Thursday, September 30, 2004



Is it over? My God, how could the non-political junkies have possibly stayed awake for the duration of this Chinese water torture of a debate?

Because I only have a few precious moments of consciousness left, benumbed as I am by this thing, I must be brief. Kerry performed better than he has at any point during the campaign He was more concise, forceful, and appealing than he has ever been before. And he still stunk. There’s no getting around it; he’s just a tremendously unappealing figure.

The President was himself – forceful, “surprisingly” glib and equipped with the facts, also “surprisingly” coherent. Bush continues to be a pitiful excuse for a moron.

Since the TV is now off, I don’t know what the talking heads are saying, but I imagine it’s something like this: No one made a huge gaffe, the second half of the debate was like watching a really drab color of paint dry, Kerry was better than he had been, and Bush did pretty well, too. They’re probably extolling the high minded nature of the debate. They’re no doubt observing that both men comported themselves civilly which given this hostile campaign season may have come as a surprise although it shouldn’t have. In other words, they’ll conclude, nothing really changed with tonight’s debate.

That’s wrong. Tonight was the first lengthy exposure to Senator Kerry for much of America. Senator Kerry invaded America’s living rooms for 90 minutes this evening, and it felt like a lot longer that. All that negativity, all that scolding, and those reaction shots with his big chin rising majestically in the air - you, my friends, have grown numb to such things. The rest of America has not.

So in the coming days Bush will continue his surge in the polls, and an inexplicable surge it will be since the debate was allegedly a duller than dishwater tie. By next Friday the Kerry campaign will have a true sense of desperation.

Hopefully that will make for a debate livelier than tonight’s.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight


I sense your frustration. It’s the big day of the debate and I’ve left you high and dry. Believe me, it wasn’t my idea. I prepared a great essay for you this morning on everything that Kerry has to accomplish this evening. When I went to post it, my laptop did the high-tech version of exploding. Error messages everywhere, nothing working.

Unfortunately I had to dash out to the doctor’s office to do my award winning pin-cushion impersonation so I wasn’t able to tend to the laptop restoration project until around noon. Since that time, I’ve been on the phone with a wonderful young man in New Delhi; seriously he’s highly competent and we’ve both enjoyed exchanging Boston and New Delhi factoids. Did you know they learn about the Boston Tea Party in New Delhi? Anyway, I’ve never been a Lou Dobbs type when it comes to outsourcing – outsourcing is the rational self interested profit maximizing corporation’s response to a series of asinine government provided incentives. In other words, it’s the symptom, not the disease.

But I digress; we’ll come back to outsourcing another day. Anyway, my laptop’s a goner so the ancient desktop with its dial-up AOL account has been pressed into duty like a wounded Kirk Gibson stepping up to the plate to face Dennis Eckersley.

I had an ambitious posting schedule planned for today. The Kerry post was going to be followed by a post describing what Bush has to do; that entry was going to be followed later in the afternoon by a series of predictions. Because I just got off the phone with New Delhi and I want to get this to those of you on the east coast before the work day is done, the day’s output will be compacted into the next few paragraphs.

Kerry has to realize that people feel about Bush how they feel about Bush. There’s nothing that Kerry can say tonight that will change many people’s minds about the President. But he can perhaps change some minds about himself.

People don’t like Kerry - his positive ratings are stuck in the 30’s, something that’s unprecedented for a challenger. A majority of Americans right now view Kerry as the kind of guy who betrays his comrades and sells out his principles. Whether those feelings are accurate or not, it’s undeniable that the voters hold him in low esteem. If he can somehow come across as a good guy, the kind of guy that wouldn’t do those awful things the Swifties and the Republicans accuse him of, he’ll take some giant steps tonight.

My advice for Bush is more succinct and more colorful – don’t fuck up. Don’t say Poland isn’t under Communist control or sigh loudly or appear indifferent to your wife’s potential rape and murder. In other words, try to avoid the kind of blunder that makes the history books.

The challenge for Bush is of course an easier one to meet. I’ll be holding my breath from 9:00 to 10:30 tonight but I’m not really sure that’s necessary. The talk is that Kerry’s the good closer, but Bush is the one who’s lived up to every big moment in his political career.

Kerry’s task is far tougher because frankly Kerry isn’t a very likable guy. All that finger wagging and scolding may knock ‘em dead in, well, it doesn’t knock ‘em dead anywhere. Nobody responds to that stuff.

But, in the interest of fairness, I must point out the following: I’ve had great fun sharing stories with you these last few months about Bostonians who have had close encounters with the Kerry Magic. To balance out the scales, I should mention that I know someone who I trust completely who has gotten to know the Senator quite well in informal settings; this person is quite close with one of Kerry’s stepsons and so his/her contacts with the Senator have been personal in nature. This individual swears that Kerry is a warm and wonderful guy.

If such a Kerry does exist, this would be a good time for him to introduce himself to the nation. My prediction: It ain’t gonna happen. Like I said a couple of days ago, Kerry is the Titanic and these debates are the iceberg.

We’ll see if I’m right. Check back about a half hour after the debate and I’ll have posted my analysis. I can’t promise it will be as insightful and impartial as Dan Rather’s, but I’ll give it my best.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight

Wednesday, September 29, 2004


I’ll post a formal debate preview sometime tomorrow afternoon, but for now one sneak preview prediction: Senator Kerry will mention several times that he is proposing something that has the full support of John McCain.

What is it about McCain? Do the Kerry focus groups really show such swing voter reverence for the Arizonan that the mere mention of his name causes widespread swooning amongst the undecided? Can that possibly be the case?

Kerry’s habit of serially mentioning McCain suggests tons of swing voters out there are desperately trying to divine John McCain’s true feelings: “Gosh, I know he likes Kerry and he probably really doesn’t like Bush, but he’s endorsed Bush and campaigned with Bush enthusiastically. But he did that Vietnam thing with Kerry and calls him a close friend. I’m flummoxed!!! Whoever should I vote for???”

Can any voter in America really be having such an interior dialogue? The Kerry campaign’s answer seems to be yes, and that those having such conversations with themselves are in fact legion.

They can’t possibly be correct. Can they?

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight


2000 was the first presidential election of my conscious life that the Republican won by anything other than a landslide. It would have been tough to protest McGovern’s or Mondale’s shellacking by fabricating a few bogus incidents of voter intimidation. The 2000 election, on the other hand, was close enough that any little thing could have shifted the election to the Democrats’ large orange nominee. With that election having been so close, the Democrats’ protest over the election’s legitimacy made at least a modicum of sense.

Of course most of the country moved past Florida relatively quickly. Virtually everyone was over it on about, say September 12, 2001. But the most partisan Democrats became hooked on this legitimacy beef. It was fun, and suggested a high ground that the losing party tends not to occupy.

Many present day Democrats sense that they’re on the precipice of an electoral calamity. There’s a real fear amongst the party’s faithful that this time around, it won’t be close. And that would be a shame for them, because the “illegitimate” thing has been just so much damn fun. So the challenge confronts them: How do we discredit the 2004 results when they may not be particularly competitive?

I think Derrick Jackson’s column (which I wrote about earlier today) suggested the theme that will carry the day: The people are stupid. Bush will win only because the vast majority of stupid people will vote for him. The forces of enlightenment like Michael Moore and Dan Rather rightly finger Bush as the bizarre Texas boob/Machiavellian genius/Trampler of human decency that he so obviously is. Unfortunately, most of the country is too busy spilling their pork rinds on the passenger seats of their SUVS while on their way to NASCAR races to see that the administration, according to Bruce Springsteen’s brilliant phrasing, is both “a hall of mirrors and a house of cards.”

So if only stupid people vote for Bush, can his victory truly be legitimate? If not a single New York Times Editorial Board member or Arthur Miller acquaintance pulls the switch for Bush, can he really be President of all the people? Even if Bush wins 55-45, by this logic he will still be an illegitimate president.

If you’re a once again disappointed fiercely partisan Democrat, that’s the way it should be.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight


I’ve never written about this here, but once long ago I actually ran for office. As a freshly minted law school graduate with dim employment prospects, I decided it was the perfect time to put myself before the electorate and become a state representative. I was running from a district that enthusiastically supported Barney Frank so I wasn’t exactly politically simpatico with many of my district’s voters, but dammit, I tried.

A big part of my effort was campaigning door to door. In the three months leading up to the election, I called on about 8,000 of the houses in my district and met the voters there face to face. I was a snotty 25 year old Ivy League grad, so what I found in my largely middle class district surprised me – most of the voters really knew what they were talking about. Their lives weren’t about politics (like mine was) so they let their Aldermen worry about the potholes, their state reps worry about the roadways, and their congressmen worry about the super-colliders. But on the big issues they knew where they stood and they would before Election Day find out where they should rightly cast their votes. That’s why I lost. I was way too conservative for the district I sought to represent. But my takeaway from meeting all these strangers in this unique capacity was (and remains), Americans are sharp and decent and big-hearted.

