Skip to comments.Steyn; He was complacent, arrogant and humourless. How they loved him (Kerry)
Posted on 08/01/2004 2:09:51 PM PDT by chiller
It was interesting to see Ben Affleck emerge as the Hollywood mascot of the Democratic Convention. The week reminded me of Ben's movie Pearl Harbor: wall-to-wall evocative military imagery, a cast of thousands, superb production values, but a huge gaping hole where the star performance was supposed to be.
On TV the other night, young Mr Affleck offered a pearl of wisdom to Mr Kerry and his consultants: "You have to enervate the base," the Hollywood heartthrob advised solemnly. If it's enervating the base you're after, John F Kerry would seem to be the perfect candidate. On Thursday, for his first big moment in the national spotlight, his only concession to the occasion was to speed up his delivery, in order to cram a 90-minute address into the hour of primetime the networks were prepared to give him. But otherwise it was classic Kerry: verbose, shapeless, platitudinous, complacent, ill-disciplined, arrogant, and humourless.
On the other hand, despite Ben Affleck's advice, the Boston crowd wasn't in the least bit enervated. They were deliriously happy. The Kerry campaign seems to be the political equivalent of what they call on Broadway a "snob hit": the longer it is, the more boring it is and the worse time you have at it, the more you feel it must be good for you. To his numbed, buttock-shifting listeners, the great sonorous self-regarding orotund bromidic banality of Senator Kerry and his multitude of nuances is proof of how much more serious he - and therefore they - are. This is a profoundly un-American attitude and, from the so far bounce-less post-convention polls, it doesn't seem to be resonating with "swing voters".
At one level, what's happening is very unfair. Three-quarters of Democratic voters opposed the Iraq war; 86 per cent of convention delegates opposed it. But they've wound up with a presidential ticket comprised of two Senators who both voted in favour of it. And, after being for-and-against the war for the last year according to political necessity, Kerry seems to have settled on a position of doing pretty much what Bush is doing while simultaneously spending more time on the blower to Kofi, Jacques and Gerhard. If I were a principled anti-war Democrat, I'd be furious.
But they're not. Because the real distinction is not between pro- and anti-war, but between September 11 Americans and September 10 Americans. The latter group is a coalition embracing not just the hardcore Bush haters - for whom, as the opening of Fahrenheit 9/11 makes plain, it all goes back to chads in Florida - but the larger group of voters who've been a little stressed out by the epic nature of politics these last three years and would like a quieter life. That's what John Kerry's offering them: a return to September 10.
He doesn't quite put it like that, of course. He talks about an America "strong" and "respected" and all the other poll-tested words, while the Democratic platform asserts that Republicans "do not understand that real leadership means standing by your principles and rallying others to join you".
Say what you like about Bush, but on Iraq he stood by his principles and rallied the British, Australians, Poles, Italians, etc, to join him. He also rallied Kerry and Edwards to join him. They voted for his war, as the columnist Debra Saunders of The San Francisco Chronical drolly pointed out: "Kerry and Edwards followed. Bush led."
Kerry now says that Bush "misled" him on Iraq. But, if he was that easily suckered by a renowned moron, how much more susceptible would he be to such wily operators as Chirac. They would speak French to each other, and Jacques would blow soothingly in his ear, and Kerry would look flattered, and there'd be lots of resolutions and joint declarations, and nothing would happen. We'd be fighting the war on terror through the self-admiring inertia of windbag multilateralism.
As for the home front, Kerry says: "As President, I will not evade or equivocate; I will immediately implement the recommendations of that [the 9/11] commission." Whoa, hold on there. There's a ton of recommendations, and some of us don't like the part about concentrating all US intelligence under one cabinet secretary who serves not at the President's pleasure but for a fixed term. That effectively institutionalises the groupthink resistance to alternative ideas that led to the 9/11 failures. Leadership is about hearing different viewpoints and reaching a judgment. But Kerry gives the impression that, as long as he enjoys the perks of the top job, he's happy to subcontract his judgment to others.
