Monday, January 26, 2004

According to John Ellis 85% of veteran pundits despise Kerry. And who am I to doubt the word of an officially sanctioned Gatekeeper? This does beg the question though... do they dislike Kerry because of his character faults, or do they see character faults that don't exist (or at least exaggerate them) because they dislike him?

Well, here's a little case study to examine the issue.

Mickey Kaus (and we know which side of that 85% divide HE stands on) paints Kerry as an opportunistic hypocrite every chance he gets. As recently as Sunday the 25th he referred to 'the affirmative action cave', one of the big skeletons supposedly lurking in Kerry's closet that Karl Rove is salivating over the chance to use. (Ellis has a more detailed explanation here.)

According to Ellis, Kerry gave a policy speech to 'reposition' his stance on affirmative action. Ellis- "...predictably, various liberal interest groups squawked. Within days, Kerry basically recanted everything he just said. It was, and there is no other word for it, pathetic." Notice that there is no actual evidence presented of this, just Ellis' recollection (which is inaccurate in at least one detail, as the speech was given in 1992 not 1990).

Now let's see what Google has to show us. Here's FAIR's account of the speech, for instance. Using (shocking!) actual quotes from the speech we find that Kerry said, "I want to be clear here. I do support affirmative action, not rhetorically but really" as well as saying that the policy has "made our country a better, fairer place to live". His criticisms, according to FAIR, were of the public perception that affirmative action was reverse racism, that its effects had been "exaggerated and exploited by politicians eager to use it" and, citing a survey showing that some white Americans felt more discriminated against than minorities, he called on Congress "to correct whatever false data or preconceptions have fed the belief that is evidenced in this poll."

Well, what does FAIR know anyway? Bunch of Commie subversives they are, making a living attacking the unimpeachable credibility of the New York Times... umm....

The Boston Globe has a different take. They portray the speech as the first of a series intended to launch an initiative tackling problems of race, crime and urban decay. The speech warned of the costs of a "culture of dependency. . . . We must ask whether [social disintegration] is the result of a massive shift in the psychology of our nation that some argue grew out of the excesses of the 1960s, a shift from self-reliance to indulgence and dependence, from caring to self-indulgence, from public accountability to public abdication and chaos," according to the Globe. "The truth is that affirmative action has kept America thinking in racial terms," Kerry is quoted, something that alienated whites.

I can only assume that Kerry was then calling for a return to self-reliance, caring and public accountability. It seems that the subtext of the speech was, if anything, directed at the civil rights movement itself, a warning not to get caught up in arguments about quotas (terrain where the opposition could make political coin) and to focus on a bigger picture. Notice the reference to public accountability and public abdication -- phrases that would seem to take aim at the use of the policy as a dodge to avoid dealing with the underlying problems that make affirmative action necessary.

What exactly, out of that, would need to be recanted I wonder? (Not that any examples of recanting were offered by Ellis.)

Or was it Kerry's subsequent refusal to go along with the media interpretation of his position (see the FAIR link for that) which earned him his 'pathetic' rep?

Of course there are plenty of other incidents that get used as ammo by Kerry-slaggers. I mean surely their opinion can't be based on just one thing. That would just be silly.

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