Sunday, September 05, 2004
Joe Klein's advice to Kerry: You've got to exaggerate harder to get elected!
Joe Klein's post-RNC op-ed in Time concludes with this stunning paragraph (boldface mine):
After a week of gut-wound assaults on his character, Kerry finally fired back on Thursday night, assailing Bush and Cheney for having avoided service in Vietnam and for having "misled" us into Iraq. The latter may be an exaggeration, but after the G.O.P. assault, Kerry has a right to exaggerate with impunity. Indeed, if he hopes to win, Kerry will have to do much more of that. He will have to become a version of the young John Kerry not celebrated at the Democratic Convention—the eloquent, passionate, uncoached leader of Vietnam Veterans Against the War who caused the Nixon White House serious heartburn. Where did that fabulous young politician ever go, anyway?
Yes, Joe, I absolutely agree! Exaggerate harder, Long John! That's the ticket! All that's been holding you back so far has been your scrupulous adherence to the truth! We know that your intrinsic modesty and honesty are seared — seared! — into your character, but break free of those chains, Senator!
And indeed, Kerry should spend the rest of his campaign rebutting the SwiftVets, and reasserting the charges that "fabulous young politician" made in 1971! Fabulous advice! You have a right to exaggerate with impunity! Impunity, meaning no one can vote against you on that basis, certainly. And if anyone challenges you about your exaggerations, demand of them, "Do you know who I am?" and roar back that you "will not have it!" when someone questions your patriotism that way! Dammit, you earned the right to exaggerate with impunity when you picked up four medals in 22 days, didn't you? So show us some more heat, Senator! Show us you're not really cool and aloof. Maybe a primal scream or two would help — ask Howard Dean for some lessons.
Klein's column contains a couple of other interesting bits:
The Kerry strategy is to present an "optimistic" candidate with a "positive plan for the future." The Kerry consultants, who actually believe this claptrap and have zero sense of political theater, sound like a bunch of low-budget Ginzu-knife salesmen when they represent their candidate on television: We're offering you a $4,000 college-tuition tax credit and — for no extra charge — a $1,000 reduction in your health-care costs! They also seem to believe this election isn't about the most important decision Bush has made: to go to war in Iraq. Kerry's adherence to that strategy — including the robotic repetition of the words strong and values — has made him seem weak, transparent, a focus-group marionette with neon strings.
Joe, did it occur to you that he may be a weak, transparent, focus-group marionette with neon strings? Very nice imagery, though! You should email that to Zell Miller, Joe.
The message of the week [during the RNC] was: You know where Bush stands. You can't be sure about Kerry. But that headline also came with a misleading subhead: Bush is fighting the war against terrorism, and Kerry wouldn't.
I agree. The subhead should be: "Bush will lead America and our allies like Australia, Britain, Holland, Poland, Italy, etc. in fighting the war against terrorism; and Kerry might, especially if the Germans and the French and the U.N. Security Council go along, although that's a complicated question, and as in Desert Storm, he might not go to war even when the Germans and French and the Security Council are willing." Probably needs a footnote or two of additional qualifiers, but once those are added, that would indeed be a far more accurate subhead.
The attacks on Kerry ranged from the reasonable — he certainly has empretzeled himself on Iraq — to the outrageous: Zell Miller's assertion that Kerry would take his orders from Paris.
Zell actually said that "Kerry would let Paris decide when America needs defending," but why quibble? Klein works for Time, and surely that means he can exaggerate with impunity. But I love that word — "empretzeled" — and will add it to my favorite new words list along with "flipfloppitude." (Neither would lend itself to a good audience chant like "flip-flop" does, though.)
Update (Sun Sep 5 @ 10pm): Professor Bainbridge has a nicely detailed rejoinder to liberal blogger Kevin Drum's suggestion that the Dems need to lather themselves up sufficiently to stop "fighting fair" the way they have been so far in this race. Also, Dale Franks at QandO reacted to Klein's op-ed much the way I did, but took more trouble to fisk properly instead of just chortle.
Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to Joe Klein's advice to Kerry: You've got to exaggerate harder to get elected! and sent a trackback ping are listed here:
(1) D Carter made the following comment | Sep 5, 2004 8:06:31 PM | Permalink
Shhhhh! Not so loud! Let Klein and all the other mediasaurs believe that they are giving Kerry great advice. If Kerry continues to harken to the imbecilariat, then the whole Democratic Party may go down with all hands this November.
I said it was great advice, didn't I? (I just didn't say who it was great for.)
(3) M. Simon made the following comment | Sep 5, 2004 10:36:20 PM | Permalink
You guys also need to focus on this:
Especially see my posts interspersed between #107 & #118 Also links to the Blogspirator.
We are going to have to get ready to deal with this stuff. Back in action again. Yee Haaa.
(4) Insufficiently Sensitive made the following comment | Sep 5, 2004 11:39:49 PM | Permalink
The eloquent, passionate, uncoached leader? Uncoached? Didn't one of the Kennedy speechwriters fix him up with that theatrically mendacious drivel to the Senate about US barbarians committing atrocities, with the approval of the whole chain of command?
(5) Patrick R. Sullivan made the following comment | Sep 6, 2004 10:26:02 AM | Permalink
"Joe, did it occur to you that he may be a weak, transparent, focus-group marionette with neon strings?"
Yes, will it ever dawn on Democrats that they've nominated the biggest nothing of all time? A non-entity as a Senator, who couldn't be elected Deputy Asst. Mayor in any town outside of Massachusetts. The only guy with less to offer is John Edwards; the guy who was afraid to run for re-election in North Carolina.
(6) M. Simon made the following comment | Sep 6, 2004 6:33:28 PM | Permalink
Uh, that was so yesterday for the Kerry campaign. Today they are working on holding their far left base by declaring that Iraq is a total mistake.
No mention of Russia etc. And sane people are thinking maybe we didn't take such a hit here because we are mowing them down in Iraq. Because Israel is taking hits for us.
My best guess is that as soon as he has shored up his base on the left again he will move right for a while. What we want is to havehim in the middle of a move hard left on 2 Nov.
Kerry '71 = Kerry '04.
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