Try telling that to Derrick Z. Jackson, though. The nation’s most reliably obtuse columnist writes today in the Boston Globe that America is a nation of selfish jerks. Don’t believe me? Take it from Derrick himself:

“But almost everything about our lifestyles, from our obesity epidemic to our homes, reeks of not giving one whit about being only 4 percent of the planet's population yet creating a quarter of the greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. Even though the size of the American family has shrunk over the last half-century, the size of the average American home has more than doubled, with a single home in the suburbs loaded with more technology than whole villages in the developing world…Hummers, Caddys, and Disney World. That's America.”

Now Jackson is of course a liberal as he will proudly tell you. He will also proudly tell you that he champions the little guy and his little guy concerns and his little guy worries. But in today’s column Jackson tips his hand and tells us what he really thinks of the little guy and his country – they both suck.

Such is the hypocrisy at the core of modern liberalism. Old time liberalism used to believe in the decency and industry of ordinary Americans. Much of modern liberalism believes that ordinary Americans are fat schmucks.

Guys like Jackson and Thomas Frank in the current left-wing best seller “What’s The Matter With Kansas” wonder why the average non-rich American has deserted their champions in the Democratic party for the party of the rich (the Republicans). They never realize that maybe, just maybe, the losers they aim to help may actually detect the condescension and loathing that is so much a part of their putative champions’ world view.

So, tell me again, who are the schmucks?

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight

Tuesday, September 28, 2004


In the spirit of Philip Roth and Arthur Miller, Bruce Springsteen has opted to opine on the presidential campaign. As was the case with Miller and Roth, from an intellectual vantage point the results aren’t pretty.

Reporting on this does not gladden me. I’m a huge Bruce fan, always have been. If any of you out there know Major Peter Meinhart, just ask him how annoying I was in high school with my constant playing of Bruce albums and my refusal to consider the then newer and fresher U2.

And how has Bruce repaid my loyalty? By chiming in for the Kerry campaign in an almost remarkably nitwitted manner.

A few examples:

1) When asked by his interviewer (the reliably obsequious Jann Wenner, publisher of Rolling Stone Magazine) if the “press is leading us away from a fair and objective reading of this election” Bruce responds by extolling the honesty of Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11.” Oddly enough, Dan Rather didn’t come up.

2) In response to the question, “Do you think there is a climate of trying to intimidate artists and creative people?” Bruce offers that “People are always trying to shut up the people they don't agree with -- through any means necessary, usually.” Strangely, he offers no evidence to support this assertion.

3) Lastly, the rocker offers the Democratic nominee the following advice: “Senator Kerry has to make people pay attention to the man behind the curtain. He has to take the risk and rip the veil off the administration's deceptions. They are a hall of mirrors and a house of cards.” Unwittingly, I think, Bruce has stumbled upon what the Kerry campaign really needs – more mixed metaphors!

By the way, a special commendation (or a tip of the glass as the great MartiniPundit would put it) goes to interviewer Wenner for Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame caliber ass-kissing. How’s this for fawning: “Because you scrupulously avoided commercial use of your music, you built a reputation for integrity and conscience.”

Yes, scrupulously avoided commercial use. That’s why Bruce gave away all those concerts for free and is now virtually penniless. Don’t get me wrong – I have nothing against Bruce making a buck nor do I resent helping him make several of those bucks. But a starving artist he ain’t.

As a matter of fact, I wish he would return to making bucks and leave the political commentary to people who are really good at it.

Like that nice Alan Colmes.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight


I know a young man who’s an associate at one of New York’s finest law firms. He began a leave of absence a short while ago to serve John Kerry. For him, no doubt, the Kerry campaign was a ship of dreams filled with boundless possibilities, not unlike a certain ill-fated unsinkable ocean liner. He’s probably met some interesting people and maybe they even wore tuxedos to dinner, this being the campaign of a billionaire. For all I know, this young man may have even enjoyed relations with Kate Winslet on the trail. He is, after all, not without charm. But here’s the bad news – the Kerry campaign is the Titanic and Thursday’s debate is the iceberg.

Believe it or not, a lot of our friends and neighbors have still had only very limited exposure to John Kerry. Take this anecdote as illustrative: The Soxblog Brother called in from the road saying he was reading “Unfit for Command” on an airplane yesterday (he’s a good kid, makes me proud). The woman sitting next to him was a nurse who lives in Minneapolis. She asked him what he was reading; she had never heard of the book or the controversy surrounding the book.

Most Americans still don’t know much about John Kerry. The problem for the Kerry campaign is the more they see, the less they like. Well, they’re going to see a full 90 minutes worth on Thursday night. They’ll see brows more furrowed than they’ve ever imagined possible. They’ll see so many obsequious smiles and so much haughty arrogance that they’ll think, “Yes, I heard he was French.” They’ll picture this guy returning into their living rooms every night for four years and offer a resounding “Ech!!”

So, for my young friend on the Kerry campaign, I offer the following advice: Begin sizing up pieces of driftwood now.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight


I need to amplify a point I made earlier in the day. Throughout this campaign, the Democrats’ A-Team (or what passes for a Democratic A-Team) has been missing in action. While the campaign has sorely needed a dash of Pelosi or a hint of Schumer, the Kedwards types have fed us a depressing diet of Carter, Kennedy, Harkin and Biden. We long for the spice of a Landrieu or even a dollop of HRC herself; instead we get the self righteous scolding of the great patriot Max Cleland.

Carter, Kennedy, Harkin, Biden and Cleland – these have been the five ranking surrogates of the Kerry campaign. Other than Biden, these guys are political corpses. Kennedy and Carter are national punch-lines. Harkin and Cleland lack the requisite fame for such an honor so they have to content themselves with being regional punch-lines.

Alone amongst these five, Biden has a future. However, he has foolishly opted to roll the dice on Kerry winning and becoming Kerry’s Secretary of State. That was a strategic move as wise as my providing generous financial support to the Kucinich campaign in exchange for a guarantee that I would be his Secretary of Peace.

But the other four? Man, calling them political corpses actually suggests a vibrancy they don’t possess. You want a crappy house built or third world potentate validated, call Carter. You want a drinking buddy, call Kennedy. You want to hear some bogus war stories, call Harkin. (I don’t know what you’d call Cleland for). But I can’t see these guys helping you win the White House.

Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their party. That means you, Carl Levin. Time for and your comb-over to get in the game.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight


"The only thing America has to fear is four more years of George Bush."

Senator Ted Kennedy, yesterday.

"A mushroom cloud over any American city is the ultimate nightmare, and the risk is all too real."

Senator Ted Kennedy, also yesterday.

Massachusetts is probably the only state where I could live and John Kerry would be my favorite Senator. Well, maybe Delaware also. Is it any wonder I’ve opted for the more hospitable political climate of Florida where the weirdo Senator is at least respectable?

I’ll be blunt: What the hell is wrong with the Kerry campaign using Ted Kennedy as its most visible surrogate? The man is the least popular politician in America. While this might shock many of my Boston neighbors, anywhere west of Cambridge Kennedy is a joke, known almost solely for his boozing and his womanizing and his assorted “mishaps.”

But if the campaign’s going to have Kennedy shill for Kerry, they at least should try to make him coherent. I know - no small task that, but this is the national political stage and Ted’s a little rusty facing actual competition.

Ted didn’t sound drunk yesterday and indeed, his late in life commitment to sobriety is to be commended. But if he wasn’t drunk, what excuse could there be for such rank foolishness? In one sentence, Kennedy excoriates Bush for his “stubborn ideology” and then in the next sentence he pounds Bush for being “the world record holder in flip-flops.” And in the sentence after that the Senator barked at one of his aides to bring him a whiskey sour.

Okay, I made that last part up, but there are reasons why the Kerry campaign is sinking faster than a Ted Kennedy driven Oldsmobile and yesterday’s speech spotlights them. Five weeks before the election, the Kerry campaign still doesn’t know what it wants to say and thus can’t even speak logically for 40 minutes. Is terrorism the risk or is George Bush the risk? And if Bush is the risk, is it because he’s too stubborn or because he lacks constancy? The two after all are mutually exclusive.

And what does it say about the Democratic Party that the A-Team at this stage of the campaign features the tainted Ted Kennedy, the war-hero Tom Harkin and the perennial lightweight Joe Biden? The Republicans counter these guys with Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, Bill Frist, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

It almost seems like the respectable Democrats fear being associated with the stench of defeat emanating from the Kerry campaign. Can you blame them? Hey, unlike John Kerry, no one ever accused Hilary of being dumb.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight

Monday, September 27, 2004


What would it be like to be John Kerry, to possess such charm and interpersonal savoir faire that people just want to pop you in the nose every time you open your mouth? In other words, what does it feel like to actually possess the Kerry Magic?

To John Kerry belongs a uniquely winning way that no one can really copy. But we can try!

That’s right, my friends. In the coming days I audaciously will attempt to ape the Kerry speech patterns in every day situations and see what it’s like to be John Kerry. It won’t be easy. As many of you know, I tend to favor short punchy sentences. I’m also pretty unambiguous about where I stand on things. These factors do not augur well for my body being a hospitable host for a transplant of the Kerry Magic.

