AtomicKitten
I was quite taken aback by this admission by Shrum, the clarity of which was pretty breathtaking. It's unfortunate if people are too caught up with their torches and pitchforks thing to pay attention to this tidbit because IMO it was an amazing and not often heard in politics admission.

Nobody is arguing that Shrum isn't a lowlife for putting this book out now; he most definitely is.

June 8th? My baby will be 21 on June 11th. June is a good month for birthin' babies. An early congratulations to you, mom, and hoping it all goes smoothly.
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LittleClarkie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-05-07 09:54 PM
Response to Reply #9
14. Errr
I don't think the person you're responding to is one of the typical Kerry folks. I wouldn't assume, anyway.
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venable Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-05-07 09:58 PM
Response to Reply #9
15. Shrum said that because of the controversy about Edwards camp saying he wanted
to go after the swift boaters.

I'm not raging, nor am I blind. I despise Shrum, with good cause. If you don't approve, you don't.

And what in the world does this have to do with a cult of personality?

I don't think Edwards is god, nor do I think Kerry is anything but a good man. Shrum hates Edwards for firing him. I dislike his crappy revenge.
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LittleClarkie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-05-07 10:07 PM
Response to Reply #15
16. She's mistaken you for a Kerry supporter
Edited on Tue Jun-05-07 10:11 PM by LittleClarkie
As for me, even as a Kerry supporter, I don't feel like believing Shrum re: Edwards either, or about much else.
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Clark2008 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-05-07 10:13 PM
Response to Reply #16
17. No - she knows Veneble is an Edwards supporter.
Oh - and I don't feel like believing Shrum nor Edwards either.

:hi:
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venable Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-05-07 10:33 PM
Response to Reply #16
19. oh, I see
Certainly I agree with you about Shrum. While I can't stand that he is turning so awfully on Edwards, I'm glad he is giving Kerry the respect he deserves.

I have to say that as time goes on, Kerry's fundamental decency as a person seems more and more important.

I would love to see Kerry and Edwards show, somehow, that the stories about their rift are not true. (I hope and believe they are NOT true).
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LittleClarkie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-05-07 10:42 PM
Response to Reply #19
20. Me too
I still remember the wonderful speech Edwards gave as he left the Senate, and you could here the warmth in his voice as he spoke about Kerry at one point. This was after the loss, and he certainly didn't have to mention Kerry at all.

So I too hope the news of a rift is false.
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-05-07 11:10 PM
Response to Reply #8
23. The Boston Globe had "K/E" people saying that
Edwards did NOT want to take that role - it could be that Shrum was the anonymous person who said that. I did hear Kerry's firefighter speech after someone on the Kerry blog posted a link to it. It was very strong. I never heard Edwards on that. Where I was more surprised was that when Edwards was in South Pennsylvania and in WV, the Southern Baptist Edwards did not directly go after the idiotic RNC add that Kerry/Edwards would take their Bibles away. His background as a Southern Baptist and as an emotional eloquent trial lawyer should have made that a dramatic moment. He could have pointed out that 2 couples on the ticket regularly go to church.

(Though in hindsight, Kerry should have gone to WV and told them, he was challanging Bush to a debate on the Bible, which he read and wouldn't take away. - Between St Paul's and the Jesuit Boston College and his interest, Kerry would have outclassed him if Bush was silly enough to agree.)
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-05-07 10:52 PM
Response to Reply #5
22. I just responded that this was good to see and fair
Edited on Tue Jun-05-07 10:57 PM by karynnj
on this to the poster - I didn't have Fox on. On MTP and Washington Journal he was positive on Kerry as well. It does come through that he admires Kerry's character, statesmanship and intelligence.

My biggest problem is that he is clearly violating confidences. I suspect in some cases, he is likely putting his words in their mouths. For example, if he asked Kerry if anyone other than Edwards may have led to a different result, Kerry might have played with the hypothesis. As such, he is second guessing his own choice - which he likely did on many things. What Kerry has clearly not done is to publicly say one word against the Edwards. Both he and Teresa have been very positive when speaking of either, though that can not be said of the Edwards towards the Kerrys. He also seems to take observations and connect them in ways that might assume connections that aren't true. The other thing is that there are Shrum's biases - he was wrong that even in 2004 health, education etc were the right issues. This does make him a liar - I just think he was wrong.

Edwards seems to have come out far worse from Shrum's comments. The Edwards people have thus been far more upset, which is understandable. I have not even seen the book, much less read it - so I can only speak of the interviews. Shrum in interviews almost speaks of 2 Edwards - a superstar, then he tells a story that he has to know reflects badly. He is clearly conflicted on Edwards.

