The Blog

Rich Man, Poor Man

Howard Dean struggles to get up from the canvas, Wesley Clark talks sense, and John Kerry gets in touch with his roots.

1:15 AM, Jan 22, 2004 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
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It's a thoughtful, articulate speech and it is matched in quality by the questions from students. "How would you deal with Ayatollah Sistani and his apparent veto power over anything that President Bush--or you--would attempt to do in Iraq?" asks one. "Do you think diplomacy is enough to deal with Fidel Castro and his influences in South America?" inquires another.

The professors at UNH must be doing something right.

6:30 P.M., Exeter: Earlier today in Nashua, John Kerry tested a populist stance, saying, "This election is not just about which candidate wins, but about whether we will win the fight to put opportunity and security in the hands of the many and not the few." Tonight he's at The Philips Exeter Academy in an auditorium with rich crimson carpeting, ornate moldings and pediments, dozens of formal portraits in big, gilded frames, and 1,500 adoring fans.

Founded in 1781, Exeter is the most prestigious boarding school in America and one of the most expensive, too--a year at Exeter costs more than a year at most private universities. In other words, tonight John Kerry is among "the few." He looks comfortable.

As he should. Kerry begins by reminding the audience that, while his father and daughter went to Andover, and he's a St. Paul's man himself, his wife and chief of staff are both Exeter graduates, so really, everyone here is on the same side. He laughs. The audience laughs with him.

Gazing down from their portraits, Harlan Page ("The Seventh Principal of The Philips Exeter Academy, 1895 - 1913") and Sanford Sidney Smith ("President of the Board of Trustees, 1903 - 1920") must surely be comforted.

Kerry's populist appeal should, perhaps, be put on hold.

Jonathan V. Last is online editor of The Weekly Standard.