Centrists, as expected are whining away and wishing they could be Republican-lite in Adam Nagourney’s NYT article entitled Baffled in Loss, Democrats Seek Road Forward:
Gov. Janet Napolitano, Democrat of Arizona, which Mr. Kerry made a failed effort to grasp from the Republican column, said: “We need a fresh reassessment of how we communicate with people. How did a party that has been out of power in Washington, D.C., become tagged with the problems of Washington, D.C.? How did a party that is filled with people with values – and I am a person with values – get tagged as the party without values?”
And Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana said: “We need to be a party that stands for more than the sum of our resentments. In the heartland, where I am from, there are doubts. Too often we’re caricatured as a bicoastal cultural elite that is condescending at best and contemptuous at worst to the values that Americans hold in their daily lives.”
Mr. Kerry’s loss has, inevitably, created recriminations about a candidate that many Democrats had always viewed as stiff, and a campaign that was often criticized as slow-moving and unfocused. Democrats said that Mr. Kerry had failed to provide a compelling message, coasting on the belief that Mr. Bush would defeat himself, and that the campaign had been slow to respond to attacks on his war record by Vietnam veterans.
And some Democrats, especially centrist ones, expressed concern that liberals would draw a mistaken lesson from the loss: that the Democratic Party needed to swing back to the left to energize Democratic base voters to counter the upsurge of conservative base voters on the right.
“That’s not a recipe for winning,” said Gov. Mark Warner of Virginia, a Democrat frequently mentioned by party officials as a possible presidential contender in 2008. “That’s a recipe for disaster.”
Party officials said they were concerned about evidence of a cultural gap between Democrats and much of the country. Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico said that his dealings with Mr. Kerry and his advisers had vividly demonstrated to him the problems the party faces.
“I remember being on a trip with him in New Mexico: I put a cowboy hat on Senator Kerry and someone on his staff shuddered and asked me to stop,” he said. “This is I think an example of the East Coast not connecting with the West Coast and with the rest of the country.”