The Moose asserts that the patriotism and national security are powerful value issues.
Since the Vietnam war, one of the most significant factors in the culture war has been the battle over faith in country as much as faith in religion. It is not an accident that the proliferation of flags on lapels was first initiated during the Nixon days.
It also explains why Republicans attacked Kerry so viciously with the swift boat slime and suggesting that he was vaguely "French". The GOP understood that Kerry's opportunity in inoculating himself on the cultural front was his heroism in Vietnam. If Kerry captured the flag, the GOP could not effectively exploit this wedge issue. That is why the Republicans so relentlessly fought the second Vietnam war. Bush, Cheney and Rove might have avoided the first one, but they were virtual members of SEAL Team One in this engagement.
The donkey must realize that merely putting the flag logo on their buttons and stickers or even running a war hero will not be sufficient in this cultural war over patriotism. Americans must be convinced that Democrats will be as relentless and ruthless as Republicans in defending the nation against our enemies. Defense of country is directly related to the safety value. Nothing ultimately hurt Kerry, who is a genuine American hero, more than his perceived ambiguity on the war - "I voted for it before I voted against it."
Although it might have not gone down well with the Michael Moore crowd, Kerry could have gone to Bush's right on the war on terror by advocating more troops and removing terrorist sanctuaries in Iraq. Toward the end of the campaign, Kerry pointed to the failure to nail Osama at Tora Bora, but by then it was too late.
Remember, the first JFK went to Tricky Dick's right on national security in '60.Ultimately, Democrats will have to develop a comprehensive strategy in the war against terror. This war could last many years into the future and the donkey cannot be seen as a dove. Hawks usually, if not always, win our Presidential elections.
Yes, the Bushies have horribly mishandled Iraq. But, right now there is far more trust that the Republicans will destroy our enemies and protect America. When the Democrats responded to the Republican "wolves" ad with the "ostrich and eagle" ad it was not exactly clear that the donkey was the eagle.
In short, national security and the related cultural issue of patriotism, may be the most significant value issues in this past campaign. The donkey needs to soar like the eagle again, if not a hawk.