But try I can, and try I must. Imagine if you will the following exchange between me and Mrs. Soxblog:

Mrs. Soxblog: Have you given any though to what we’re going to do with our houseguests this weekend and what we’ll serve at Saturday’s dinner party?

Me: While I’m under the impression, and I feel this quite strongly, and I’ve arrived at this conclusion after much thought, that this dinner party is the wrong idea on the wrong day of this weekend. We should have been reaching out to our houseguests to make sure that they were on board with our plans rather than unilaterally declare a dinner party and now we are going to be forced to go it alone because, my friends, you took your eye off the ball.

Mrs. Soxblog: What are you talking about?

Me: I thought you would say that, my friends, reverting to the politics of fear and smear and bringing out your old tactic of questioning my patriotism like you did to John McCain and the incredibly patriotic Max Cleland, and I won’t stand for it.

Mrs. Soxblog: I’m leaving, and put something on over that spandex, please.

My excitement for this experiment is building. I can’t wait until Mrs. Soxblog gets home. She’s going to love this!

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight


I’m currently involved in an internet discussion forum dedicated to improving the UN and making it more effective at forestalling disasters like Darfur and Rwanda. My general feelings towards the UN is negative, but before doing a lot of substantive posting I’ve been doing some frantic studying trying to get myself at least semi-literate on the UN in particular and widespread international alliances in general. The preliminary result of my research? The “international community” and “international co-operation” are dangerous myths, especially if you’re dealing with true matters of consequence where potentially millions of lives are at stake.

Just such a matter of consequence is now unrolling in slow motion in Iran. According to Henry Sokolski in today’s Wall Street Journal, the lunocracy is quite close to realizing its dream of having true mass murdering capabilities. Can Mohammed El Barradei and the IAEA stop this from happening? Can the international community which has had differing tolerance levels for nuclear proliferation (Jacques Chirac is practically the Crazy Eddie of the nuclear reactor industry) unite to deter Iran? Is deterring a hellbent-on-mayhem Iran even a possibility?

If you answered yes to all of these question, I respectfully disagree but I would still have a follow up: Are you so confident in those “yeses” that you’re willing to gamble your life on them being correct?

I'm not, so I’m proposing a new Bush Doctrine (or even if need be a Kerry Doctrine) that says America will not allow unfit governments to join the nuclear club. It’s bad enough that North Korea is out there; we can’t allow a nuclear armed Iran to be out there either.

I hear you asking, who decides which governments are unfit? We do, because we can’t allow the poor judgment of other nations to have final say or indeed any substantive say on such critical matters.

This is the question I’d really like to see debated Thursday: As President, will you allow Iran to gain nuclear capabilities? If not, will you use any American might necessary to prevent such a thing from happening?

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight


One man can make a difference.

A little over a week ago, Outdoor Life magazine asked John Kerry what his favorite gun was. Kerry responded, “My favorite gun is the M-16 that saved my life and that of my crew in Vietnam. I don’t own one of those now, but one of my reminders of my service is a Communist Chinese assault rifle.”

This struck reader Kevin O’Kelley as odd, and Kevin wrote in to Soxblog asking some pointed questions of the Senator:

1. How did you acquire this assault rifle? Is it an illegally imported, untraceable souvenir?

2. Is it a fully-automatic weapon or a semi-automatic?

3. Where is the gun now? Is it legal for it to be kept there?

4. How can you support a law that forbids other people owning a weapon that you already own?

While I never did a post on the topic, I did email Kevin back and tell him that it sure sounded like more “Christmas in Cambodia” nonsense (I actually used a more colorful term) to me. Kevin also sent his letter to Glenn Reynolds who posted it on Instapundit; as you know, Glenn gets a few more page views a day than Soxblog.

Shockingly, today brought Kevin his answer. The always reliable New York Times, America’s paper of record, published the Kerry campaign’s response to Kevin’s questions. “Senator John Kerry's campaign said yesterday that Mr. Kerry did not own a Chinese assault rifle, as he was quoted as saying in Outdoor Life magazine, but a single-bolt-action military rifle, blaming aides who filled out the magazine's questionnaire on his behalf for the error.”

Kerry blames his aides! The Times must have stopped the presses to report that one. You can buy this explanation, or read more into it regarding the Senator’s penchant for telling “war stories.”

My point of relaying this little anecdote is not to rehash the Senator’s military exploits or even to rehash his at times "colorful" rehashing of those exploits. My point is to once again underscore the twin beauties of the blogosphere. The first is that one man, in this case the heretofore anonymous Kevin O’Kelley, can make a difference.

And the other is that the truth will out.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight

Sunday, September 26, 2004


Some are pissed off – I’m not.

The New York Times Magazine today had a cover story on bloggers. Heralding the arrival of an important new reporting medium (in its characteristically timely manner), the Times hilariously focused almost exclusively on the mentally imbalanced author of the Daily Kos, Josh Marshall, and the hopelessly repulsive Wonkette. What do all three of these creatures have in common? Well one thing is that none of them have accomplished anything substantive like having a network anchor on the verge of electronic hari-kari. Another is that politically, they’re all simpatico with the New York Times.

This has offended almost all of my virtual buddies. The Allah Pundit is a deity if not enraged, at least a little irritated. Hugh Hewitt is spewing his wonderful version of highly sophisticated precisely aimed bile, and the great Ace of Spades is so mad he’s slicing like a f*****g hammer. Glenn Reynolds is taking the snub well, but he’s the Blogfather – you think penny-ante crap like this bothers him? The Times’ article is of course stupid but I don’t know why my pals are either angry or surprised.

I went through me archives – I’ve had at least ten posts whose sole topic was bashing the New York Times and exposing the fraudulent nature of its pose as objective journalism in action. In these posts, there have been two recurring themes: 1) The Times is no more objective than I am or any other ideological blog for that matter, and 2) The “logic” that goes into the some of the Times’ coverage is riotously lame. I’m hardly unique – many right wing bloggers (especially the not-quite-right-wing-but-we-love-him-anyway Mickey Kaus) have also had a blast at the Times’ expense.

So if the Times were to write an article favorably reflecting on Allah, Ace and Little Green Footballs, the Timesmen would show themselves to be both fair and insightful. Since we’ve always said they’re unfair and a little dense, the real surprise would have been an intelligent and honest article, no?

There’s one more thing. Since we all know that the Times is run by personalities as big and biased as those behind any blog and that the Times’ commitment to objective journalism is a long-dead myth, why should we expect them to come praise conservative bloggers after we’ve spent so much time burying them? Let’s face it, a lot of our stuff (especially mine and Mickey’s) has been pretty ad hominem in nature. Was expecting such bigness from the Grey Lady justified?

Naturally we all would have wanted some New York Times’ fawning sent our way. There’s a lingering sense that a New York Times’ imprimatur confers legitimacy on the recipient. Let’s at long last put that lingering sense out of its misery.

Better yet, let’s let the Times and the rest of the MSM do it for us with a couple of more Rathergates.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight


Pity poor John Edwards!

You all know I’m not a huge fan of North Carolina’s senior Senator, but I do admire his political talents. The guy can talk the buffalo off a nickel, or something like that.

The head of his ticket, though, well that’s another story. Kerry might well be able to bore that buffalo to death, but that’s the extent of his rhetorical gifts.

The New York Times today has a fascinating article about the Kerry/Edwards relationship that hints at some trouble in paradise for the political newlyweds. Quoth the Times, “Beneath the surface, the relationship appears more complicated and still evolving, with still some awkward moments. Aides use words like ‘better than I thought’ and ‘getting better’ to describe the relationship between Mr. Kerry and Mr. Edwards.”

I really feel badly for Edwards. He’s like a young rookie with all the talent in the world sitting on the bench while an aging veteran gets all the playing time and makes a hash of things. I’m serious – Kerry’s chronic stumbling simply has to be offending Edward’s eye for political aesthetics.

Take the following example. Edwards frequently uses the following risible though admittedly effective line on the stump: “Somewhere, some mom is worrying about how she's going to feed her children.”

Obviously fond of the sentiment, Kerry chose to co-opt it. But before doing so, he had to translate it into the obscure political patois henceforth known as Kerryese. “Right now, another factory worker just suffered the indignity of having lifelong loyalty rewarded with a pink slip and a final paycheck that won't cover his family's rent.” Notice how Kerry’s makeover lengthens the sentiment but fails to amplify it; instead, Kerry just waters it down to the point of meaninglessness.

Kerryese – get ready for it. Those of us paying attention the last several months have grown accustomed to it by now. But on Thursday, our friends and neighbors will have what might well be their first exposure to this distinctive dialect.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight


1) The ever insightful Roger writes in amplifying Arthur Miller’s quote, ''How can the polls be neck and neck when I don't know one Bush supporter?”

Regarding Arthur Miller's latest attempt to join the long line of liberals who have said things several times dumber than anything George Bush ever said on his worst day, maybe you should invite readers to submit their versions of what I'll call "the Miller theorem."

