By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Defenders insist that Kerry’s slippery circumlocutions are evidence of a “ruminative” intelligence drawn to “nuance.” If only. In fact, his ceaseless guff suggests a man so enthralled by his own droning that he can’t home in on what’s essential. That’s why the liberal e-zine Slate has begun supplementing its well-known “Bushism of the Day” feature with an equally absurd “Kerryism of the Day,” devoted to “the senator’s caveats and curlicues.”
Even when he’s redundant, he’s vague. D.C. blogger Wonkette recently posted this wondrous piece of campaign-trail Kerry-speak: I think it’s important to show them you have a plan. If you don’t have a plan, I don’t think people are going to have much confidence in you. But I have a plan. I have a specific plan about manufacturing jobs, a specific plan about how we’re going to fight for a fair playing field, a specific plan about science, technology investment. A specific plan about health care. I think you have to run an affirmative campaign, and I think you have to — I have to — show America a plan for the country. And I do have a plan. And that’s what I’m doing.
“Well, that’s a relief,” comments Wonkette, “There’s no way that someone who didn’t have a plan would say the word ‘plan’ that many times. Unless that was the plan.”
Luckily for Kerry, widespread hatred of Bush is cutting him the same slack on the left that Dubya got from the right four years ago: We don’t really expect him to inspire us, we only expect him to win. Sure, we wish he’d been smarter about Iraq or would say something compelling about it now — these days, he sounds almost exactly like Bush — but better a waffler who wouldn’t have started the war than the cocky liar who did. Sure, we wish he didn’t mess up his applause lines with weirdly portentous pauses, but better that than a president whose clearly Freudian (not Texan) pronunciation of “Abu Ghraib” as “Abu Grub” has us grinding our teeth down to the jawbone. Sure, Kerry’s cautious establishment liberalism is (as The Nation’s William Greider noted) every bit as frustrating as that of The New York Times’ editorial page, but, heck, that still beats Fox News. It’s not for nothing that there’s a Web site called JohnKerryIsaDoucheBagButImVotingforHimAnyway.com.
And this is the proper attitude with which to approach the upcoming election — disciplined but free from any illusions. It’s one of the left’s foibles, perhaps its Achilles’ heel, that it keeps pining for an inspirational leader who never, ever turns up. (Instead, we get Arianna and Michael Moore.) But the nonappearance of such a savior isn’t a bad thing. As the great socialist Eugene V. Debs famously declared, “I would not lead you into the promised land if I could, because if I could lead you in, someone else would lead you out.”
We face no such risk with John Kerry. Nobody believes he is leading anyone to any kind of promised land, but unlike George W. Bush, he may let us lead him out of his tent and in that general direction.