Monday, October 13, 2003

Senator Splunge decides he’s definitely against Iraq….maybe

The strangest feeling came over me while watching John Kerry on This Week on Sunday (see also here and here). He was rolling out his sharpest rhetoric so far on the Bush administration’s policies in Iraq, using words like “misled” and “fraud” and saying that Bush should apologize to the American people. Somewhat surprisingly, he said he was “inclined” to vote against the $87 billion request for Afghanistan and Iraq. But he was pushing too hard and his responses became long-winded harangues, leaving George S. and George Will sputtering to interrupt: “Senator…..Senator…..Sir?” Sensing that time was running short, Will said “Senator” at least four times to cut off a response that obviously turned into a successful filibuster against a follow-up. But when it was all done, I couldn’t remember a single thing Kerry had said – it had been all bluster and no substance. Maybe once you hear the same talking points over and over, you tune out.

But the tone…oh I remember the tone. The message below the surface was: “Howard Dean is killing me with his anti-war rhetoric. I need to distance myself from my Iraq resolution vote as much as possible.” And that’s when it hit me: it’s all slipping away from Kerry. The man who wanted to be president since he was 19 is watching all his aspirations battered, bullied and buried by Clark on the right and Dean on the left. He’s gasping for attention, but nobody can understand what he’s saying.

So for all my dislike of Kerry, that strange feeling I felt was pity. He’s going to lose New Hampshire, then Iowa, then South Carolina. All the buzz will be on Dean and Kerry will be an “also-ran.” He’ll try to ratchet up the attacks a little more – maybe call Bush a “traitor” or something – but in a couple of months nobody will be paying attention.

Poor John Kerry.

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