John Kerry, back at work in the Senate this week for the first time since Nov. 2, has $45 million yet unspent from his run for the presidency and suggested he may spend it on another race for the White House.
His own Democratic Party might balk at the prospect, but here is what even those who opposed him in 2004 should be grateful for — the fact that he worked so incredibly hard to give America an alternative this time around to the incumbent president.
The gratitude need not be based on his particular positions or be an endorsement of his biography, his character, his tactics, his voting record in the Senate or his motives for seeking the office. It should be based on the fact that our democratic system is absolutely dependent on accomplished, credible politicians subjecting themselves to exhausting, sometimes humiliating, potentially disappointing campaigns.
Those who have covered campaigns at virtually any level know how tough they can be — there are always the critics having at you, no matter what you say or where you stand; there is the need to be sharp every minute despite too little sleep and too much go, go, go; there is the possibility of being rejected by voters when all is said and done, even though you struggled to the point of having your heart almost burst.
Like him or not, Kerry is a pro. He is smart and no quitter. He gave everything he had. The possibility that he could still be president someday appears now to be somewhere between slim and none, but for the past two years, he fought the good fight and earned a place in the history books.
He should also have earned respect from those recognizing that our system would be in danger if such strong individuals were to desert the field.