My Two Cents: Dems pessimistic worldview may doom presidential hopes

When it comes to politics, the Democrats are a real downer in my book. Of course, it’s a presidential election year, and some degree of criticism of the current occupant of the White House is to be expected. However, to hear presidential hopeful Sen. John Kerry and his supporters tell it, America is in terrible shape at home and abroad. Kerry and company are so pessimistic they make me – hardly a card-carrying optimist – look like Leo Buscaglia.

On virtually every major issue – from the economy to the war against radical Islamic terrorists – Kerry paints a picture of doom and gloom that is unrelenting in its negativity. Not unlike a lot of politicians, Kerry shades whatever he has to say to his advantage. Unfortunately for the senator from Massachusetts, he’s doing so in a way that makes him look as if he perpetually views the glass as half-empty.

For example, listening to Kerry speak about the economy on the campaign trail – with his mantra that 2.3 million jobs have been lost since President Bush took office and references to “Benedict Arnold companies” that outsource jobs – you’d think the country was in a major depression and on the verge of economic collapse. During a speech in December to the Council on Foreign Relations, Kerry said the Bush administration was running “the most arrogant, inept, reckless and ideological foreign policy in modern times.”

Kerry’s incessant bleakness is puzzling, considering that recent presidential elections have favored the more optimistic candidate. Ronald Reagan was a far more upbeat personality than either Jimmy Carter or Walter Mondale when he defeated them in 1980 and 1984, respectively. Bush the elder, while hardly a likable guy in mode of Reagan, looked pretty good compared to the dour Michael Dukakis, who was crushed in 1988. The affable Bill Clinton was a breath of fresh air in 1992 when he defeated former President Bush, whom the public liked but viewed as somewhat detached, and Ross Perot, whom the public regarded as a rich nutjob. Clinton, with all of his forward-looking talk of a “bridge to the 21st century,” easily beat back the challenge of the curmudgeonly Bob Dole in 1996. And of course, in 2000 an excited Bush squeaked by a robotic Al Gore.

Personally, I hope Kerry keeps talking about how bad he thinks things are, so that Bush wins this November, which would be good news from my point of view.

“My Two Cents” is a weekly column where the author gets in his two cents worth in spite of the old saying that states you only get a penny for your thoughts.