Conservatives have gone to excess in their disdain for Kerry
NRO editor Kathryn Jean Lopez, under the heading “This man could have been president of the United States,” quotes a passage from the Newsweek article about Kerry in which the candidate, riding in a car on the way to a photo session for the cover of Time, gets annoyed with his personal assistant for losing his hairbrush and not having a fresh battery for his cellphone. Kerry even uses the “f” word.
I don’t see the terribly disqualifying things about Kerry in this anecdote that Lopez professes to see. Her title, “This man could have been president of the United States,” is an example of how conservatives have gone overboard in their disdain for Kerry. We can agree that he was an appalling candidate, without having to ridicule him for even the most trivial, personal things about him, acting like everything about him is creepy and objectionable. Can Lopez imagine what it’s like being a major candidate for president, the constant movement, the total organizing of every moment of one’s life, the need to be constantly “on,” the indispensable requirement for assistants to provide one with all one’s personal and other needs, and what it would be like when that’s not working? Is Lopez really suggesting, because Kerry got annoyed with his assistant and used the “f” word, that that disqualified him for the presidency? Which is more disqualifying: that Kerry dressed down his aide, or that Kerry is an anti-American leftist appeaser? For wall-to-wall Kerry haters, there’s no difference. Everything about him, every atom of his being, is equally horrible.
In the overreaction of many Republicans and conservatives to an admittedly terrible candidate, there has been a loss of human perspective, even of basic fairness.
The anti-Kerry overkill has also been politically counterproductive. When people, who for months had kept hearing conservatives’ horrific descriptions of Kerry, finally saw the candidate himself in the first debate, they saw someone who was not that bad, and this made their thoughts recoil in his favor. As Camille Paglia put it in a recent interview in Salon:
I was very pleased with Kerry’s performance because the image he had on the radio talk shows was a joke: he’s a flip-flopper; he’s wishy-washy; he’s a weak-kneed Massachusetts liberal; he has a French haircut and is a gigolo who marries money—on and on for months. And then in that first debate, which I thought was his best, Kerry just stood there in a very poised, dignified manner and seemed absolutely like a man who could be commander in chief. And interestingly, we watched Bush fall to pieces—he seemed to spin off into some weird psychic maelstrom.Of course, Paglia is a Democrat. But I know conservatives who conveyed to me exactly the same reaction to the first debate as Paglia’s.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at November 06, 2004 05:40 PM | Send