The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes
Sunday, September 26, 2004
Apoplexy for DEWDROPs - and Kerry is loaded for more than bear
In the history of bylines, it's up there with Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons! Those supreme Dem hate-figures Adam Nagourney and Jodi Wilgoren together at last, with a piece in Sunday's Times swimming in vitriol, under hed Kerry as the Boss: Always More Questions.
The tone is set with a feature-type lede which starts into an anecdote illustrating Kerry's extreme obsession with wonkery:
For 15 minutes in Milwaukee the other day, Senator John Kerry pummeled his staff with questions about an attack on President Bush, planned for later that morning, that accused the White House of hiding a huge Medicare premium increase.
His aides supposedly scurried hither and yon for the answers to those questions; but, they said,
few of those facts found their way into his blistering attack.
(You're not expecting any of these oh-so-helpful aides to be named, I assume...)
The picture is of a guy obsessed with - well, nuance at the expense of the practical business of running a campaign.
Even his aides concede that Mr. Kerry can be slow in taking action, bogged down in the very details he is so intent on collecting...
one close adviser(the close very reassuring, credibility-wise, natch!) vouchsafed that 
Mr. Kerry...is apt to be most influenced by the last person who has his ear.
So those polls saying that most folks don't think Kerry is much of a leader show wisdom amongst the electorate, then.
(Even Mr Shakedown, Jesse Too Much Man For Just One Woman Jackson is quoted as making a sly dig at Kerry on the point.)
The piece makes the time-honoured senator v governor comparison of executive experience (or the lack of it) - a Conventional Wisdom of which I'm disposed to doubt the basis. (It's certainly a CW, though.)
And contrasts the Bushies with the Kerry campaign's hired guns, who, if press reports are to be believed (ha!), do not always play nice amongst themselves. (Hence the blabbermouths furnishing N & W's story.)
It's the policies, not the campaign, that interest him :
Representative Ted Strickland of Ohio said that during a recent bus trip through the small towns of the Appalachian region that make up his district, Mr. Kerry peppered him with questions about the way the reduction of import tariffs had affected the pottery industry - not about the voting patterns in a state he is struggling to win back from the Republicans.
That does not mean he is detached from running his campaign. Aides say he takes interest in matters large and small, but typically only after he senses his candidacy is in peril.
(You really can't get the staff...)
Whence, by way of illustration of Kerry's interest in the campaign, we come to the awkward question of the assault weapons ban:
It was Mr. Kerry's idea, an aide said, to attack Mr. Bush on gun control with the expiration of the [ban].
And learn from another, solo, Wilgoren piece that Kerry owns
a Communist Chinese assault rifle.
A tad surprising, given his generally strong support for assault weapons reform . But old soldiers do keep souvenirs.
Rather more surprising is the difficulty of the Kerry campaign - if one can believe Wilgoren (answers on a postcard!) - in furnishing the most basic details about this gun and Kerry's ownership of it.
The pièce de resistance:
On Thursday morning, [Kerry spokesman Michael Meehan] said he had not been able to ask Mr. Kerry about the rifle because of Mr. Kerry's hoarse voice; he did not respond to further inquiries.
After coming up with that line, no doubt he needed a long lie down.
Of course - to provide a little objectivity - Meehan's mot was hardly in the same league of crassness as Bush's reference to the CIA's work in its National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq as being a guess. But then, he is the Commander-in-Chief, so naturally more is expected of him...
The sequel on the Kerry assault rifle.
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