. . . Tuesday March 1, 2005

The Contender

Dining with the Duke: A three part reflection on a recent luncheon I attended with Michael Dukakis.

Part Three: The Contender

Do we abandon the second-place finishers too quickly? In this case, I’m not sure that I’m really thinking about Michael Dukakis (in some ways, I’m more surprised that he made it to the final dance in the first place), rather it’s more of a general question about the way Democratic candidates are groomed.

On one hand, you can understand why the Dems toss aside contenders that don’t make it to the Oval Office. Dems think their positions are right, they raised the money, they did the work. If the lead person doesn’t win, they’ve got to be thrown overboard.

But does it have to be that way?

In my other life as an angel investor, I often see just the opposite attitude. Generally, most venture capitalists love the idea of investing in a talented and charismatic leader who has experienced a failure. Those entrepreneurs often have the skills necessary for success, but they’ve also learned the lessons from being involved with a venture that didn’t make the cut.

Using this line of thinking, John Kerry would have to be the man in 2008. He almost won. He’s obviously a smart and talented guy. Anything bad about him is out there already. And he has experienced a narrow defeat. One assumes he has a few ideas about what worked and what didn’t.

I’m certainly not endorsing Kerry. But it is interesting that we see a narrow loss as an outrageous failure as opposed to a near win on which a canidate has four years to build.

Concentration is important!