How could terrorists have killed 3,000 people when I don’t know one person who was killed by terrorists?

How could Paris Hilton be a woman of loose morals when I don’t know one person who has appeared in a raunchy sex video with her?

How could Arthur Miller be a great playwright when I’ve never stayed awake through one of his plays?

How could Philip Roth be a great novelist when I don't know one person who has ever finished any of his books?

Questions only Aristophanes could answer, I presume.

2) Reader Doc writes in exploring the real key issue of this campaign, Kerry’s alleged wearing of spandex:

How sure are you that Kerry's windsurfing outfit is spandex? Did he call it that or does it just look like that to you? The reason I ask is because I have a friend who windsurfs, but he wears a neoprene wet suit. Unless Kerry is windsurfing in the southern California latitudes or lower, he'd pretty much have to wear neoprene. And I'd think if it was warm enough that he didn't need a wet suit, he'd probably be wearing a Speedo. So maybe you should be thankful he's wearing neoprene.

3) My frequent sparring partner Jerry weighs in on with his diagnosis of what ails the Kerry campaign:

Kerry's campaign is incompetent because there are too many cooks in the kitchen, each sticking a thumb in the pudding. Teddy's crew didn't cut it so now Bill's crowd has elbowed in with Susan what's-her-name yelling from the window and Chris Matthews chiming in. Even if JFK was capable of making up his mind about anything, he's being pulled in a hundred different directions. Then there's his furrowed-brow gravitas that begins to get under the skin the more you see him. The race is slipping away from him.

4) And lastly, my friend and occasional golfing companion JD forwarded me this message by way of his friend Dan. It’s what Judge William Young said to shoe-bomber Richard Reid upon his sentencing last year. Some think this is an urban legend; according to and others, it isn’t. This is actually what Judge Young said in the courtroom on January 30, 2003. It's a little lengthy, but, trust me, it’s worth it:

Mr. Richard C. Reid, hearken now to the sentence the Court imposes upon you.

On counts 1, 5 and 6 the Court sentences you to life in prison in the custody of the United States Attorney General.

On counts 2, 3, 4 and 7, the Court sentences you to 20 years in prison on each count, the sentence on each count to run consecutive with the other. That's 80 years.

On count 8 the Court sentences you to the mandatory 30 years consecutive to the 80 years just imposed.

The Court imposes upon you each of the eight counts a fine of $250,000 for the aggregate fine of $2 million. The Court accepts the government's recommendation with respect to restitution and orders restitution in the amount of $298.17 to AndreBousquet and $5,784 to American Airlines. The Court imposes upon you the $800 special assessment.

The Court imposes upon you five years supervised release simply because the law requires it. But the life sentences are real life sentences so I need go no further. This is the sentence that is provided for by our statutes. It is a fair and just sentence. It is a righteous sentence.

Let me explain this to you. We are not afraid of you or any of your terrorist co-conspirators, Mr. Reid. We are Americans We have been through the fire before.

There is all too much war talk here. And I say that to everyone with the utmost respect. Here in this court, where we deal with individuals as individuals, and care for individuals as individuals. As human beings, we reach out for justice. You are not an enemy combatant. You are a terrorist. You are not a soldier in any war. You are a terrorist. To give you that reference, to call you a soldier, gives you far too much stature.

Whether it is the officers of government who do it or your attorney who does it, or that happens to be your view, you are a terrorist. And we do not negotiate with terrorists. We do not treat with terrorists. We do not sign documents with terrorists. We hunt them down one by one and bring them to justice. So war talk is way out of line in this court.

You are a big fellow. But you are not that big. You're no warrior. I know warriors. You are a terrorist. Aspecies of criminal guilty of multiple attempted murders. In a very real sense, State Trooper Santiago had it right when you first were taken offthat plane and into custody and you wondered where the press and where the TV crews were, and he said you're no big deal. You're no big deal.

What your counsel, what your able counsel and what the equally able United States attorneys have grappled with and what I have as honestly as I know how tried to grapple with, is why you did something so horrific. What was it that led you here to this courtroom today? I have listened respectfully to what you have to say. And I ask you to search your heart and ask yourself what
sort of unfathomable hate led you to do what you are guilty and admit you are guilty of doing.

And I have an answer for you. It may not satisfy you. But as I search this entire record, it comes as close to understanding as I know. It seems to me you hate the one thing that is most precious. You hate our freedom. Our individual freedom Our individual freedom to live as we choose, to come and go as we choose, to believe or not believe as we individually choose.

Here, in this society, the very winds carry freedom. They carry it everywhere from sea to shining sea. It is because we prize individual freedom so much that you are here in this beautiful courtroom. So that everyone can see, truly see that justice is administered fairly,individually, and discretely. It is for freedom's sake that your lawyers are striving so vigorously on your behalf and have filed appeals, will go on in their representation of you before other judges.

We are about it. Because we all know that the way we treat you, Mr. Reid, is the measure of our own liberties. Make no mistake though. It is yet true that we will bear any burden; pay any price, to preserve our freedoms.

Look around this courtroom. Mark it well. The world is not going to long remember what you or I say here. Day after tomorrow it will be forgotten. But this, however, will long endure. Here in
this courtroom and courtrooms all across America, the American people will gather to see that justice, individualjustice, justice, not war, individual justice is in fact being done. The very
President of the United States through his officers will have to come into courtrooms and lay out evidence on which specific matters can be judged, and juries of citizens will gather to sit and judge that evidence docratically, to mold and shape and refine our sense of justice.

See that flag, Mr. Reid? That's the flag of the United States of America. That flag will fly there long after this is all forgotten. That flag stands for freedom. You know it always will.

Mr. Custody Officer. Stand him down.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight

Friday, September 24, 2004

WEEKLY WRAP-UP 9-24-2004

1) ME MYSELF AND I - Part of John Kerry’s battle cry during his noteworthy Columbus address yesterday was the shrill pronouncement, “I want to win.” I don’t want to take the comment out of context – he was talking about Iraq. But seeing the quote televised even in context, it struck me as somewhat obvious what he really wants to win. Sure he wants to win in Iraq, but he REALLY wants to win this election.

Again, note the locution: “I want to win." In the history of leadership, has any leader ever referred to triumphing in a war in the first person? And in general, has there ever been a candidate for any office, let alone the Presidency, who has made such promiscuous use of the first person pronoun? I haven’t made a formal study of the matter, but I recall Bill Clinton talking about “our” plans; Kerry always talks about “my” plan. I bet if you compared ten hours worth of Kerry campaign speeches and appearances with the same amount of Bush appearances, you would find that Kerry uses me myself and/or I at least twice as often.

Kerry should be careful about this speech pattern. Some of us may conclude he’s a narcissist.

2) Speaking of which, I was delighted to see Kerry’s flowery spandex wind-surfing uniform re-appear this week. Some of you think this has become a fixation for me, to which I respond, “Guilty as charged!” Gratuitous use of spandex has long been a pet peeve of mine. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t come by these feelings out of prudery. I enjoy a shapely woman in spandex plenty, especially the lovely Mrs. Soxblog in her yoga get-up - Yeowww!!

But 60 year old men should not wear spandex, at least not in public. I will not debate this, so please no dissenting emails on the subject. Mrs. Soxblog and I have an acquaintance of about Kerry’s age (and who is a huge Kerry supporter, as a matter of fact) who wears invariably brightly colored spandex for his lengthy bike rides. Now this gentleman is in fine shape for a man of his years, but the sight of him in blinding chartreuse spandex is not esthetically pleasing. Trust me on this. To give him his due, he’s a serious cyclist but there’s no way the aeronautics could possibly be such a pressing concern for him that he couldn’t wear a pair of shorts over his spandex and thus spare the rest of us a frankly ghastly sight.

If the last paragraph has described any of my readers, please know it is not my intent to hurt your feelings. But aren’t you glad that you now know this is a problem and can take appropriate remedial action? Deep down, I know you are. You’ll thank me later.

3) Speaking of constructive criticism, one of my favorite readers is California Joe because he saves me from myself. In real professional writing, you have the benefit of having an extra set of eyes (often several) poring over your writings before they hit the outside world. A lot of writers don’t much care for the editing process, but one thing all writers appreciate is someone catching their typos and grammatical errors before they see a wider audience. When you blog, though, you fly solo and even guys like Hewitt and Andrew Sullivan make a batch of mistakes.

California Joe has become my de facto editor and I appreciate it. Joe has discovered to his increasing horror that homonyms are my Achilles’ Heal and I can tell he’s becoming frustrated by my inability to master some relatively simple things. When I make one of my stupid mistakes, Joe usually emails in with the correction. The problem here is, Joe’s a busy man and he doesn’t have all day to clean up my numerous messes. So if any of you see a typo or a grammatical error, let me know and I’ll be appreciative. When I start the Soxblog line of merchandise I’ll send you a free t-shirt as long as the Red Sox don’t sue me.

