Whining won't give Democrats the White House

It’s been hard to avoid the sense the Democratic National Convention has largely been about the past.

That has mostly come from the grip that the Clinton family has held on the proceedings until Wednesday night when Barack Obama walked out on the stage and broke their spell.

But the backward-looking feeling has also come from the fact that so much of the discussion here has been about lingering grievances.

John Kerry’s remarks Wednesday sounded like they were coming from someone who was having trouble getting over old injuries.

For a guy who is a U.S. senator, rich in his own right, and married to an even richer woman, Kerry sounded like a victim when he was bleating about “swiftboating,” “McCain-Rove” and the like. It was off-putting.

Some of the shots at Republicans – by Joe Biden and Ted Strickland, especially – hit the mark. They tweaked the party in the White House without sounding like victims or haters.

But on a night that was supposed to be dedicated to the armed forces, Democrats spoke mostly about the failures of the Bush administration, some reaching back to his first term.

Americans were unhappy with Iraq not because we were there, but because we weren’t winning. Americans believe that the troops always would have won given the right plan and are happy to see them succeeding.

Bush-hate – the Keith Olbermann kind – hasn’t won Democrats anything. If they head into this election looking to punish George Bush, they’ll be giving John McCain a big advantage.

Democrats ought to listen to what Evan Bayh told them: Bush will be out of office in five months. And right now, Iraq is stabilizing, gas prices are dropping, and W has reached a point of lame duck irrelevancy in the minds of most Americans.

Here in Denver, the Democrats have assumed an air of fighting against grave injustice and wrongs. Hillary Clinton invoked Underground Railroad engineer Harriet Tubman’s advice for escaping slave owners in a context of beating Republicans in an election. A little much.

Rehashing the old injuries Democrats feel they have suffered will be a turnoff for swing voters.

cstirewalt@dcexaminer.com

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