November 09, 2004

Sen. Kerry Can't Shut Up

One of the quaint little traditions we've had in the US has been that losing presidential candidates take a time out and sit down, letting the winner have his term without getting his elbow jogged by the losing candidate. Al Gore, Bob Dole, George HW Bush, Mike Dukakis, Fritz Mondale, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, even Ronald Reagan spent the next few years staying out of the limelight after their losing runs for the presidency. That's not going to happen this time around and, with all the triumphalism and circular firing squads running around nobody seems to have even noticed.

Come January, Sen. Kerry remains in the Senate, and his job description is to make speeches on the issues of the day and cast definitive yes or no votes on legislation. Even if he wanted to, he can't avoid violating this tradition of sit down and shut up at this point. So how will or should Republicans react? How should Democrats react as well?

Will Kerry become the leader of his party from the Senate? Who has more legitimacy, Pelosi (House Minority Leader), Reid (likely Senate Minority Leader) or Kerry (who is in the Senate and captured more votes than any Democrat candidate has in the history of the Republic)? Normally, the Senate Minority leadership would win out, it did for Daschle, but Pelosi's got more seniority in her house's top spot and could plausibly make a claim. The turd in the Democrat leadership punchbowl has got to be Kerry. He's got more legitimacy because he got more votes but he's not a leader and traditionally, you don't make your losing presidential candidate your party leader. Just ask Mike Dukakis about that.

On the Republican side, the traditionalists will eventually wake up and be offended. How offended should they be? We're in new ground here. It would be nice if the wise men of the political class would get off their butts and talk about this stuff. Maybe they have, so stick any links in comments (just hit the permalink) and eventually I'll update the article.

Posted by TMLutas at November 9, 2004 08:19 AM