As an added encouragement, please know that a few weeks ago I tremblingly emailed the great Victor Davis Hanson to notify him of a grammatical blunder that recurred in his writings and he personally emailed me back with his gratitude.

4) Speaking of emails, I love receiving them and I respond to all of them. If you’ve sent an email and didn’t get a response, it’s because I was intending to respond at my next seating and forgot. Don’t take it personally; please write again.

Most of you are probably familiar with the great former blogger Steven den Beste. He gave up the blogging game because the emails he received pissed him off so much. He called them burdensome, and they ultimately became such a bother he walked away (or rather stalked away) from his enormously popular blog.

A lot of people wrote in to den Beste suggesting that he just stop reading his email. That suggestion just seemed to piss him off even more, although he never said why he would eschew such an easy and obvious solution. But I understood. If 50 people write in to me responding to a piece, I have to know what they’re saying. I couldn’t just hit the delete button; it would be physically impossible. I’m sure den Beste is the same way. And now that I’ve gotten in the habit of getting a lot of feedback and thus have certain knowledge that it’s out there, shutting down my mailbox would be practically the same thing as hitting the delete button.

Anyway, unlike den Beste, I don’t find your messages burdensome in the slightest. Sometimes when I get called on something stupid, it doesn’t feel good but I’d rather know about it than not. And I love when you write in to disagree (even you, Jerry). As many of you have found out, I love a little electronic dust-up and will be willing to engage our points of difference as long as you’re reasonably pleasant about it.

So please, keep the letters coming. We have another Soxblog Mailbag coming up this weekend and if you’ve got something to say, I strongly encourage you to make a submission. If you really want to see your name in lights, you’ll have better luck if you keep your submission to a reasonable length and don’t lard it with a lot of typos that I’ll have to correct.

Coming soon: My debate preview! You won’t want to miss it.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight


I just returned from my Boston area country club and I want to share with you a conversation I had because it’s typical of a dozen similar chats I’ve had the past six months. While going through my habitually lazy workout, I struck up a conversation with an acquaintance of mine, a 70 year old man who is part of Boston’s unofficial aristocracy.

Like most members of my club, this man is a liberal and has been one for decades. Naturally he doesn’t harbor much fondness for the President. “Despicable” and “moron” were two of the words he promiscuously deployed regarding that particular subject. This man has been heavily involved in a financial capacity in several recent Democratic campaigns including that misbegotten Gore endeavor in 2000. So I asked him, “Are you helping out the Kerry people?” Suddenly the fire left his eyes and a grim look overtook his face. “The problem is, I know John Kerry pretty well, have worked with him on a variety of issues over the past 20 years. And I REALLY don’t like him.”

In the past few months, I’ve written often of the Kerry Magic and I even started the Dukakisization craze that has swept the blogosphere. Hell, I even disparaged Kerry’s famously nuanced intellect. But while I’ve had my fun, I’ve always tried to be respectful. Although I don’t like it, there’s a real chance that John Kerry will be my next commander in chief and if he is he will have my loyalty. Thus, a modicum of respect is in order. The Clinton bashers embarrassed themselves throughout the 1990’s and Lumpy Riefenstahl and company have kicked the disgraceful behavior up a notch. I have no interest in joining their hall of shame. Problem is, John Kerry sometimes makes it very tough to be respectful.

It’s not just that he windsurfs or owns several multi-million dollar estates or threw a first pitch at Fenway Park that would have embarrassed an 8 year old girl. All those things are silly, but no worse than a president who stubbornly can’t seem to pronounce nuclear and who has yet to utter a spontaneous complete sentence during his time in office. In other words all politicians, like all people, have their foibles. For the rest of us, our foibles are mercifully only unleashed on our families and loved ones; for national politicians, their foibles are put under the media’s microscope and magnified to such an extent that the politician ultimately winds up looking silly.

But looking silly and actually being silly are the least of Kerry’s problems. Kerry’s big problem is that his ambition causes him to do some truly loathsome things. Yesterday’s Columbus firehouse address was simply amazing. I sat yesterday watching Kerry’s comments regarding Allawi and I honestly couldn’t believe it. Now, I’m not a Pollyanna when it comes to the Senator, but I could not believe that Kerry eagerly jabbed at our beleaguered ally who, regardless of how he got there, truly is on the front lines in the war on terror. And yet Senator Kerry’s comments about Allawi suggest the Prime Minister is mendacious and deceptive. Is this the kind of super-diplomacy that will win over the French and Germans?

But more problematically, I doubt Kerry even meant what he said about Allawi. Kerry’s latest campaign theme is “Vote for me because Iraq is a disaster.” He was only staying on message. I’m sure that’s what the foolishly consistent Clinton alums are telling him he has to do. So he wasn’t speaking out of conviction – he was just staying on message. The big question once again emerges – does he have any convictions?

You know, at times like this my mind always heads back to Clinton’s Sister Souljah speech. In that address, Clinton called out rap musicians on their home turf and showed the general populace he had character by dressing down some of his most ardent supporters. He also showed he could make some shrewd political calculations. There was no risk that these particular supporters would begin hosting Bush 41 yard signs any time soon.

I always wonder about the Sister Souljah speech - did Clinton mean it? Did he really care about rap music or did he just decide that here lay a political opportunity and he seized it. Either way it was okay, because the music he was condemning deserved opprobrium. Even if he was being opportunistic and perhaps amoral, in this instant he at least wasn’t being immoral.

What Kerry did yesterday was affirmatively immoral. He stabbed an ally in the back to forward his own interests. While I was surprised, I have a feeling John O’Neill and the Swift Boat veterans were not.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight

Thursday, September 23, 2004


A quick hit today on the astonishingly lackluster Democratic nominee:

The rage this morning is the Bush campaign’s “Windsurfing” ad which documents Kerry’s flip-flops (or a representative sample of same) while Kerry windsurfs in constantly changing directions bedecked in his flowery trunks, all the while accompanied to the Blue Danube Waltz which is of course better known to my generation as the “Friskies Parfait” music. It’s funny, and another step in the direction of Dukakisization.

This new commercial has gotten the Kerry campaign’s self-righteous dander up. You know the self righteous dander I’m talking about, right? It’s the schoolmarm scold voice that merges a yell and a whine and usually says something off-putting like “How could you?!?!” Everyone loves that voice, and it’s why scolding schoolmarms are so beloved in this nation of ours and why so many of them have been president. It’s no surprise that the ever adept Kerry campaign has finally stumbled on to this sure-to-be winning strategy.

Additionally, the substance of what the schoolmarm is saying here is nothing short of hilarious. According to CNN, “The Kerry campaign reacted angrily to the ad, charging that its ‘lighthearted’ approach was inappropriate in the middle of a war.”

In spite of this solemn reaction, the Kerry campaign’s disregard for lightheartedness has in fact not been immediately apparent this week. On Monday, Kerry appeared on the “David Letterman Show” which in spite of its relentless unfunniness styles itself as a comedy show. On Tuesday, the Senator visited the practically-dripping-with-gravitas “Live with Regis and Kelly.” In other words, it’s a helluva time for the Kerry campaign to insist on nonstop seriousness.

Again, shockingly, I find myself questioning the competence of the Kerry campaign.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight

Wednesday, September 22, 2004


See, it shouldn’t be like this.

Philip Roth and Arthur Miller can most definitely write, and Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp can most definitely sing, but that doesn’t mean any of them are particularly savvy observers of world affairs. While it’s a free country and Roth et. al obiously have the liberty to speak freely albeit foolishly, it would be nice if guys like this kept in mind the fact that their enjoyment of a soapbox has nothing to do with their skills (such as they are) as geopolitical scholars. In other words, a bit of circumspection might be in order. The risk that guys like these will make asses of themselves when they pronounce on “the big issues” is grave.

This is brought to mind by some research I did on Charles Lindbergh this afternoon. A few days ago, a wrote a piece that featured Lindbergh’s America First affiliation and I wondered out loud (blog-style) if he and his fellow America Firsters ever “got it” while admitting I didn’t know enough of the history of the time to render an informed opinion. This query and my Lindberg comments in general provoked a tsunami of email, some of which defended Lindberg as an American legend and others of which excoriated him as the enemy within. The letters were so divergent, I just had to do some digging and make up my own mind.

Before getting to Lindbergh, I’ll deal with America First first. Did you know that America First disbanded four days after Pearl Harbor, which, if memory serves, would be one day after Hitler declared war on the U.S.? Now, whether the movement had an epiphany that that nice guy Adolph wasn’t quite the non-threat they had long considered him to be is an open question. It’s equally plausible that Americans of December 1941 had a lot less tolerance for “root cause” searches and national introspection that borders on flagellation than we do today. That being the case, the America First Committee wisely decided to call it a day. While Lindbergh’s website credits Pearl Harbor with settling the debate, I have a feeling that it was Hitler’s declaration of war that in fact did the debate settling. Nonetheless, one could argue that the America First Committee did belatedly get it.

