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This Just In: John Kerry Is Dull
by Jonathan David Morris
05 May 2004John Kerry

Some Democrats are beginning to worry about John Kerry's electability.

In the Village Voice last week, James Ridgeway suggested the Democrats should pick a new presidential candidate.

"With the air gushing out of John Kerry's balloon," he wrote, "it may be only a matter of time until political insiders in Washington face the dread reality that the junior senator from Massachusetts doesn't have what it takes to win and has got to go. As arrogant and out of it as the Democratic political establishment is, even these pols know the party's got to have someone to run against George Bush."

A few days later, on Fox News Watch, the Fox News Channel's in-house media critics wondered if maybe -- just maybe -- the media's underwhelmed with Kerry and ready to turn on him. Now, that may well be, but where's the newsflash here? So Kerry's about as likable as the bird flu. So what? This isn't new news. Welcome to one year ago.

The Democrats didn't want a compelling candidate. The media didn't want one, either. They already had one, and his name was Howard Dean. He was the only Democrat who caught on with voters, and the Democrats, in turn, said no one would vote for him.

He was too liberal, they said. Unelectable.

And the media played along with it.

Yet Dean was one of the more conservative candidates from either major party. In Vermont, for example, he worked to balance budgets. He also defaulted to states' rights on gay marriage and gun control, putting him to the Right of many federalist Republicans.

Dean wasn't a peacenik, either. He opposed the Second Gulf War, but supported the First, and supported the war in Afghanistan. He even supported sending troops to Liberia. As noted anti-war writer Justin Raimondo put it, "[Dean] is no more opposed to our imperial foreign policy than is Joe Lieberman -- or George W. Bush."

When Dean "imploded" on stage after the Iowa caucuses, however, the establishment kicked it into high gear. Dean was unstable, they said. He wasn't fit to lead.

Can any man seeking the presidency -- and the power to end the world with the push of a single button -- possibly be "stable" by any conventional stretch? Good question, but never you mind. By the time the New Hampshire primaries rolled around, clips of Dean screaming were overplayed -- and played out -- to a level usually reserved for rock radio staples like Pink Floyd and Queen. Is it any wonder no one wanted to hear him anymore? Lord knows, after thirteen years, I'm sick of hearing Pearl Jam's "Jeremy" on the radio every hour.

Now, that's not to say Dean's scream wasn't silly. It was. And he was also becoming arrogant by that time (telling a man at an open forum to "sit down, you've had your say" couldn't've helped his cause). But the media was pushing Kerry's electability long before Dean's "meltdown." For a time there, Kerry was polling on par with Carol Moseley Braun. But still, the pundits said, Dean's anti-war traction wouldn't -- indeed, couldn't -- translate in the general election.

Yes, it was Kerry, they said, who could beat George Bush -- even as Kerry made Dean's "unelectable" war platform his own.

So now that's who the Democrats are left with. John F. Kerry. Mr. Electable. For all the talk of George Bush being dumb, this guy is about as empty a vessel as empty vessels come. Not intellectually, but charismatically. He's like a computer. Computers process complex information. They accomplish grand tasks. Yet they only know two things: Zero and One. And that's how John Kerry operates. His mouth is a disk drive. He'll say what he's programmed to say.

Oh, the Iraq war isn't going well? Insert Anti-War 2.004.

Oh, the economy's not creating jobs? Insert Tax-the-Rich Pro, Outsourcing Expansion Pack.

Even John Kerry's most ardent supporters don't seem to support John Kerry. They support the idea of John Kerry. They support this notion that he's electable. But what, exactly, is this notion based on?

Is it his long and undistinguished Senate career?

Is it his haircut?

Is it anything at all?

As far as I can tell, Kerry is only electable because we were told he's electable. Other than that, he's uninspiring.

And what an interesting choice, I might add, for the Anyone-But-Bush crowd. I guess they mean it when they say "anyone." He certainly isn't less militaristic. According to a quote on his campaign site: "Americans deserve a principled diplomacy... backed by undoubted military might... based on enlightened self-interest, not the zero-sum logic of power politics." Why doesn't he come right out and say America knows what's best for the rest of the world? And how is this different than our current policy of democracy-from-above?

Kerry says he'll internationalize the Iraq effort. He'll bring in NATO and the U.N., and sink us further into the world-government mire.


Because the current bureaucracy just isn't big enough.

So now let's return to the question up top: Can John Kerry win the White House? As it stands, he's running neck-and-neck -- but only neck-and-neck -- with a once impossibly-popular president coming off his toughest month yet. According to James Ridgeway, this means Kerry is doomed. "If things proceed as they are," Ridgeway concludes, "the dim-bulb Dem leaders are going to be very sorry they screwed Howard Dean." That may be, but, in fairness, we've got several months to go.

A more important question, then, is: Why did the Democrats want a boring -- I'm sorry, "electable" -- candidate anyway?

Is it because Kerry's just a placeholder for Hillary Clinton? Or is it because Bush and Kerry -- both members of a secret society, Skull and Bones -- are placeholders for each other? Those are the theories right now, and I won't rule them out. But still, I'd like to believe our political parties are too dumb to come up with such elaborate schemes.

As a friend of mine -- who couldn't care less about politics -- puts it, the Skull and Bones connection means Bush and Kerry have probably spanked each other with paddles at some point in their lives. What an excellent way of looking at the '04 election. This is the era of the "closely divided" electorate, after all. Bush and Kerry want the White House, and the media's going to help them win it -- provided they both do just enough to lose.

Jonathan David Morris is a political satirist based in New Jersey. His website is Read JDM

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