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Blog Watch

Blog Watch

Issue: "What is art?," March 20, 2004

Unified Kerry Theory

Mickey Kaus (kausfiles.com) continued his search for a Unified Kerry Theory that can explain the difference between the Vietnam-era man of action and the modern-day flip-flopper. After a former Kerry aide described an "Indoor John" and "Outdoor John," nuanced thinker and man of action, respectively, Mr. Kaus arrived at a new trial UKT: "Isn't it plausible that Kerry sees his seemingly sudden decisions to flip-flop and pander to this or that constituency as quite similar to his Swift Boat surprise? They're both unexpected reversals of field that save Kerry's hide. When Kerry suddenly abandons the heretical affirmative action initiative on which he's been working for months, for example, maybe he doesn't think he's failing to 'beach his boat and dash ashore.' Maybe he thinks he is beaching his boat and dashing ashore! Indoor John has thought and anticipated and nuanced and studied and planned. Then Outdoor John takes over and says-Boom!-time to reverse course and pander, fast! Before those interest groups can launch their rockets!"

Since they are a feisty lot, many bloggers tend to like someone who sticks to his guns-and in that regard, Mr. Kerry may have been first in war but he is last in peace. Steven Den Beste (denbeste.nu) concluded, "Based on everything I know about him now, I cannot in good conscience consider voting for him. I would rather vote for a candidate with known policies with which I disagree than for a candidate whose true policies-if any-are kept hidden under a bushel basket, at the bottom of a locked filing cabinet, in a dis-used lavatory with a sign on the door saying 'Beware of the leopard.' If I were somehow forced to choose, I'd vote for Nader before I'd vote for Kerry. At least I know what Nader stands for."

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Post-primary colors

Pamela Leavey, writing for the Kerry campaign blog (blog.johnkerry.com) and tactlessly describing a scene from a Kerry campaign gathering, reported, "When Teresa Heinz-Kerry arrived, she handed me a pin that read in the center: 'Asses of Evil' with 'Bush,' 'Cheney,' 'Rumsfeld' and 'Ashcroft' surrounding it." James Lileks (lileks.com/bleats) didn't think that was exactly first-lady behavior: "I'd like to ask if you can possibly imagine Laura Bush doing that."

Another Kerry campaign utterance that could come back to haunt the Massachusetts senator is his own comment that "I've met foreign leaders who can't go out and say this publicly, but boy they look at you and say, 'You've got to win, you've got to beat this guy, we need a new policy,' things like that." The blog race to figure out which foreign leaders were whispering encouragement to John Kerry was quickly on. Instapundit asked, "Is it really smart for Kerry to be bragging that foreign leaders want him to beat Bush so as to produce a more compliant U.S. foreign policy?" And Right Wing News gushed, "I LOVE a mystery, don't you? Who could these mysterious 'foreign leaders' be? Could they be Iranian? Perhaps they're from North Korea?"

That last guess is not so far-fetched, since a story in the Financial Times reported on North Korea's government-controlled media playing John Kerry's speeches.

Cheap gasoline

Urban Outfitters has pulled its T-shirt that read, "Voting Is for Old People"-and now Gregg Easterbrook (tnr.com/easterbrook.mhtml) tells us that young people have no reason to groan about the purportedly "record" prices of gas at the pumps. After pointing out that, adjusted to inflation, the true record was in 1981, Mr. Easterbrook made another comparison: "The average price of gasoline during the 1950s was about $1.80 in today's money-meaning that during the period enshrined in our collective political nostalgia as Energy Heaven, gasoline cost slightly more in real dollars than the amount now being theatrically bemoaned as a 'record' price. But wait; in the 1950s, per-capita real income was less than half what it is today. That means that for the typical American in the 1950s, gasoline cost twice as much, in terms of buying power, as today's gasoline. Adjusted for inflation and for buying power, the purported 'record'-priced gasoline at your pumps now is substantially cheaper than the gasoline your parents bought."

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