Now to Lindbergh. Lindbergh was one of the most prominent and probably one of the most extreme members of the America First Committee. The historical shorthand for America First movement has dubbed it as not only wrong but malevolent as well. Lindbergh’s overt anti-Semitism is (more than any other single factor) to blame for history’s harsh treatment of the Committee.

According to Nathan Glazer writing in “Commentary” in 1951, “It was no fascist movement – though certainly fascists joined it and spoke under its auspices. It was not even simply a reactionary political movement. Nor was it an anti-Semitic movement though, again, anti-Semites flocked to it. IT WAS the expression of Midwest isolationism.”

In the 1940’s, Lindberg wasn’t just a celebrity – he was a living legend. Thus his every utterance made news. Problem was, when it came to his utterances concerning world affairs, his commentary was relentlessly foolhardy, mean-spirited, miss-leading and just plain dumb.

The tipping point came with Lindbergh’s infamous Des Moines speech on September 11, 1941. A brief excerpt:

“National polls showed that when England and France declared war on Germany, in 1939, less than 10 percent of our population favored a similar course for America…The three most important groups who have been pressing this country toward war are the British, the Jewish and the Roosevelt administration…I am speaking here only of war agitators, not of those sincere but misguided men and women who, confused by misinformation and frightened by propaganda, follow the lead of the war agitators…

No person with a sense of the dignity of mankind can condone the persecution of the Jewish race in Germany. But no person of honesty and vision can look on their pro-war policy here today without seeing the dangers involved in such a policy both for us and for them. Instead of agitating for war, the Jewish groups in this country should be opposing it in every possible way for they will be among the first to feel its consequences.

Tolerance is a virtue that depends upon peace and strength. History shows that it cannot survive war and devastations. A few far-sighted Jewish people realize this and stand opposed to intervention. But the majority still do not.”

Pretty despicable, no? Lindbergh’s veiled threats sound repulsive not only to our modern sensibilities. According to Glazer’s “Commentary” piece, the The America First Committee repudiated the address; Lindbergh’s fawning website confides that the speech “was met by outrage in many quarters.” An emboldened FDR soon questioned Lindberg’s loyalty; Lindbergh in turn resigned from the Air Corps Reserve. Again, his website whispers in an apparent understatement that the public “was no longer sympathetic” to the aviation pioneer.

The reason I brought up the four artistes at the start of this post was because in a rational universe people like Arthur Miller and John Mellencamp would not enjoy soapboxes from which they could opine on politics and in so doing often make asses of themselves. Well Charles Lindbergh was a whole lot more famous and beloved than Philip Roth or even Bruce Springsteen so he enjoyed a much larger platform. And Lindbergh’s views were wrong, spectacularly wrong. Not only that, they were immoral and deceptive. Lindbergh of course was also loathsome in a way that respectable men like the four I list above have never been. That’s why history regards him, properly, as an aviation pioneer cum anti-Semitic nut.

But here’s the irony. In spite of everything else, the man could fly. When the war started, Lindbergh wanted in but the government would not accept his services. Again, according to Lindbergh’s website, the government, in a “mean spirited” mood “forced” Lindbergh’s many civilian aviation employers to can him. The only one who resisted or refused was that other noted Jew-hater, Henry Ford.

With Ford allowing him to keep his foot in the door, Lindberg eventually did make it all the way back to the armed forces and as a middle aged pilot performed heroically in the Pacific theatre. He successfully completed 20 missions and even registered a kill. It was truly what he did best. Like I said, the man could fly, and he had more than a little heroic stuff inside him.

Lindbergh of course had a right to speak his mind. So do Philip Roth and the Dixie Chicks and Michael Moore. (If there are any conservative celebrities who have behaved in a similar fashion, drop me a line and I’ll re-post with their name added to the previous sentence.) But speaking their minds on political affairs isn’t what they’re good at or why they became famous. When they do speak their minds on the major affairs of the day, their ignorance and lack of insight are often sadly in evidence. No single celebrity paid a higher price (nor deserved to pay a higher price) for his political naïveté and other character flaws than Charles Lindbergh.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight

Tuesday, September 21, 2004


You “Lord of the Rings” types out there will know instantly what I’m talking about here, and if I garble the details please forgive me. There’s a scene where the doddering King resists the advice offered by the noble Aragon by saying, “I’m not going to do what you suggest and risk full out war.” Aragon responds, “Whether you risk full out war or not, you’ve got it.”

Like the doddering King, yesterday John Kerry clarified his weekly inalterable stance on Iraq by proclaiming, “If we do not change course, there is the prospect of a war with no end in sight.” This is what worries me about John Kerry – does he not realize that regardless of who is President, we are in a war with no end in sight?

It’s not by our choosing, but it is here and it is a reality. All the changes in course (a Kerry specialty) in the world won’t alter it. It’s the storm in which we fly.

My favorite liberal sent me a letter a few weeks ago documenting in scrupulous detail why she thinks the Iraq war is just about the dumbest thing ever. While I didn’t find her letter persuasive, I loved it because her differences with the administration (and me) were strategic and tactical; she thought the President was making all the wrong decisions regarding his prosecution of the global war on terror. But she understands that the war with radical Islam is an inescapable reality. If she were Bush’s opponent, I’d feel better about things.

Bush’s actual opponent and many of that opponent’s supporters don’t realize that this is a fight that’s upon us whether we want it or not. Last week I saw a car festooned with a few left wing fever swamp bumper stickers. While the most offensive was the one titled “The Passion of the Anti-Christ” featuring a picture of the president, the most frightening was the one declaiming “War is NEVER the Answer.”

The traditional glib response to that slogan is “Yes, unless, Nazism, Totalitarianism or Fascism is the question.” But in these times, that answer won’t do. Because whether we want it or not, war is upon us. Convincing people like this motorist of the principle of “just wars” would be wasting time that we don’t have. The war is ongoing, inevitable, and inescapable, whether you think war is sometimes the answer or not.

Yesterday I wrote about Charles Lindbergh a bit. Lindberg and Father Coughlin and the other American Firsters – did they ever get it that battling the Nazis wasn’t an option but a necessity? I really don’t know – I just don’t know enough of the history from the era.

But I do know this – whether they got it or not, history soon left them in the dust. History will also leave in the dust Michael Moore who thinks the feyadeen are modern day minutemen and who thinks George W. Bush is a modern day Hitler.

Also destined to be left in the dust is a presidential candidate who fails to realize that “a war with no end in sight” is an inescapable reality.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight

Monday, September 20, 2004


Regarding my Philip Roth post earlier today, I should add the endnote that I consider Roth a brilliant artist. Same thing goes for Arthur Miller. It’s just that sometimes when guys like that comment on political matters, they come across as, well, schmucks.

Don’t believe me? Check out this quote from Miller in yesterday’s New York Times Magazine: ''How can the polls be neck and neck when I don't know one Bush supporter?'' According to the article’s author, Miller asked the question in “apparent earnestness.”

I believe Pauline Kael made a similar comment during the 1972 campaign where she offered a withering review of President Nixon’s re-election chances because of her lack of acquaintance with any Nixon voters. May Miller’s insight be as perceptive as Kael’s proved to be.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight


In yesterday’s New York Times Book Review, author Philip Roth had a lengthy essay defining the creative process that went into his forthcoming novel, “The Plot Against America.” Roth’s latest opus is an alternative history in which Charles Lindbergh defeats Franklin Roosevelt in 1940 and becomes America’s 33rd President. Despite the hackneyed nature of the genre (see Newt Gingrich’s “Grant Comes East”), Roth implausibly insists that he “had no literary models for re-imagining the past.” In the author’s mind, such was the groundbreaking nature of the endeavor.

Even with no model to guide him, Roth realized all by himself that he could not make his historical characters behave “implausibly.” It was apparently this need for plausibility that made Roth cast Walter Winchell as Lindbergh’s primary political antagonist and a presidential nominee. Yes, the Jewish gossip columnist Walter Winchell. Yes, that Walter Winchell, a presidential candidate in the 1940’s. If that’s plausible, I don’t know what Roth would possibly have deemed implausible. The only ahistorical silliness Roth seemed to avoid was casting Amelia Earhart as Winchell’s running mate.

Roth went on for a few thousand words explicating and defending this nonsense. At long last nearing his conclusion, Roth offers the following non sequitur: “And now Aristophanes, who surely must be God, has given us George W. Bush, a man unfit to run a hardware store let alone a nation like this one.” If you feel the need to follow the link and find this sentence I’ll understand, but let me assure you I’ve taken nothing out of context. In the 3000 some words that preceded this comment, Roth hadn’t mentioned a single time President Bush, the modern era, or Aristophanes, let alone Aristophanes’ deity like qualities.

What I find breathtaking about the above quote is its remarkable glibness. Roth feels it’s okay to make such a remarkable and colorful denigration of the President without providing any support to back him up. In his world view, it’s apparently a given that Bush is a dunderhead and the assertion that he lacks the faculties to run a hardware store needs no defense. In Roth’s estimation, wasting precious column space to support such an obvious truth would be akin to spending several paragraphs proving that the earth is round or the sun hot or that the New York Times is the paper of record. These things are, of course, all facts of life.

