Novelist Roger L. Simon made the latter argument on his blog in late January, citing the following comment from "Catherine," a reader of his:
"Don't give a speech condemning the war, as John Kerry did, and *then* go off to Vietnam to shoot people. If you think it's wrong to go off to Vietnam & shoot people, then that's your position. Stick with it.
*And* if you do decide to go off to Vietnam and shoot people, don't then come back to call your fellow soldiers war criminals."
The Simon argument has the virtue of yielding a Unified Kerry Theory, in which Kerry's Vietnam Service is of a piece, in terms of self-contradictory opportunism, with his Iraq War positioning. I'm not ready to embrace it--I give Kerry points for serving, even if he didn't think he was doing anyone any good, on "if I don't serve who will go in my place" grounds. And even hypocritically commanding a boat in the Mekong Delta can reveal genuine courage and leadership qualities.
The Kerry problem is more that these qualities haven't been much displayed in the decades since, when he has been a distinctly non-courageous, positioning, play-it-safe politician. Did he take so many risks in Vietnam he that was determined never to take another risk again? ... 1:40 A.M.
Wednesday, February 11, 2004
Obvious CW-ish point: John Edwards now has to decide if he will beat up on John Kerry in advance of the big March 2 primary. It's hard to see how he can possibly win the nomination otherwise. Given the breakdown in the Feiler Faster principle, it doesn't look as if the media is going to do the job on Kerry in time. Edwards would probably like Howard Dean to do the Kerry-bashing for him while he reaps the beneftis, and some of that may happen. But Dean isn't getting much of a hearing these days. In effect, Edwards must choose whether he wants to be president or vice-president. ... 12:06 P.M.
Shrum v. Ickes: Their rivalry has now become a big deal. ... One of them decides what Kerry's deepest beliefs are! The other will control $100 million in independent anti-Bush advertising and is resisting Shrum's cookie-cutter Gore-rerun populism. ... Ickes has become a powerful interest that stands in Shrum's way! ... John Ellis is all over the story, and correctly asks if the NYT will report it or suppress it. ... P.S.: The job of negotiating an Ickes-Shrum truce is obviously Bill Clinton's, although it could be tricky if Clinton, as mediator, gets accused of "coordinating" Ickes' allegedly "independent" ad campaign with Shrum's official campaign. But presumably Clinton can,without violating campaign finance laws, at least tell Ickes to shut up.(Clinton may well already have done that.) ...P.P.S.: The New York Observer's Ben Smith started this. ... P.P.P.S.: I claim to have foreseen the Ickes vs. campaign tension--but I thought it would be between Ickes and the Dean campaign. ... The pro-McCain-Feingold implication stands, however--Kerry may not "owe" contributors to Ickes' fund the way he "owes" contributors to his own campaign. (Indeed, he may resent Ickes' backers if Ickes keeps sniping at his "populist" strategy.) So even if big contributors have found a way around McCain-Feingold's soft-money restrictions, the corrupting consequences are not the same. ... 11:31 A.M.
The Curse of Overspin: Alert reader K.M. notes the Occam's Razor-like principle that explains the entire 2004 campaign:
Kerry + Lehane = Kerry in trouble!
Clark + no Lehane = Frontrunner!
Kerry - Lehane = The nominee!
Clark + Lehane = Loser who drops out.
Tuesday, February 10, 2004