December 03, 2002
Goring Kerry

Kevin Raybould has a sharp rebuke to Mickey Kaus for the reasons Kaus gives for disliking John Kerry. The "nut graf", as the insiders say:

This whole post is Gore II. Gore was a bad man because of his appearance ("earth tones"), Kerry is a bad man because of his appearance ("furrowed brow"). Gore was unprincipled ("farm chores"), Kerry is unprincipled(he "apparently" changed a position to appease a core constituency). Gore was boring and not one of us ("wooden"), Kerry is boring and not one of us("animatronic Lincoln"). As with Gore, there is not one mention of Kerry's positions, and the attacks are backed up weakly, if at all.

That's pretty much it. Look, like Kerry and Gore or don't, but for Pete's sake can we at least occasionally talk about what they actually say and do as opposed to their facial hair? It's the same thing with Bush. I don't really care whether or not he's a "moron" (for the record, I think he's of normal intelligence, has excellent people skills, and lacks in intellectual curiosity), but all the talk about it just distracts from what's really going on.

This is the main failing, and the main bias, of the press these days. They give us a story line and they stick to it regardless of any inconvenient facts. What really blows me away is how easily a guy like Kaus, who's supposed to be one of those guys who Sees Through The Hype and Deconstructs The Spin in order to Bring You The Real Story, falls in lockstep with the conventional wisdom. If he'd tried to take even the tiniest peek behind the curtain to see if any of this crap has a grain of truth to it (as Matt Yglesias commendably did), I'd give him credit for it. Instead, he's eliciting reader feedback on Why Everyone Hates Kerry, presumably so he can crib someone else's pithy zinger for future use. Truly pathetic.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 03, 2002 to Other punditry | TrackBack

For what it's worth, I think Gore got a really bum deal in 2000. I didn't vote for him (no surprise there), but my columns for the Cougar didn't waste space on his wooden personality or changing identity.

That being said, that Gore came off the way he did was not irrelevent. That Kerry might too is also important. I said the same thing to Republicans about Bush coming off as a "moron" even when I supported the guy.

I have nothing specific against Kerry's policies, but he (unlike Gore, actually) just makes me squirm. I'm not going to lie and say that I'd vote for Russ Feingold (who is prolly more liberal) or pretend that it's his personality that will make me vote against him (should be win the nomination), but I think there are a lot of other people who are going to look at him and say "I don't want this guy being my president" in a way they might not look at Feingold.

That's something Democrats do need to think about.

Posted by: R. Alex on December 3, 2002 12:21 PM

I'm not saying that personality isn't a factor. I'm saying that the amount of ink devoted to that factor is way out of line with the amount devoted to issues of substance.

FWIW, I'm one of those people who largely doesn't care about a given politician's personality. That may be because I get more of my news through various print sources than through TV. Politicians who make my teeth grind on TV are almost always the ones whose politics I can't stand. I admit that I may be the mutant here.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on December 3, 2002 12:44 PM

FWIW, isn't Dick Cheney one of those guys who gives normal people the creeps no matter whose side he's on? Why don't we hear more about how everyone hates him?

Imagine him as a professor or a high school principal. Where's my drop/add card? How soon can I transfer?

Posted by: Ill Literate on December 3, 2002 5:51 PM

Isn't it obvious what is going on here? Why can Republicans be honest and say, "Stop offering Democratic candidates with ideas! Nominate Joseph Lieberman, Bob Kreuger or Lee P. Brown and we'll leave you alone."

When they get really nasty, then we'll know we've found the right standard-bearer. Then we'll know we've found someone with whom they are truly frightened.

Posted by: Don on December 3, 2002 6:13 PM

Naaah, the GOP was nasty to both Clinton (good candidate) and Gore (bad candidate)... not sure that's an effective strategy, Don.

Not that we've been particularly nice to Brown, either...

Posted by: R. Alex on December 4, 2002 4:28 PM