Roth’s comment illustrates what I think is the fundamental pathology haunting the American left this campaign season. So convinced is the left of President Bush’s stupidity and recklessness and callowness and Manichaean world view that it hasn’t felt the need to make the case to support its views. Instead, it substitutes its own shorthand version of what it considers to be axiomatic facts of life. So want to prove Bush is stupid? Show him reading “My Pet Goat.” Want to show he’s callow? Forge some ancient documents and book Kitty Kelley on “The Today Show.” Want to show he’s a reckless cowboy? Talk about how the world was all with us on 9/11 and now it no longer is.

You know, I get lengthy letters from some of my left wing readers that lay out carefully and thoughtfully their problems with the Bush administration. They let me know why they think Iraq was a tragic error and why they don’t respect the way this administration has conducted itself. I have a feeling these writers have some strong anti-Bush feelings (much like I have some not particularly warm feelings to their champion), but they keep the ad hominem ranting to a minimum. They make cases, and they tend to make good ones.

The Kerry campaign and its backers like Roth do nothing but indulge their insatiable appetite for Bush bashing. It’s not working, and it won’t begin to work any time soon.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight

Sunday, September 19, 2004


This week’s batch:

1) Reader Chris, in a rare moment of candor, confirms what we’ve always known about our friends on the left:

Cute little Ratheresque post there this evening. I'm sure you enjoyed writing it. As a liberal Democrat I look forward to making little 3 year olds cry. Nothing brings a bigger smile to my face.

To be fair, Chris says he was joking.

2) To continue the meme, Roger writes in to let us know about some unfortunate political debates he’s been involved in:

Good post on Sophia Parlock. I do wonder about the manners of Dems/libs versus Repubs/conservative activists. The left seems to be a far angrier, more arrogant group in general. Even in e-mail debates with some of my immediate relatives (liberal Democrats all), a lot of crude ad hominem stuff is flung my way (not at me personally but at conservatives generically -- Neanderthals, racists, etc.).

Roger is of course lucky. In my case, the ad hominem stuff is intended just for me. Roger’s probably a much nicer guy.

3) To my Iowa readers: I do not necessarily endorse the views in the following letter. I’ve never been to your state, but if if I had I’m sure I would have been overwhelmed by your sunny demeanors and solid Midwestern values:

I recently got a flash of insight about Iowa, thanks to John Kerry. Iowa picks presidential candidates, particularly dems, but it shouldn't. Iowa is an aberration politically.

It's a liberal island in a sea of conservativeness. How it got that way, I know not, but that's the way it is. And as such, it sends the wrong message to pols, especially democrats. That message is one that resonates with East Coast liberals since it's nothing more than an echo. But an echo is not what they need. They need Kansas.

If I were advising a candidate in 2008, I'd say skip Iowa. Just skip it. Had Gephardt skipped it, he may well have won the nomination. As it was, the Iowans turned on Dean and the dems took the first valiant knight they saw. Too bad they didn't look inside the visor to see he was an empty suit of armor.

And, yeah, I realize Dean was liberal. It doesn't blow my theory. Kerry's liberal. Besides being liberal, Iowans are cantankerous and proud of it. Ever listened to "The Music Man"? Either way, they do NOT represent the great Midwest.

4) Before reading the next letter, have hanky or some tissues handy. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Many readers wrote in to say they were touched by the Updike homage to his dog on Andrew Sullivan’s website. All correspondents also added that they think Sullivan’s site has fallen on some hard times. Charter reader Mark wrote in with a reminiscence of his dog that gave me that “something in my eyes” feeling and reduced Mrs. Soxblog to jelly. If you’re not a dog person, you will be after reading this letter. If you are a dog person, please be sure the tissues are now handy:

No kidding about the dog story. We had a little cocker spaniel named Mickie for 13 years. We loved that dog and he was our spoiled rotten little guy for 8 years. Mickie loved the neighborhood kids so I wasn't surprised 5 years ago when my little daughter was born and Mickie accepted his demotion to dog gracefully. We saved him many times over the years. He survived a heart attack, touch and go bladder stone surgery twice, and the removal of some really big cysts. Every time, Mickie would somehow make it through and, overjoyed to be back home, follow me around from room to room like old times. Our vet would flip through Mickie's file and say, “I can't believe this dog is alive.”

Mickie must have sensed that we really wanted him around. Last summer, Mickie who was always pudgy from too many treats, lost weight ,and we had to carry him up and down stairs, and pull him in a wagon on our evening walks. He never seemed to be in any pain, but by fall he had the most horrible loose bowels that no medicine helped .Mickie even stopped swimming after sticks which was his most favorite thing in the world. In desperation, I even tried some remedies from our local hippie medicine store, but on Oct.21 Mickie's back legs stopped working, and he seemed to finally be in some pain so we called and made the appt. for the next day. That night I slept in the downstairs bedroom with him and the next morning when he woke up he crawled into my lap and licked my face then put his head on my chest and just stared into my eyes. I know he was saying goodbye, and worrying about who would take care of me after he was gone. Twenty years from now, when my kids are off to college and don't need me anymore, I'll get another little cocker to pal around with just so long as he's black with tan paws.

Glad you have those tissues handy? The bar for the mailbag has officially been raised.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight

Saturday, September 18, 2004

WEEKLY WRAP-UP 9-18-2004

1) The Soxblogs moved this week, a fact which I think accounts for the relatively mediocre quality of this week’s postings. Sorry about that, although I do think I partly redeemed myself with yesterday’s “retraction.” For those who have sent email messages that I haven’t responded to, a special apology. Really, it was nothing personal.

I was going to take a play out of James Lileks’ playbook and name our new abode after our dog like Lileks does with his “Jasperwood”. Unfortunately, incorporating our dog’s lamentable name of “Stinky” into any house’s title just doesn’t work. Trust me, I’ve tried (Chateau Stinky?). Thus, whenever I feel the need to refer to the Soxblogs’ northern home on these pages, the fittingly regal “Soxblog Manor” will be utilized.

2) According to the latest New York Times poll, “71 percent (of voters) said that Mr. Bush was ‘hiding something’ or ‘mostly lying’ about his Vietnam era service in the National Guard.” In other words, the Democrats have won this debate; of course they had it won four years ago. It also turns out that most voters think Kerry has been too negative and focused too much on the past. Kerry does far worse on the questions regarding focus on the past and excessive negativity than Bush does. In a related area, Kerry’s favorable/unfavorable score has sunk to a shockingly low 31/42. So, to deploy a military analogy, the Kerry campaign has undertaken a veritable Pickett’s Charge to claim real estate it already held.

And these guys keep saying Bush is dumb?

3) Tiger Woods is having another subpar Ryder Cup. Over his Cup career, in matches with a partner, Woods is a mediocre 7-9-1. Given the fact that he’s been the best player in the world for the last seven years, this record is pretty amazing.

I think a big part of the reason for this disappointing performance is that Woods’ dour demeanor and demand for excellence makes him a difficult player to partner with. Honestly, I think passing a kidney stone would be more fun than having Woods as a Ryder Cup partner. You could see evidence of that fact written all over Phil Mickelson’s face yesterday.

For a Red Sox fan, the Nomar Garciapara comparison is an obvious one. By the end of his tenure with the Red Sox, Garciapara remained a great player but had become a bad teammate. Anyone who’s been on a team knows that the sourpuss who brings everyone down is just about the most toxic thing imaginable. When that guy’s your best player, being part of that team becomes sheer misery. That was the situation with Nomar, and I think there’s a similar dynamic between Tiger and his Ryder Cup teammates.

4) Speaking of the Red Sox, last night’s game was a blast, really a memorable regular season game. Alas, this weekend’s series with the Yankees and next weekend’s as well both don’t really matter. Both teams appear likely to make the playoffs and that’s when the games that count will begin.

Of course, if the Sox were winning 13-1 as I write instead of losing 13-1 and the Yankees’ divisional lead was about to be cut to 1 ½ I might be saying something quite different.

5) Tomorrow the Soxblog Mailbag will make its return after a one week absence. Submissions are being eagerly welcomed and desperately solicited.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight

Friday, September 17, 2004


Earlier in the day I posted a story about Sophia Parlock, the little girl who while perched on her father’s shoulders had her doubtlessly beloved Bush/Cheney sign destroyed by a thug wearing a union t-shirt. Turns out little Sophia’s father is a first class Grade-A idiot who often uses his children as political protest props. And it also turns out that the union t-shirt bedecked thug was likely a plant, either a Parlock friend or a Parlock himself. In other words, the story is a hoax, and this is the part where I apologize for disseminating the hoax and call Parlock pére to task: I was fooled and Parlock is beneath contempt.

