The John Kerry Effect

After the first 2012 presidential debate I tried to examine what went wrong that would cause one of the world’s foremost orators to fall flat in front of millions. Kerry was the coach, and Axelrod suggested to Obama that he “play it safe” – meaning, not show visible reaction to Romney’s outrageous false charges. The result was a loss which almost slayed his second term. The defeat rippled through progressive panicked hearts all over the country. I was one of them.

Realistically, Kerry alone was not at fault, nor the President’s closest advisers. The buck stopped at Barack. The decider determines what comes out of his mouth.

However, the cumulative effect of poor advice at a critical juncture such as the first debate cannot be underestimated. Old guard Dems, embodied in John Kerry, seemed to routinely suffer from “foot-in-mouth disease.” Their multi-syllabled wordy dialogue was perceived to not only pander and spread distasteful condescension over an unforgiving audience, but the focus appeared as a not-so-subtle attempt to CYA on every issue. “I voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it.”

The Syrian crisis arrives. John Kerry is now Secretary of State. But deep-down he still covets the highest office, Commander-in-Chief. He makes pronouncements only a President should be making. He undercuts Obama’s authority when proclaiming unequivocally the U.S. will take military action. Did Kerry speak before being cleared by his boss? Or did he talk out of turn?

The Syrian crisis is only a crisis because it was so mishandled. Republicans, for the most part, are secretly rejoicing. Some are exuberant, naturally, while the religious right sees prophetic fulfillment – a menacing Syria attacking Israel from the north unabated by a retreating super power. Obama seems crippled now from a self-inflicted wound. Sadly, Republicans can’t be blamed this time. And recovery from this weakened condition will take longer than the years he has left in office. He’s finished.

But Obama’s reverse “coat-tails” on the Democratic Party may spell the end of majorities in both houses next year.  Which means more than the average American imagines. Hillary Clinton’s 2016 run, to be sure, is as damaged as Obama’s legacy.

The Tea Party rules the GOP, not God. Hence, the Tea Party (fashioned after Germany’s Nazis) will gain power over the entire nation like it has in over two dozen states. More voter suppression, massive attacks on labor unions and workers’ rights, the death of the middle class, the complete surrender of the financial system to corporate contributors, and the revival of total militarism. Syria is bombed if Republicans gain control. But only when governing will they act. Meanwhile, they’d rather the nation suffer than agree with their adversary, Obama, on anything. He’s more hated by them than any foreign dictator, chiefly because his skin color doesn’t match theirs.

Germany’s 1933 is America’s 2014. That’s the year the weak progenies of the Weimar Republic succumbed to the Third Reich after feebly attempting to compromise its way into Germany’s favor. The nation craved a strong man who would speak eloquently without prevaricating, someone who would communicate forthrightly to the people – giving them a sense of direction and vision. And a national figure that looked like them, one with whom they could identify. As in 1933, 2014 America speaks loudly, “Enough of this demographic shit. I want my country back like it was in 1859.”

The Democratic Party bases its hopes on demographics while Republicans undermine the electoral system – giving them advantage over any emerging majority. They cheat and are proud of it. “If we can’t win, just change the rules.” The 2000 election was only a foretaste.

The Syria miscalculation is Obama’s third election, another major turning point, a stumbling block from which the injury is unrecoverable. Vladimir Putin is now seen by the world as savvier than Obama. How could the President not recognize that Republican resistance to his very presence would torpedo any and every proposal, valid or not? “Lame duck” takes on a whole new meaning.

Immigration, Postal Service Reform, and all other issues on the table seem to be lost. The Postal Service may go bankrupt soon; hundreds of thousands of its employees will go unpaid. Republicans are poised to destroy the nation’s economy and are pledged to defeat the debt-ceiling increase. Government shut-down seems more plausible and imminent after the Syria debacle. Did Obama’s administration consider the price of this major international blunder?

Who in the administration advised Obama to change course abruptly by going to Congress after his Secretary of State stated categorically the U.S. would strike Syria? Is there no Chief of Staff coordinating White House communications?

Obama’s most recent stumble solidifies the 2014 mid-term vote for the Tea Party. The John Kerry effect has taken a terrible toll. Democrats cannot compromise their way back to victory. The deed is done.