Jewish World Review Jan. 26, 2004 / 3 Shevat, 5764

Bernadette Malone

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Kerry wins debate by being mediocre


http://www.jewishworldreview.com | BY VIRTUE of some humorously bad competition, John Kerry is once again the Democratic Presidential frontrunner. At Thursday night's debate at Saint Anselm College, the droopy Boston Brahmin we once thought was washed up looked the most Presidential of any of the contenders — thanks to the recent blunders of Howard "Meltdown" Dean and Wesley "Who Am I?" Clark.


What a difference a campaign season makes. Coming off his big win in Iowa, John Kerry is the new place for Democrats to rest their hopes for defeating George W. Bush in November. How sad for them.


Kerry no longer seems slightly unstable for all his years of pretending and dancing around the truth. Now he's a rock of stability compared to Dean, who looked in Thursday night's debate like he might bite his own head off (instead of someone else's, for a change), as his chin sank down towards his shirt collar while his eyes widened and his eyebrows rose up to his scalp in apparent ecstatic frenzy.


He announced he had a cold, but wasn't that foam in the corners of his mouth? Dean succeed in not losing it, as he did in Iowa, but from the look of him, keeping his temper was no small feat. Maybe wife Judy, also a physician, prescribed something for the Deaniac before the debate.


And Kerry's chronic flip-flopping on important issues — such as voting for the resolution to invade Iraq, then criticizing the President for invading Iraq — is but a venal sin now that Gen. Wesley Clark, a much more grave offender, is in the spotlight. ABC's Peter Jennings asked Clark to reconcile his virulent criticism of Bush's handling of the war in Iraq with an April 2003 article he wrote for The Times of London, lavishing praise on Bush for his prosecution of the war. Clark mumbled about not wanting to criticize Bush overseas, but why publish an article at all then? If Clark's authorship of the congratulatory article doesn't reveal an advanced case of Kerryesque double-speak, it represents a particular kind of disingenuousness and brown-nosing that might explain the rise to rank of general by a soldier described as having "character and integrity" problems by the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Hugh Shelton.

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Clark further embarrassed himself by refusing to denounce supporter Michael Moore's claim that President George W. Bush, who served in the Texas Air National Guard during Vietnam, was a "deserter." Jennings asked Clark if accusing Bush of "desertion" wasn't going too far, but Clark only responded that he's heard the desertion charge "bandied" about. Clark must have also heard it "bandied" that Bush is a Nazi (a favorite charge of limousine liberal George Soros and his friends, a smear widely covered by the media); is that charge also fair game? Democrats probably hoped a West Point graduate and retired Army general would make an honorable and serious candidate; alas, Clark is no serious candidate. And where is his honor?


Kerry, in quiet contrast to the other frontrunners, appeared Thursday night as a serious candidate on the debate stage: the only candidate wearing an American flag pin on his lapel, the only candidate of the seven who didn't make you want to giggle or gag when he answered. (Two possible exceptions: The sober Joe Lieberman made you want to ask, "Why are you running as a Democrat?" And John Edwards made you want to ask, "Why don't you get a few more years' experience under your belt and try again in 2008?")


Kerry's answers may have been wrong (such as admitting he would raise taxes), but they were decisive, earnest, and to the point. What a welcome relief.


Flanked by Al Sharpton and Dennis Kucinich, two bumbling Bolsheviks who generously contributed more than their fair share of comic relief to the debate, Kerry positively sparkled as a statesman.


But still. Kerry's ascendancy to front-runner status is attributable more to the fact that the other candidates are so poor, rather than because he is so good. Again, how very sad for Democrats.



Comment on JWR contributor Bernadette Malone's column by clicking here.

Up

01/19/04: "Old style politics" has gotta go?
01/12/04: Prez mocks legal immigrants
01/06/04: New year, but the chattering class' ennui already kicking in
11/10/03: Time for "diversity" for GOPers?
11/03/03: Two cheers for loopy loudmouth Sharpton
10/20/03: And who can blame them?
10/07/03: Irony seems to have been lost on most in ‘leakgate’
09/30/03: Will the Dems finally produce an alpha male before it's time to name a nominee who can scare Bush?
09/23/03: ‘K Street’ will reinforce American cynicism
09/09/03: When real life starts to imitate virtual reality, itís time to reboot

© 2003, Bernadette Malone