The Day After the Day After

A few thoughts on November 2 and the end of this unsporting season:

John Kerry: Nice concession speech – it didn’t reach the soaring rhetoric of Al Gore’s concession, but it was decent and proper, and I think the entire nation heaved a collective sigh of relief to know that it would not be dragged through another post-election debacle as in 2000. I personally believe that Senator Kerry may actually be relieved to have lost this bid for the Oval Office, for two reasons. The first is because being president is hard work, it’s not merely a job, but an office, and I mean that in the highest sense, in the sense that one is a president 24/7, as one is a priest or a pope every minute of their lives. A senator has down time, time when he’s just a man. Kerry’s attendance record in the senate, and his deplorably small output of actual work showing decisive stands on issues suggests that he’s not really into working all that hard. And that’s fine – if the people of Massachsetts like it, who am I to complain?

The second – and more compelling – reason I think Kerry is happy to go back to the Senate is because if he does, he gets to keep his mythology, the mythology of Lt. John Kerry, upon which he has built his whole life.

When the SwiftBoat Vets released the book, Unfit for Command, Kerry (frighteningly, considering he was running for President) looked into how it might be suppressed. He stopped talking to the press because he didn’t want to answer the charges in the book, even as the press was doing its best to ignore the book from their end. When the film Stolen Honor was to be released, Kerry again sought to have the film suppressed. Clearly, Kerry wants his mythology to be clean, heroic and uncomplicated. Every indication is that his military service and his actions afterward, including those trips to Paris where he met with the enemy, were anything but uncomplicated.

The Swift Boat Vets would never have dropped their quest to get him to sign the standard form 180 and release all of his military records. They wanted an apology for his testimony in the 1970′s. They wanted an accounting from him of his actions, they wanted the release of all of his military records, and while they were content to let him have his mythology if he remained SENATOR, these veterans were not going to let PRESIDENT Kerry, leader of the free world, call them liars. Sooner or later the questions about the status of his original discharge, his mental fitness and other issues would have been answered, possibly through leaks, and Kerry would have had to, finally, speak up. When you have spent your entire adult life standing up on a shaky foundation, you don’t want it rocked, and the SwiftBoat Vets were rocking. I really, really do believe that John Kerry will be content to return to the Senate, to become the eventual “old lion” from Massachusetts when and if Ted Kennedy ever retires, to write a few books, remain a “defeated but honorable” hero of the left, and to die with the whole mythology intact. And I can’t say I blame him.

Teresa Heinz Kerry: I believe Mrs. Kerry will be quite content away from the cameras and scrutiny of being a very public First Lady. I don’t blame her, either.

John Edwards: Throughout the campaign I kept thinking the man was a silky-haired, cute-as-a-button, perfect little monster and his “concession” speech only proved me right. Ungracious, rhetorically empty, all-red-meat crap from start to finish. I recall that Edwards had been hailed as a “new Clinton” but I have never seen it. Where Clinton had a genius for empathy, Edwards has only grab-you-by-the-throat-and-make-you-shudder lawyer skills. As he couldn’t even deliver his own district to the Kerry campaign, and since he failed to grip – in any way – the imagination of the American electorate, I think it’s safe to say we’ve seen his last political campaign. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen the last of him. Because he is photogenic, Edwards will eventually spend entirely too much time on television, gassing on every subject that comes along, probably on a cable network. Ugh. Elizabeth Edwards just found out she has breast cancer, so I have nothing to say about her except God bless her and I wish her a full recovery.

Dick Cheney: Will he still be veep in two years, or will the team retire him and set up the next presidential candidate? Rudy? Should be fun to watch.

The Democrats: Sadly, it seems the Democrats, and their minions in the press, failed to grasp what has happened with this election. The Democrat party is broken and in badly need of repair, and yet they (believing they still hold all the cards because they hold the mainstream media) believe they can tell the president what he should do, how he should reach out to them, etc. Sorry. Bush has a solid victory and a mandate. The Democrats have to reach across the aisle and make nice – at least a little, and then they’re going to have to try some introspection on for size. They need to look honestly at themselves, at why they have fallen so far out of touch with the mainstream. They can’t get away with telling the America that just sent nearly 60 million votes Bush’s way that it is an America hijacked by its own bigotry, homophobia, obtuse-ness, lack of sophistication or whatever they’d like to say – and they’re already trying to say it. As in this NY Times article by Joseph Berger, they’re already telling America that it is stupid, that it has been tricked. Consider this snippet of this unbelievably embarrassing article:

“I’m saddened by what I feel is the obtuseness and shortsightedness of a good part of the country – the heartland,” Dr. Joseph said. “This kind of redneck, shoot-from-the-hip mentality and a very concrete interpretation of religion is prevalent in Bush country – in the heartland.”
“New Yorkers are more sophisticated and at a level of consciousness where we realize we have to think of globalization, of one mankind, that what’s going to injure masses of people is not good for us,” he said.
His friend, Ms. Cohn, a native of Wisconsin who deals in art, contended that New Yorkers were not as fooled by Mr. Bush’s statements as other Americans might be. “New Yorkers are savvy,” she said. “We have street smarts. Whereas people in the Midwest are more influenced by what their friends say.”

Egad. As a New Yorker, I find these bigoted, narrow-minded people and their prejudices and their snobbery so terribly mortifying. Obtuse? Savvy? Sophisticated? Democrats really have to stop talking down to people and find a few mirrors and take a few good long looks. President Bush took only 16% of the vote in the Bronx and Manhattan, but he garnered 40% in the state in general, and many of those votes came from those obtuse, stupid, Bush-loving firefighters and first-responders – you know, the people who these stuck-up elitists rely upon even as they mock their grammar. Firefighters, cops, first-responders – they lack nuance, they’re unsophisticated, th
ey don’t speak English like Ivy League scholars…but in war they are the folks you need before you need another writer, another dress designer, another psychologist, another art dealer, another dog-walker, another lawyer. I have nothing against writers, (I am one) or designers, or dealers, or psychologists, or dog walkers…or even lawyers, but they are peripheral in times of war, and we are at war – whether these people like it or not. And in war, we need a president who talks the language of First Responders, not dinner-party chatterboxes.

If they continue to harbor this disdain for a huge portion of the nation, if they continue to live in their insulated little intellectual ghettos, working and socializing only with those who think precisely as they think, they are doomed to one defeat after another. St. Paul desolately proclaimed, “All that I hate, I am become!” The Democrats (and let me be specific here, not the rank-and-file Democrats but their leadership – the ESTABLISHMENT) have become what every Establishment becomes: bloated, top-heavy with self-indulgence, complacency and a smug assurance that they are too-too right. As happened to St. Paul, they have become precisely the small-minded bigots, lacking vision or tolerance, they used to claim to hate.

UPDATE: Greg Djerejian over at Belgravia Dispatch brings some evidence that no, the press does not understand what has happened, as he points out Adam Nagourney’s rank dishonesty. Nagourney abuses his privileges by essentially telling his readers that John Kerry conceded to George W. Bush because of Bush’s substantial popular vote numbers, ignoring completely Kerry’s clear (and constitutionally right) concerns as to whether Ohio could properly be won. Read Greg’s post, where he quotes Nagourney and then brings out Kerry’s exact words. The NY Times’ insists on playing fast and loose with reality and the truth. It’s habitual, it seems. And insidious.

About Elizabeth Scalia