Thursday, November 2, 2006

Is Kerry obsolete yet?

Anything anyone makes says something about the person who made it, I said in the previous post. And that includes John Kerry's dreadful "stuck in Iraq" line. He said what he said, and it means something that he said it, whether it was what he originally meant to say or whether it was a slip up from something else. The mistakes you happen to make mean something, perhaps more than the stuff you plan out in advance or have composed for you. They way people take your statement and spin it says something about them. I, for example, have expressed my belief that Kerry meant what he originally said, and you ought to judge me for that.

We see something about Kerry in what he said after he heard how badly his original remark was received. His choice to go on the attack rather than to apologize strongly and clearly and his willingness to hog the public stage so close to the election say a lot about him. His "botched joke" explanation also means something, as does my own assertion that it was an outrageous lie. You can sharpen your thinking skills on all of that material -- though thinking about the actual candidates right now is probably a better use of your time.

Well, you can sharpen your thinking skills figuring out why your own attention is drawn to one thing and not another. When it's important to think about who should get your vote, why are you -- why are so many of us -- distracted by the Kerry story? Is it that we really want to get past next Tuesday and all these congressional races and talk about what really excites us, the next presidential election? Or is the fall of John Kerry an event of historic grandeur that commands us to stop and stare?

Let's see what Rich Lowry has to say:
Kerry embodies the old saw about the Bourbons, "They learned nothing and forgot nothing." He hasn't forgotten the Swift Boat attacks on him from 2004, but also has learned nothing of use from them - except the mistaken lesson that he should respond venomously to any and all criticisms.

Hence, his initial rant in response to the controversy, personally insulting Tony Snow ("a stuffed shirt") and Rush Limbaugh ("doughy") and lambasting his critics generally as "crazy" chicken-hawks.

Markos Moulitsas, the leader of the left-wing blogosphere from his perch at Daily Kos, pronounced himself much pleased: "Kerry responded perfectly."...
That's so wrong it's funny, but my judgment of Kos is that he was using his power to try to get people to think what he thought it would be useful to think. But, of course, he was wrong to think that.
Now, it is entirely plausible that Kerry was trying to make a joke about President Bush, for two reasons. One, typically of the humorless Kerry, it wouldn't have been funny. Two, typically of the arrogant Kerry, it would have reversed the usual convention, wherein politicians tell jokes at their own expense in their opening remarks. (Someone needs to take Kerry aside and tell him, "It's the hauteur, stupid.")

But Kerry's statement was also plausibly interpreted by people of good faith as a slam against the military. After all, he never mentioned the name Bush. And the fact that a lot of the Left believes exactly what Kerry seemed to be saying - that members of the military are cannon-fodder and boobs gulled into signing up because they have no other options in life.
Lowry's bottom line is a warning that the attitude Kerry "seemed to be" expressing really does represent the mainstream of the Democratic Party and that voters shouldn't fall for the moderate Democratic candidates because they are a device to leverage that Party into the majority. But what if you would like to see the Democratic Party renewed? I'd like to see a more moderate Democratic Party that is committed to national security. The only way for that to happen is if these attractive, new candidates win. They may have been put forward as a device to gain majority power, but once there, are they going to let themselves be treated as mere devices? Won't they hold great power from the center? Why wouldn't that work out quite well and hasten the obsolescence of guys like Kerry?

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