A perspective on Kerry from a British collumist

Discussion in 'Politics' started by MtnBiker, Mar 9, 2004.

  1. MtnBiker

    MtnBiker Senior Member

    Sep 28, 2003
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    Rocky Mountains


    Christopher Hitchens

    TO start with only a small observation that might gradually turn into a big one...

    I have never met anybody, nor seen anybody interviewed, nor received an email from anybody, nor read a letter to a newspaper from anybody who really woke up in the morning and thought: If John Kerry doesn't win, I just don't know what I shall do.

    Actually, one could phrase that last bit less passionately.

    If Kerry had not run, nobody would have begged or even asked him to do so.

    In the short run, this doesn't matter very much. People for whom he was the second or third choice, or no choice at all, will now get behind him as the designated candidate or nominee.

    The trouble is, most of these people will be Democrats.

    And the Democratic logo, on its own, is unlikely to elect anybody as the next President of the United States.

    The Bush team was naturally hoping to run against Howard Dean, which would have been almost too easy.

    The one Bush's electoral guru, Karl Rove, feared was John Edwards because of his appeal to the centre and the South.

    The one they couldn't believe the Democrats would pick was John Kerry because the Republican Party is a machine designed to beat prosperous liberals from Massachusetts.

    Grover Norquist, the most intelligent and humorous of the Republican strategists, stated this almost as an axiom.

    Take a Senator from New England with a Teddy Kennedy voting record, he said, and more than half the electorate has decided to reject him already. The rest is gravy.

    COULD this possibly be too simple an account?

    We are about to find out, because the Democrats chose a front-loaded primary system which gives huge advantages to a designated "front runner", and which then allows several months for that lucky person to hog the spotlight.

    If you slightly stifled a yawn when you first saw Kerry give a speech, get ready to be comatose by November.

    Kerry's big disadvantages are these. He gives the impression that it's his turn and that he's entitled to be the nominee, if not indeed the incumbent.

    He is thus the Establishment candidate even in liberal terms. He has been in the Senate long enough to be a fixture, and also long enough to have made many compromises and deals that may come back to haunt him.

    Yet he has to present himself as a spokesman for "change". This double-act will not be an easy one.

    Select just one recent example: Kerry has made a huge point of denouncing American corporations that shelter their profits by basing themselves offshore. He has even given such scoundrels a memorable name, calling them "Benedict Arnolds" and thus tarring and feathering them with the name of a famous traitor to the American revolution - one of the few names that every schoolchild still knows.

    Yet a simple investigation of his finances shows that he accepts vast campaign contributions from just these Quislings.

    And the Republicans have months in which to make this little-known fact as well known as the name of Benedict Arnold. George W Bush is very vulnerable as a candidate, in my opinion, because so many Americans can't stand the sight or sound of him and because he can be presented as a dull child of dynastic privilege, as well as a man who can't make an honest case for a war.

    However, Kerry is richer than Bush and has a wife who is even richer than that.

    And he can't make up his mind about the Vietnam war, let alone the Iraq one. Voters may not want a simplistic Commander-in-Chief, but even less do they want an indecisive and dithering one.

    It's a mistake to think that war veterans have any great natural advantage. George Bush didn't have that much trouble defeating John McCain last time, and McCain had charm as well as a record of courage.

    KERRY has the look of a dog being washed when warfare comes up as a subject, and he also looks pained and embarrassed at other "hot button" issues, such as gay marriage or tax cuts.

    Anything he might say can be countered with things he's already said, or things he's said and then changed his mind about. He's already spent a lot of time trying to justify or explain past positions, and he'll now be on the defensive round the clock.

    ONE probably shouldn't mention the wife, but then what choice does one have?

    Mrs Kerry's first big interview, a couple of years ago, made it seem as if her late husband - Senator Heinz of Pennsylvania, the Republican ketchup king - was still number one in her heart. Sweet, of course, in its way, but slightly unsettling. These days, with tongue untied by her control of a vast fortune, she pronounces on every subject from her spiritual beliefs to her fashion opinions.

    The Senator sometimes gives the impression he wishes she'd keep quiet. I might be wrong, but I don't think the voters are in any mood for any weirdness (at least not this year).

    Kerry has until the Convention to choose a running-mate and to dispel the idea that he was many people's unenthusiastic selection, and that he can't quite remember why he's running, or on what issue. Of course, it's good in some ways that he has such a deficit to make up.

    There are not many expectations that he can disappoint.


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