He moans endlessly about the "outsourcing" of American jobs but, when it comes to his own job, he's willing to outsource American foreign policy to the mushy transnational talk-shops and to outsource homeland security to some dubious intelligence tsar. There's no sense of any strategic vision, no sense that he's thought about Iran or North Korea or any of the other powder kegs about to blow. I tried to ask him about some of these matters during the New Hampshire primary and he intoned in response, "Sometimes truly courageous leadership means having the courage not to show any leadership." (I quote from memory.)
In another perilous time - 1918 - Lord Haig wrote of Lord Derby: "D is a very weak-minded fellow I am afraid and, like the feather pillow, bears the marks of the last person who has sat on him." It's subtler than that with Kerry: you don't have to sit on him; just the slightest political breeze, and his pillow billows in the appropriate direction. His default position is the conventional wisdom of the Massachusetts Left: on foreign policy, foreigners know best; on trade, the labour unions know best; on government, bureaucrats know best; on defence, graying ponytailed nuclear-freeze reflex anti-militarists know best; on the wine list, he knows best.
Sometimes these default positions have to be recalibrated to take account of various political pressures - hence his current kinky Vietnam macho nostalgia, after two decades of voting against every important weapons system for the US military. But there's no sense - other than the blurry abstract nouns he shoveled off the stage on Thursday - of what Kerry stands firm on.
Last year, I was at a Kerry campaign stop in New Hampshire chatting with two old coots in plaid. The Senator approached and stopped in front of us. The etiquette in primary season is that the candidate defers to the cranky Granite Stater's churlish indifference to status and initiates the conversation: "Hi, I'm John Kerry. Good to see ya. Cold enough for ya?" Etc. But Kerry just stood there nose to nose, staring at us with a semi-glare on his face. After an eternity, an aide stepped out from behind him and said, "The Senator needs you to move."
"Well, why couldn't he have said that?" muttered one of the old coots, as Kerry swept past us.
That's how I felt after the Convention: all week Senators Biden, Lieberman and Edwards made the case that the Democrats were credible on national security. Why couldn't Kerry have said that?
Because in the end he's running for President because he feels he ought to be President. That's his message to George W Bush: "The Senator needs you to move." And even then everyone else says it better.
Pretty sound, and effective advice as we learn today with the negative bounce polls.
Somehow I don't think Afflect could gauge how stupid, yet prophetic he would become.
I think I figured out what the opening scene if Kerry's speech was about -- last week Meryl Streep said he needed to act better while making the speech to reach the American Public. He must have been watching Patton to get a few lessons and decided to copy George C Scott in Patton with that Salute.
This buttock-shifting ol' freeper thinks it be a great essay.
Steyn is a classic!
I think the "The Senator needs you to move" line anecdote best sums up Kerry.
We really need a president who takes advice from ben aflac
According to Hillary, the Dems are going to take things away from me... and now the Senator needs me to move, too??
Apparently, we are all in his way...
The comedian Norm Crosby, King of the Malaprop, used to stay up all night thinking these bloopers up. But an idiot like Affleck just burps them up effortlessly. There's no justice, I tell you.
He doesn't need to. Molly Ivens and the rest of the Bush bashers in the liberal media will never pen one word about pea-brain Affleck's less than stellar command of the English language.
You said a fouth mull thite rere.
This must be why he's sticking so close to Edwards........apparently he says it better. Blecccch!
Speaking advice from Affleck.
Dressing advice from Naomi Wolfe.
Campaign advice from Donna Brazile.
Foreign policy advice from Barbra Streisand.
Child welfare advice from Jocelyn Elders.
Ethics advice from Bruce Lindsey.
Gives a whole new meaning to "line-up" -- or does it?
"Don't believe any false rumors unless you hear them from me."--Victor Schiro, late mayor of New Orleans
"Gentlemen, get the thing straight once and for all...the policeman isn't there to create disorder, the policeman is there to preserve disorder."--Richard J. Daley, late mayor of Chicago
"Senator, you have to enervate the base."--Ben Affleck
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