Monday, December 02, 2002

The Kerry Challenge

Mickey Kaus has issued what might be called the Kerry Challenge, asking readers to explain what it is about Senator John Kerry (D-MA) that leaves him so universally disliked. Kaus himself cites the perpetually furrowed brow, which is indeed annoying. Howie Carr lasers in on Kerry's narcissism and opportunism. Back in my Globe days, I found Kerry's unwillingness to take a politically difficult stand off-putting (Kerry couldn't even bring himself to vote for Operation Desert Storm, a lay-up if there ever was one). And then there's the "gloomy Gus" thing, which I reference in the Kerry item below (scroll down).

But the real key to John F. Kerry is probably Billy Bulger's famous line that his initials (JFK) stand for "Just For Kerry." All politicians are self-interested, of course, but they are also collegial. They trade favors back and forth. They help each other out. They keep their word (generally speaking) to one another.

Kerry is perceived, as Kaus says, as "arrogant and aloof." But it's not really that. It's that, even by political standards, he's unusually self- interested and self-involved. During his dating days (after his first marriage ended), I woman I know who had just returned from London, was fixed up with Kerry for a blind date. They went to a nice restaurant and had a good meal. Throughout the various courses, Kerry seemed perturbed that no one in the restaurant recognized him.

No matter, with dessert and coffee he got down to business and began to explain to the recently re-patrioted woman what he would do when he was elected President. She was completely bewildered. Voters will likely experience the same sensation.