Every time Kerry campaigned on his Vietnam past, and every time he responded to charges about what he did or didn't do three decades ago, undecided voters were reminded of an undecided man. The power of the "Swift Boat" non-issue was not to plant doubts about whether Kerry deserved his medals. It was to remind voters to wonder how decisive he would be in running the country in time of war.
Kerry is likely to join scores of history's other presidential wannabes who failed to cleanse themselves of their congressional-ness before seeking the White House.
Recall that Bob Dole tried to do it on the cheap in 1996, by resigning his Senate seat just five months before the general election.
Republican strategists took the man out of the Senate. But they couldn't take the Senate out of the man.
Director of the Washington Center for Politics & Journalism and its semester-in-Washington program for college journalists the past 16 years, Terry Michael is a former Democratic National Committee, congressional and presidential campaign press secretary.
This work is the opinion of the author and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.