Hugh Hewitt has a brilliant Weekly Standard piece called “The End of the Sixties.” Hugh contends that Kerry’s decision not to contest this election provides the “book-end” to Richard Nixon’s decision not to contest the 1960 election — a decision that ratifed the Kennedy election, and thus ushered in the “elevated style, new money, and a new elitism” that created the 60s.
When John Kerry played Nixon to Kennedy’s Bush, it brought the curtain down on this long-playing drama. Bill Clinton was the second, farcical Kennedy, and John Kerry was trying to be the third Kennedy–a serious, old European version of Camelot grown up. Vietnam was Kennedy’s adventure, and it framed the Kerry campaign, if not the election. Bush and red state America were talking about a nearly completely different set of issues and priorities, divorced from the dramas of the ’60s that still consume much of the left. Scratch one of Kerry’s angry supporters and you’ll find one of the old guard still organizing. What is MoveOn.org and the Michael Moore crowd but SDS grown up and using video cameras instead of bullhorns–gone gray and with bad knees, but still amusing the middle class with the rhetoric of rage against the backdrop of vast comfort?
Thus, we have the answer to the question I posed on Sunday — “the end of an era, or that era’s revenge?”. And, in the words of The Currency Lad, John Kerry has become the last man to die for the mistake that the 60s represents.
One caveat though. The 60s were, in significant measure, the product of the war in Vietnam. If the war in Iraq deteriorates along similar lines, the 60s may have their revenge after all. That is why Michael Moore and MoveOn.org are staking everything on the Iraq-Vietnam analogy. A majority of voters have staked much on President Bush’s ability to avoid a Vietnam-style result. Everything depends on this.