So, even though he is nicer to Kerry than McAulife, Carville etc, my problem with him is that Shrum is obviously egocentric, which may lead him to be a poor listener - as he is already thinking of the next thing he will say - never really completely getting the people he is with. I also really think that someone that close should be more willing to keep things private. Politicians have to filter everything they say with the public, they should have some zone where what they say can be private.
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KoKo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-05-07 11:23 PM
Response to Reply #22
24. Agree with what you say....although I've not read his book...have seen him on Hardball
many times. He seems more an Operative that a shrewd judge of those he's OP'ing for. And without knowing his candidates he works for ...he's been ineffective in most cases and to write a book where he seems to do "heresay" or what "he interprets" what they are saying just to make a buck makes his views even more suspect.

I did think this reviewer was "fair" in some ways...but with Shrum...it might just be "gossip" without the full picture. Anyway...I posted for the read.
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AtomicKitten Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-06-07 12:22 AM
Response to Reply #22
26. regardless of all the rest
(and there is always so much of "the rest" here at DU), it was an extraordinary thing to hear and I, again, am surprised at the nonresponse it is getting by most here, and this speaks to the cult of personality thing where people here at DU react out of emotion and prejudge everything that leads to this sort of thing being missed; if people can manage to tidy up their emotions, this admission by Shrum mitigates what transpired during the election and really lets Kerry off the hook. Again, like I already said, Shrum is a bottom-feeder for putting this book out; I'm not big on fellow Democrats hamstringing presidential candidates. But I think Kerry would be correct in feeling some bit of vindication and draw a sigh of relief at this admission.
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-06-07 07:40 AM
Response to Reply #26
33. I agree with what you are saying
Edited on Wed Jun-06-07 07:41 AM by karynnj
but I think that what he is saying is very close to what all the Kerry "people" have been saying for over 2 years. It doesn't let Kerry 100% off the hook - he was, of course, the candidate, and would have been able to overrule Shrum. I'm also not convinced anything would have led to a different result.

Kerry, himself, has explained the dilemma of having to conserve money in August. The decision had already been made on taking public financing. It's also not possible to know what would have happened had they gone a different route.

What everyone fails to point out is the that the question of spending money on ads to fight these lies would have been compensating for a biased media. I can not think of ANY previous use of ads to counter attack ads. Here, because the official record was 100% behind Kerry responding by getting truth to the media - which they did in abundance - should have worked and the ads should have backfired. This was a media that uncritically showed Republican delegates wearing purple heart bandaids.

Kerry ads fighting it would have been taken as partisan. Consider that even recently the AP, in its articles on Fox becoming the ambassador to Belguim, referred to the SBVT as a group that "questioned" Kerry's service, rather than "distorted" or "lied about". The AP story forms the basis of news stories in many papers and they are still not telling the truth. Now they are protecting themselves as much as Bush, at Kerry's expense and they know it.

It sickens me that cost of running for President for Kerry has been the continued unjustied destruction of his reputation. The lies didn't stop with just his service, but extended to his character and his contibutions over decades to the country. One of the reasons I found DU was that in the wake of the loss this bothered my enormously - almost as much as the loss itself. It is despicable that a man, who has lived the life of integrity and accomplishment that Kerry has should be subject to this even after a narrow loss, due to media bias, voter suppression, and fraud. In a fair world, he would now be President.

This takes nothing away from anyone else. I have not found anyone in 2008 that I believe in to the extent I believe in Kerry. This for me is likely to remain the most painful loss ever because of all the hope lost. What I still don't know is whether the media would have worked as hard to destroy any Democrat. Any success the SBVT had was because the media validated them.
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LittleClarkie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-06-07 12:20 AM
Response to Reply #5
25. Eh, fuck it
Edited on Wed Jun-06-07 12:32 AM by LittleClarkie
not worth it.
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AtomicKitten Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-06-07 12:35 AM
Response to Reply #25
30. no - I don't agree
Edited on Wed Jun-06-07 01:34 AM by AtomicKitten
... but I changed it immediately because of the misunderstanding on your part. I don't think that the word "people" nor quotes around words (referencing that people have "people" and nothing more) is worthy of the little hissyfit you had above (and deleted). I changed it to prevent you from high-jacking a point I was making based entirely on an imagined slight and a problem you have against me personally.

You scrutinize everything I post, going over it with a fine tooth comb, to find something, anything to twist and take offense at. How exhausting that must be for you. And unfortunate. I actually gave you a gift by pointing out something that is a plus for Kerry and you are too wrapped up in hate to see it.

* edited to comment on the fact that you deleted the post I am responding to.
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LittleClarkie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-06-07 12:52 AM
Response to Reply #30
32. Hissyfit? Nah
Edited on Wed Jun-06-07 12:57 AM by LittleClarkie
Just questioning it.

It was a rather small comment. As a proofreader such thing jump out at me. Quotes change things to have an ironic connotation.

As for hate, again, nah.

But the dramatics do get bit wearing.
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zulchzulu Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-05-07 10:49 PM
Response to Original message
21. You can find the answer to Kerry's "loss" in Woodward's "State Of Denial"
Read from page 343-346 and see the reason why Kerry didn't "win" Ohio, hence the election. It involves the people below...





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