Is Kerry Toast? No, he's Yost!
Plus--'Ask not' not, please.
Soxblog notes a strange bit of timing on the NYT op-ed page, which today ran Caroline Alexander's piece on the importance of maintaining archival documents--a piece that laments the loss of Bush's military pay records but bizarrely doesn't mention the Democrats' current document-disappearance scandal. Whatever Sandy Berger was up to, it was not archival maintenance. ... Update: Drudge is now reporting that the Bush records have been found, which either makes the NYT'stiming much better or much worse than I'd thought. ... 11:02 A.M.
Ortez? Ortez? Didn't they get him in a trade for Brandini? ESPN's Peter Gammons:
So who puts the bug in candidates' ears about seeming what they are not? John Kerry last week professed to be a big fan of "Manny Ortez," then re-emphasized the phoofery by correcting it to "David Ortez." No, that was Dave (Baby) Cortez and "The Happy Organ." A few years back Kerry went on a Boston station with Eddie Andelman and said "my favorite Red Sox player of all time is The Walking Man, Eddie Yost," who never played for the Red Sox.
Update: Yost was, however, a Red Sox coach for several years. ... Kf seems to be late to this seething controversy--for a page full of Kerry defense, click here. Note especially poster Social Scientist's comment:
Eddie Yost was a mediocre hitter who became an All-Star by letting the opposing pitcher screw up: he often led the league in walks, was near the top in on-base percentage. Boring, seemingly passive, reliable, effective..
Right. Maybe Kerry's being candid, not phony. What does it say that he admires a player who got on base not by hitting but by walking? Hmmm. So a) Kerry survives in Vietnam in large part by making his boat a small target. b) His standard political technique is to avoid clear, assailable stands. c) His 2004 strategy is remarkably passive, dependent almost entirely on voter satisfaction with the incumbent. Seemingly, he wants to get to the White House Yost-style, by a base on balls! The obvious question: Is someone who attains the presidency by getting a walk in any position to achieve much, either domestically or internationally? The answer isn't necessarily no. (Gerald Ford wasn't wholly ineffective.) And note how Kerry's passive, Yostish approach dovetails with the "return to normalcy" theme suggested by Peggy Noonan. If you want a break from Bush--if you think he's been swinging a bit too hard for the fences--an Eddie Yost might seem like just the man to send to the plate. ... 10:52 A.M.
The Panic Line: On the PBS NewsHour a month ago Mark Shields said of Kerry:
If he comes out of the convention, I would say given these numbers right now less than six or seven points ahead, I would be frankly surprised and I think then [David Brooks'] argument would start to say maybe he can't make the sale.
It's Dem-booster Shields setting these expectations, remember, not Bush strategist Matthew Dowd. ... If Kerry's big speech leaves him only four points ahead, with the GOP's half of the inning still to come, do we have permission to panic?... P.S.: 'Ask Not' Not! Noonan's advice regarding that speech seems sound, especially the idea of striking a plain, conversational, non-orotund tone (instead of the "proto-New Frontier sound that is the rhetorical default position for lost Democrats"). She doesn't think Kerry and speechwriter Bob Shrum will be able to resist JFK-ing it up, though. I tend to agree. Taking her advice would require Kerry to toss overboard a lifelong self-conception. ... But then I thought Kerry was too vain to pick Edwards. Who says there's no suspense left in the coming week? ... P.P.S.: This is my story and I'm stickin' to it. RCP's McIntyre gives voice to the Panickers' uncocooned, emperor-no-clothes bottom line:
"I see a lack of appreciation among Democrats and the press for just how unappealing a candidate they are about to nominate."
Photograph of Howard Dean on the Slate home page by Jim Bourg/Reuters.