Interesting point from 2004 presidential loser Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) on Meet the Press:
MR. RUSSERT: What was the biggest mistake you made, the most important lesson you learned from the presidential race?
SEN. KERRY: Tim, I can go down that road and we can spend a lot of time talking about it. I, I—let me just say this: I made some mistakes. I know what they are and I take responsibility for them. My campaign, I take responsibility. I think the most important thing would have been to spend more money, if we could have, on the, you know, advertising and responding to some of the attacks. But we…
MR. RUSSERT: The swift boat ads?
SEN. KERRY: Yeah, but we—people forget, we had a 13-week general election; they had an eight-week general election. We had the same pot of money. We had to harbor our resources in a different way, and we didn't have the same freedom. I think the biggest mistake was probably not going outside the federal financing so we could have controlled our own message.
So in the future, if you're running for president and your wife is a bazillionaire, you'll want to be more bold with your resources. Some of Kerry's claim still doesn't make sense: Wasn't it the job of other 527s like MoveOn, rather than of the campaign itself, to counter the negative campaigning of the Swift Boat Vets? And the issue of the scheduling of the conventions was more a stroke of genius by the Republicans than a mistake by the Democrats. It was the GOP that broke with tradition in moving its convention date way back, both to take advantage of the 9/11 anniversary and, as Kerry understands, to shorten the campaign cycle. Finally, there's the contrary evidence of opinion polls, wherein Kerry was actually closing the gap in September and October, which makes it harder to say that he was outgunned in the campaign advertising.
But I don't want to carp about a pretty encouraging development. In his roundabout, prolix way, Kerry is acknowledging the undemocratic constraints of campaign finance law. Usually such complaints come from obscure policy hermits and shut-out fourth-party candidates, but here it's coming from the presidential candidate of one of the two major parties. My hat, which has, lo, these many seasons become more firmly rooted about my ears, is lifted to John Kerry for mixing an important critique of campaign regulation in with his sour grapes. That having been said, I calculate the probability that he will vote his conscience on this matter when it's time to close the 527 "loophole" at precisely zero.