James Clay Fuller

Things We're Not Supposed to Say

Sunday, February 15, 2004

The bad news: We're stuck with Kerry

"If a voter has a choice between a Republican and a Democrat who acts like a Republican, he'll vote for the Republican every time." -- Harry S Truman.

It is obvious that the Democrats have been suckered into making John Kerry, an almost sure loser, their presidential candidate this year.

Yes, suckered. The reporter herd persuaded many Democrats that there was something wrong with their strongest candidate, Howard Dean – primarily that he was too impolite and too passionate to be president. That he is, in other words, a “flake.” (If he is, so, too, were Harry Truman and Minnesota’s superb senator, the late Paul Wellstone.) Of course, once having sold that idea to the Democrats in Iowa, it was easy to make it appear to Democratic voters in New Hampshire and later primaries and caucuses that Dean couldn’t win and to get them to accept the old-line pol as the candidate most likely to beat the nominal president.

I covered much of that in a piece published here on Jan. 22. (See archives on the right side of screen.) I also said in January that as soon as Kerry had the nomination – or even before it was formally accomplished – the media people would start dismantling his reputation. The predictions required no brilliance, just many years of close observation of political reporters and pundits.

For the past 10 days or so, as of this writing, many columns and quite a few “news” stories are being written with the aim of gutting Kerry. A prime example – one of many – is a Feb. 12 piece by Jeff Jacoby an extreme right-wing columnist for the Boston Globe.

“Equivocating politicians are sometimes accused of trying to be ‘all things to all people,’ but few have taken the practice of expedience and shifty opportunism to Kerry’s level,” declares Jacoby. Then he gets rough.

The real problem with that sort of thing is that there are grounds for such complaints. Yes, certainly Kerry would be a better president than the vile George W. Bush and whomever actually makes decisions in the White House now. Kerry would at least slow our dash to a post-Constitutional, plutocratic form of government, but it is unlikely that he can beat Bush, who has the advantage of appearing to stand firmly for something. (He does, of course, but not what the public thinks he stands for.)

The press is about to demolish Kerry. The fact that the Jacoby piece was reprinted, and reprinted on a Sunday (Feb. 15), in the Minneapolis StarTribune, shows what we can expect. Although Jacoby is an unknown factor in the Twin Cities, he was not identified, and he should have been. He is an extremist who regularly displays contempt for the truth. He was suspended from the Globe for four months last August for lifting and altering a piece circulating on the Web at the time without crediting the source. He is, as his own newspaper declared, a plagiarist, which says all anybody needs to know about his ethics.

No matter, from the political standpoint. Kerry will be constantly on the defensive from such attacks, and because some of the charges of inconstancy and opportunism are true, all defenses will look like lies. Unless there is some major event to show the mass of voters – the Great Unfocused – what Bush really is, Kerry is dead meat.

Sometimes there is a dirty little pleasure in saying “I told you so.” Not this time. Not at all.