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Mass Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-22-11 06:40 AM
Original message
A Statesman Too Late?
Edited on Thu Sep-22-11 06:41 AM by Mass
Sigh. I cannot decide whether I should be happy or infuriated by this article. Bernstein has always had a lot of respect for Kerry, but at the same time, he cannot avoid repeating the old memes (Kerry is made fun of by MA and DC), and if he recognizes Kerry's qualities for service, his conclusion is that it is pretty much irrelevant given the mess in DC. I took me until the end to get what the goal of this article was: Kerry should campaign against Brown in MA. If Dems lose, it will be his fault. I love David Berstein, but this is absolutely insane an analysis.

The caption of the picture tells it all:

THE IMPOTENCE OF BEING EARNEST Are Kerrys strengths bipartisanship, compromise, honest debate relevant in the Tea Partys America?

Read more:


Popular political interpretation says that this is the latest stage in Kerry's lengthy audition for secretary of state a job coming open if Obama wins a second term, since Hillary Clinton has said she will not serve beyond 2012.

Kerry, according to this view, is eager to leave the Senate, where he has served for 26 years the last seven after narrowly failing to become leader of the free world. He was passed over for Clinton in 2009, and is now desperate to show his fealty and utility to Obama in any way possible.

But some who know Kerry say that people are missing the real story. Unable to become the most powerful man in the world, they say, Kerry has turned his focus on being the most effective senator he can be as Ted Kennedy did, after losing in his own presidential bid 30 years ago. In this view, volunteering for the debt committee falls right in line with other big tasks Kerry has taken on of late, trying to save the planet from everything from global warming to nuclear proliferation.


But while most of America and much of Massachusetts continues to chuckle at Kerry's foibles and quirks, he has emerged in Washington as an old-fashioned statesman.

"I think he's in his prime," says Thomas Quinn, veteran lobbyist with Venable in Washington, and once part of Ted Kennedy's campaign team. "Only three or four other senators have as strong a grasp of the issues and can articulate them as clearly."


Yet Kerry is not only avoiding taking sides among the Democrats (one of whom, Setti Warren, is a former aide of his), he is pledging to stay above the fray until after the September 2012 primary a full year of keeping his powder dry.

"It's very important that I work with Scott Brown" and other Republicans, he says. "My job is to focus on my work here in Washington."

An admirable, high-minded thought. But it may very well help lead to the unreasonable, low-minded Republicans taking over the Senate. If there's one thing less relevant than a statesman in today's Senate, it would be a statesman in a Senate where the know-nothings are in charge.

Read more:

The latest puzzles me. If Kerry is so unliked in MA, why would campaigning against Brown be useful?
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Luftmensch067 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-22-11 06:43 AM
Response to Original message
1. Mass and I posted about this simultaneously
I'll append my post here and self-delete:
Mostly positive piece on JK in today's Boston Phoenix

That willingness to keep trying, his earnestness and intensity, are just an inherent part of Kerry's character, say those who know him. It dates to his upbringing his father was a foreign-service officer, his mother served as a wartime nurse and, of course, his Vietnam career.

It helps explain why he keeps volunteering, and why he increasingly gets called on. Not only is he virtually immune from re-election worries after dispatching William Weld by eight points in 1996, he has gone essentially unchallenged but he is willing, when he thinks it's necessary, to look to the greater good over personal interest.

Read more:

This article is full of the usual memes: JK only wants SoS, he is "self-important", he sabotages himself with "mistakes" (cue the usual Boston Herald-spawened idiocies about the yacht, the fire hydrant, etc.) I don't know anything about Bernstein, the writer, but any journalist writing about JK seems to instantly turn into a schizophrenic: all the direct JK quotes in the article are reasonable and clear, but the frames are absolutely psycho! See what you think...
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Inuca Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-22-11 06:56 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. The fire hydrant?
I missed that one (and probably do not want to hear it either).
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-22-11 08:03 AM
Response to Original message
3. My take was very similar to yours
Edited on Thu Sep-22-11 08:09 AM by karynnj
First off - it is NEVER to late to be a statesman. Now more than ever we need statesman and find too few of them. Second, it implies that he is only now a statesman - yet in his examples, he mentions his testimony against the Vietnam War. Kerry has been a statesman since the 1970s. It may well be that American society has devalued statesmanship, diplomatic personalities and even manners - on both sides of the political divide for decades.

In addition, I was struck by a huge contradiction. EVERY politician works to create an image that he is totally sincere and there is a huge amount of at least partially fake earnestness. (Think Edwards and Clinton on our side.) Here, he argues that Kerry's problem is that he really is earnest. Kerry IS what many only pretend to be.

As to campaigning against Brown, I think that they make too much an issue of this. Looking at the appearances that Obama made for people up for reelection, it is clear that the amount that even a well liked partisan can do for a candidate is limited. Consider that the revered Ted Kennedy could not prevent MA from having a string of Republican governors. I do not doubt that Kerry will fund raise for the Democratic nominee.

I wonder if Kerry, not OVERTLY campaigning against Brown until September, is not an excellent strategy for the Democrats. It puts Kerry in a statesman role which he has earned. It might also increase Kerry's credibility when he does help make the case for the Democrat after September.

Meanwhile, it increases the contrast between a serious Senator and a guy, still over his head, who might finally be called on his missteps. Kerry seems very likely to continue his town halls and to reach out to MA constituents - as part of doing his own job. The fact that Kerry did 5 open town halls really gave weight to complaints that Brown did not do any.

Ultimately the choice will come down to Brown and the Democrat nominated. The impact of Kerry campaigning - even in the fall will be pretty minimal. As seen when Coakley was the candidate, Obama, Clinton, and Kerry (out campaigning a week after hip surgery) can not generate excitement for a candidate who is not generating herself.
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YvonneCa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-22-11 12:56 PM
Response to Original message
4. I haven't yet read the article...I will later today...
Edited on Thu Sep-22-11 12:57 PM by YvonneCa
...but I have to respond to the picture caption NOW. "THE IMPOTENCE OF BEING EARNEST Are Kerrys strengths bipartisanship, compromise, honest debate relevant in the Tea Partys America?"

His strengths are about the ONLY the 'Tea Party's America'...that can save us. The ONLY thing.

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