quasi in rem

Thursday, February 26, 2004

New York Times endorses Kerry...um ..sort of

The New York Times has sort of endorsed John Kerry for the Democratic nomination. But to call this a backhand endorsement is a gross understatement. This is a 95 mile per hour two handed down the line Wimbledon winning Andre Agassi backhand endorsement. Onto the great stuff:
A Primary Endorsement

"The search for a Democratic presidential nominee has been defined by an Anyone-but-Bush sentiment, an obsession with choosing the man who will run the best campaign. But in the end, the party needs to pick the person who is most qualified to be president. That's why this page endorses Senator John Kerry in Tuesday's primary."

In other words, Kerry hasn't run a good campaign, we have no real idea what he's gonna do, and we don't really like him, but based on his resume, and the Heinz cash, he looks better to us.

"Senator John Edwards, Mr. Kerry's only serious competitor, has been terrific on the campaign trail. He has a great speech and enormous discipline, and he makes a direct and genuinely emotional connection with people of all backgrounds. It's easy to envision him as the nominee four or eight years down the line, or on the ticket for vice president this fall. But Mr. Edwards has spent only a few years in public life. When he departs from his stump speech and discusses domestic issues or — particularly — foreign affairs, his lack of experience shows."

We like John Edwards. He's a good guy and he runs a good campaign. And people who meet him like him. But we aren't going to pick him. Oh yeah, and none of that applies to John Kerry.

"It's true that Mr. Edwards has as much or more experience than George Bush did when he entered the White House in 2001. But that was a different era. Now Americans understand better that they live in perilous times, and they aren't likely to feel comfortable switching leaders this fall if the challenger seems to require a lot of on-the-job training. Mr. Bush himself was not well served by the thinness of his résumé when Sept. 11 occurred. "

Remember all that stuff we said in the first paragraph about not just picking the guy who we think has the best shot at beating Bush, well that was all a big lie.

"Mr. Kerry, one of the Senate's experts in foreign affairs, exudes maturity and depth. He can discuss virtually any issue of security or international affairs with authority. "

Kerry is so boring he must be saying something important.

'What his critics see as an inability to take strong, clear positions seems to us to reflect his appreciation that life is not simple. He understands the nuances and shades of gray in both foreign and domestic policy. "

This will work, Americans are reaaal comfortable with a nuanced position inthe wake of 9/11. And for all of those without their Times to English dictionary, nuanced means you, as amember of the public, are too stupid to understand Kerry, but trust us he is taking an actual position.

"While he still has trouble turning out snappy sound bites, we don't detect any difficulty in laying down a clear bottom line. His campaigning skills are perhaps not as strong as his intellectual ones, but they are pretty good and getting better. Early in the race he alienated some audiences with brittle, patronizing lectures. But he has improved tremendously over the last few months. His answers are focused and to the point, and his speeches far more compelling. "

This is a real solid endorsement. Once again they emphasize that it is the listeners stupidity and not Kerry's inability to get his ever changing point across. And I love the "we don't detect any difficulty part." New York times I think your bottom line detectors have been permanently set to nuanced. Move that over a couple of notches to "actual position" and get back to us.

"If Mr. Kerry wins the nomination, the Bush administration will undoubtedly attempt to paint Mr. Kerry as a typical Massachusetts liberal, but his thinking defies such easy categorization. His positions come from mainstream American thought, centrism of the old school."

Ahh the Ivory Towers of East Coast! The old school. This is also a capitulation to the thought that Kerry is not a "new Democrat" ala Clinton. He is an old Democrat in the mold of Johnson. The centrism the Times is discussing is that Kerry is halfway between Mao on the left and Joe Lieberman on the right.

"He has always worried over budget deficits"

Worried? Is that what we are looking for in a leader? A sense of worry? How about, he has always voted against budget that lead to deficit? At least that would differentiate him from Bush. I am sure Bush is worried about the deficit too. Of course he still spends like a hacker with a stolen credit card, but he is worried.

"His record on the environment is extremely strong."

That means extremely left.

"He is a gun owner and hunter who supports effective gun control laws, a combat veteran who, having seen a great deal of death, opposes capital punishment. A sense of balance comes through when he is talking. Unfortunately, so far in this campaign Mr. Kerry has shown little interest in being daring, expressing a thought that is unexpected or quirky on even minor issues. We wish we could see a little of the political courage of the Vietnam hero who came back to lead the fight against the war."

If you have a position, Mr. Kerry is for it, or at least he will be at some time. He is nuanced, not contradictory. And did he "lead" the fight against the war? Was that John Kerry "leading " the fight?

"While Mr. Kerry and Mr. Edwards have both demonstrated the physical and mental endurance that now seems a requisite for presidential candidates, Mr. Kerry has been the real comeback star this year. His early campaign was disastrous, and his slip from favorite to also-ran was so dramatic as to be embarrassing. But he pulled his organization together and handily won the early primaries. This was not the first time in his political career — or his life — that he has shown the toughness to keep going when things turn sour. That's a quality critical to a presidential nominee — and to a president."

Read, he has plenty of his own and his own wife's money to tap into if things go south. Well not south exactly. We don't really expect anyone to go south.

"The primary contest has now come down to two competing arguments. Mr. Kerry's supporters say Mr. Edwards suffers from a gravitas gap. Mr. Edwards's partisans say Mr. Kerry is on the wrong end of a charm chasm. The senator from Massachusetts seems to us to have warmed up a good deal since the campaign began. He can take the edge off his patrician aura, at least in part, by retelling the story of his Vietnam exploits and bringing back loyal blue-collar friends from the service to attest to his virtues as a leader."

Ahem, cough, uh, did the New York Times suggest that Kerry bring up Vietnam even MOOOORE? Is that even possible? This is the candidate who demanded that Vanity Fair photo op take place in a swift boat like the one he rode on in Vietnam, until they said that his picture wouldn't appear at all. He has adopted poor Max Cleland on the campaign trail for goodness sake. Do you think Cleland would be at all those campaign events if he could walk away? Kerry's probably got some staffer directed to push Cleland back on stage next to Kerry every time he tries to roll away.

"Almost everyone who has been watching the Democratic campaign would love to merge Mr. Kerry and Mr. Edwards into one composite super-candidate, with Mr. Kerry's depth and Mr. Edwards's personal touch with the voters. In the television era, likability is extremely important. But this is a serious business, and Mr. Kerry, the more experienced and knowledgeable candidate, gets our endorsement. "

In other words, we don't really like John Kery, he is boring, aloof, impassionate, and he can't connect to voters. But if even we find him boring he must be pretty smart. Also we don't really care about the qualit of the next President, we just want the guy who can beat Bush.

Well that's it. Quite an endorsement, that is. I am starting to feel alot better about President Bush's chances this fall.


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