Monday, March 08, 2004

John Kerry will be a formidable candidate this year because he has one Clintonian quality that the media salivates over: a paralyzing, handwringing indecision on almost every important issue.

The media sees this quality as reflecting great depth. It was one of the keys of Clinton's "genius." Because Clinton had no worldview or actual principles, each issue that came up had to be weighed anew. Each issue had to be laboriously parsed, analyzed, and dissected because he had no overarching principles which helped him define them and no intellectual structure by which he could frame them.

If possible, Kerry exhibits this complete worldview vacuum to a greater degree than even Clinton. Presumably, this will cause him to be seen by the media as even more "brilliant." Kerry displays some of this brilliance in an interview in this week's TIME Magazine:
TIME: What would you have done about Iraq had you been the President?
KERRY: If I had been the President, I might have gone to war but not the way the President did. It might have been only because we had exhausted the remedies of inspections, only because we had to?because it was the only way to enforce the disarmament....

...TIME: Obviously it's good that Saddam is out of power. Was bringing him down worth the cost?
KERRY: If there are no weapons of mass destruction? and we may yet find some?then this is a war that was fought on false pretenses, because that was the justification to the American people, to the Congress, to the world, and that was clearly the frame of my vote of consent. I said it as clearly as you can in my speech. I suggested that all the evils of Saddam Hussein alone were not a cause to go to war.

TIME: So, if we don't find WMD, the war wasn't worth the costs? That's a yes?
KERRY: No, I think you can still?wait, no. You can't?that's not a fair question, and I'll tell you why. You can wind up successful in transforming Iraq and changing the dynamics, and that may make it worth it, but that doesn't mean [transforming Iraq] was the cause [that provided the] legitimacy to go. You have to have that distinction.

As a Washington Post article points out (dug up by Taranto), this kind of thing is seen by his supporters (and the media will be among them, soon enough) as Solomonic wisdom:
"George Bush is, 'I know what's right, and I know what's wrong,' regardless of the nature of reality," said Jonathan Winer, Kerry's counsel from 1983 to 1994. "John takes the opposite approach: 'Don't assume you know where I am. Don't assume I know what I think. We'll talk it through.' It's a deliberate suspension."

Kerry is a man who studies the menu at restaurants, even when he knows what he's going to order. Entering a room, he pauses and looks around, as if to weigh his options. He is so fond of the phrase "tough choices" that Senate staffers routinely inserted it in his speeches because they knew he would say it anyway.

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