The Magazine

Kerry Loves the Mainstream Media

From the March 21, 2005 issue: . . . And has contempt for the American people.

Mar 21, 2005, Vol. 10, No. 25 • By P.J. O'ROURKE
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JOHN KERRY EFFECTIVELY ENDED HIS political career on February 28, 2005, during a little-noticed event at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston. Senator Kerry was being presented with the library's "Distinguished American Award"--a bust of John Kennedy. The artist had portrayed JFK with head slightly tilted. The bust looked puzzled. The award was presented by Senator Ted Kennedy, who phoned it in. Supposedly Kennedy was rushing to catch the "last plane out of Logan" to get to Washington for a vital debate on bankruptcy reform legislation. Why the other senator from Massachusetts wasn't vital was not explained. Nor was it explained why any Democrat was vital to a debate on legislation that was simply to be passed by the Republican majority and signed by the Republican president.

Paul Kirk, chairman of the Kennedy library, former Ted Kennedy staffer, and head of the DNC back when Kennedys mattered, introduced Kennedy's disembodied voice. Kennedy praised Kerry's "passion for the value of politics" and "practice of the politics of values." (Where is Ted Sorenson when you need him?) Kennedy did his best to laud Kerry's thin legislative record: "a key voice on arms control." He added, "I can't wait for Kerry in oh-eight" and suggested this as a bumpersticker.

The rest of the evening was devoted to "A Conversation with Senator John F. Kerry." Acting as interlocutor was Boston Globe columnist Thomas Oliphant, who simpered and fidgeted and compared Kerry to Adlai Stevenson.

Addressing the audience of tame Democrats, Kerry explained his defeat. "There has been," he said, "a profound and negative change in the relationship of America's media with the American people. . . . If 77 percent of the people who voted for George Bush on Election Day believed weapons of mass destruction had been found in Iraq--as they did--and 77 percent of the people who voted for him believed that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11--as they did--then something has happened in the way in which we are talking to each other and who is arbitrating the truth in American politics. . . . When fear is dominating the discussion and when there are false choices presented and there is no arbitrator, we have a problem."

America is not doctrinaire. It's hard for an American politician to come up with an ideological position that is permanently unforgivable. Henry Wallace never quite managed, or George Wallace either. But Kerry's done it. American free speech needs to be submitted to arbitration because Americans aren't smart enough to have a First Amendment, and you can tell this is so, because Americans weren't smart enough to vote for John Kerry.

"We learned," Kerry continued, "that the mainstream media, over the course of the last year, did a pretty good job of discerning. But there's a subculture and a sub-media that talks and keeps things going for entertainment purposes rather than for the flow of information. And that has a profound impact and undermines what we call the mainstream media of the country. And so the decision-making ability of the American electorate has been profoundly impacted as a consequence of that. The question is, what are we going to do about it?"

Kerry is hilariously bad as a demagogue. A low subculture and its inferior sub-media are thwarting the will of the sacred mainstream? His small sparks of malice were blurred by vast, damp clouds of Kerry-fog--murky budget critiques, hazy pronouncements on Social Security and health care, foreign policy vaporings, leaden anecdotes, and an obscure protest that 45 percent of West Virginians lack sewer hook-ups. Kerry was led back to the main point by a question from the audience: "How [do we] stop the media from creating and perpetuating the divisive red state/blue state situation?"