Now that that’s out of the way, let me say this: I stand by my story. In spite of the mountain of the evidence to the contrary, I’m stickin’ with it ‘til the cows come home. Sure the event itself was a hoax, but my story is still accurate. Democratic Union supporters behave like jerks at rallies. And liberal Democrats make three year olds cry. So even if the union guy in the photo wasn’t a union guy at all, I don’t see how that changes the fundamentals of my assertion about politically active union guys in general. Hell, I even provided eye-witness testimony from an event a decade ago to prove as much; this testimony came from an unimpeachable source – me!

If it turns out that union guys behave like perfect little gentlemen at political rallies, I look forward to breaking that story. But I’ve talked to several experts who say I’m in the right on this one. And for every expert who says I’m wrong, there’s another one who says I’m right. Certain partisans question the authenticity of my story because they don’t want to deal with its accuracy. Well, rest assured, this cowboy can take the heat

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight


My favorite campaign story of the day comes from West Virginia. (Actually, it’s my second favorite – the Gallup poll that has Bush up 54-40 is impossible to beat.) Anyway, back to West Virginia. Follow the link.

There you’ll see a picture of a precious three year old girl, a veritable Cindy-Lou Who, perched on her father’s shoulders. But what should be a happy tableaux instead is a sad one. Three year old Sophia Parlock is weeping. Her Bush-Cheney sign has been snatched by over-zealous Kerry-Edwards supporters and torn to shreds. Next to poor Sophia, you can see a gloating young man wearing a t-shirt boasting of his affiliation with some union clutching what appears to be a piece of the formerly proud Bush-Cheney sign. Sophia’s father looks distressed and helpless; none of the on-looking Kerry-Edwards supporters seem to be offering any support, moral or otherwise.

It doesn’t please me to report this, but I once was Sophia Parlock, helplessly bullied by backwards hat wearing Democrat partisan thugs. It was during the Romney-Kennedy campaign of 1994. It was a tight race, and the first candidates’ debate was being held at famous Boston landmark Faneuil Hall. Both campaigns urged their supporters to come out in force for their respective champions.

For the Romney campaign, that meant the local Republicans would take a night off from dining at their country clubs and hold a campaign sign for a couple of hours. For the Kennedy campaign, bringing out their supporters meant only one thing – mobilize the Unions.

While I’m generalizing a bit, the contrast between the campaigns’ supporters was stark. Trust me on that. The Romney supporters were by and large political neophytes unaccustomed to the rough and tumble of such events; the Kennedy supporters were old hands at the form of combat that ensued. See, it was like a battle; both sides wanted to get close enough to the spot where the candidates entered so their signs, and thus their enthusiasm, would be seen by the larger TV audience. This being Boston, there was limited space so the desirable real estate went to the most “determined” supporters.

Suffice to say, the scrum did not go well for the Romney supporters. The Kennedy supporters were slightly more numerous and a lot more “determined.” You could see it on the faces of most of the Romney supporters – political activism was not turning out be their cup of tea.

After the disappointing photo-op, it was time to leave. Some went home, some went to bars, my two friends and I made our way through Boston’s crooked streets to the debate’s after party site for campaign insiders. There it happened – the three of us youthful yuppie types toting our Romney signs came upon a half dozen Kennedy sign toting gentlemen wearing “Tunnel Digger Union” jackets (there was a lot of tunnel digging going on in Boston at the time with the Big Dig and all).

The sight of my business attire was enough to enrage these men: “Look at that fuck wearing that fucking ‘Anderson Little’ suit. I’d like to fuck him up just for the fuck of it.” That was their battle cry.

Although enraged by the suggestion that I would wear an Anderson Little suit, Anderson Little being a local chain not known for selling suits of the highest quality or even ones made from natural fibers, I knew I would have to control my temper. We were outnumbered, not to mention hopelessly effete. I decided to ignore the insult and move on.

But our malefactors had other ideas. They approached us and relieved us of our Romney signs. They were actually quite gentlemanly about the transaction, given the circumstances. I can only wish that I had been sitting on my father’s shoulders at the time, safely out of the reach of these Democratic brutes.

So, Sophia Parlock, you’ve joined a proud tradition at a young age. Your dissent has been stifled and your safety menaced by the minions of a struggling Massachusetts politician. I can only wish that I had displayed the same nobility and courage that evening long ago as you did yesterday.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight

Thursday, September 16, 2004


Here’s how it’s supposed to work: A nominee is chosen by Iowa and New Hampshire because those two centrist states have the opportunity to touch and feel the candidates before they make a decision. And that’s true. Anyone in those states who wants to be in a small room with the next president can easily do so. So the ultimate winner has to be good at retail politics. He has to be able to look into the voters’ eyes and win their hearts. Or at least their votes.

And it usually works just fine. The nominees that we’ve gotten have all been impressive guys for the most part. Sure, you can look at how all modern candidates are ultimately debased by their opponents and the media, but you’d have to be pretty stubborn to not accept the fact that all of the nominees have been impressive up close. The attitudes of close-up observers have ranged from respectful (Gore) to quivering idolization (Clinton), but it’s safe to say that all the Presidential nominees in the modern era have won votes when they had face to face encounters with the electorate.

Until now. I’ve seen John Kerry work a room and it ain’t pretty. The Kerry Magic that has been transmitted into your living room the past few months was available in the flesh to Iowans throughout 2003 and Iowans offered a resounding “Ech!” But courtesy of the system perturbation that was Howard Dean, Iowa Democrats selected someone that they deemed “electable” even if they didn’t particularly like him.

Howard Dean’s ability to work a room, by the way, is revered by political observers. No less an authority than the Weekly Standard commented on his personal magnetism. And if Dean could have only softened the edges as caucus day approached, is there any doubt he would have won and done so handily? Of course, like Pat Buchanan when he achieved unexpected successes in 1992, Dean let his success go to head and tacked crazily to his extreme side rather than the middle. Hence, nominee Kerry.

All of this is a long winded way of saying that in politics the personal touch is one of the most important things in getting to the top. There are other things that matter, to be sure, but if you look at the nominees since 1976 the best at retail politicking (if they’re able to refrain from plagiarizing Welsh Labour leaders) have usually been the ones to win the nomination. And if the best didn’t prevail, they came close and out-performed expectations. John Edwards 2004 and Ronald Reagan 1976 are good examples of the over-achieving charismatic types.

The reason I’m writing about this today is because an earlier email exchange brought Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney to mind. In my opinion, Mitt Romney will be the 2008 Republican nominee for president. While his résumé won’t be as good as some of his competitors’, it will be in the same class. But when it comes to retail politicking, Mitt is the Tiger Woods of the game – simply the best, far better than the rest. The pundits will lament the presence of yet another Massachusetts pol on the national scene, but trust me, I know Mitt Romney and he’s no John Kerry.

Remember, you heard it hear first. Romney in 2008.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight

Wednesday, September 15, 2004


Andrew Sullivan helps a reader mourn her deceased Beagle. If you’re a dog person, reading this is a must. Warning – at the very least your eyes will well up unless you have a heart of stone.

As you all know, I normally don’t do the “link thing.” It’s not because I have anything against it; it’s just not what I do. Tonight’s exception is occasioned by a) how moved I was by the post; and b) how pleasant it was to read something on Andrew Sullivan’s site that didn’t make me cringe.

Sullivan’s site used to be one of the best out there, but since he became obsessed with a certain social issue it’s become increasingly difficult to read. Hey, it’s his blog and he can write about whatever he wants but if you keep saying the same thing over and over again, it’s not going to be very interesting even if you have the obvious talent of an Andrew Sullivan. By the way, I’m not unsympathetic to Andrew or his concern over this issue. It’s just that he’s become almost parodically redundant.

So anyway, it was great to have Andrew back, even if it was for only one post. His obsession resurfaced twice later in the day.

(Oddly enough, Andrew didn’t specify the Beagle’s stance on gay marriage.)

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight


I love presidential campaigns - every word is chosen carefully and often focus group approved before earning the right to be uttered.

Which makes me wonder about the following quote in John Kerry’s op-ed piece in today’s Wall Street Journal (read it before bedtime – you’ll sleep like a heavily drugged baby): “When the economy needed short-run stimulus without increasing the long-run deficit, President Bush got it backwards, passing an initial round of tax cuts that found had no effect in lifting us out of recession.”

Now, wait, hold the Presidential Express for just a moment. These are the same tax-cuts that the far more authoritative and credible Alan Greenspan said did in fact lift us out of recession. So with Greenspan as his opposing expert, who does Kerry call in?

Economy-dot-f----g-com? You’ve got to be kidding me. Who the hell is and why should anyone give a hoot about what they think? Does hold a chair at M.I.T.?

And why did Kerry choose to buttress his case? You can pretty reliably find a Harvard economics professor to support any position as long as it’s not really out there. And if it is really out there, there’s always a loony Princeton economics professor emeritus (currently scribing for the New York Times) eager to join an anti-Bush pig pile.

So again, why

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight


“CBS' real error was trying to prove a point that didn't need to be proved.” – Los Angeles Times editorial, 9/16/2004

You’d have to be living in a pretty fanciful world to believe that. Such unreasoning silliness can only be found at either the pinnacle of academia or in the press.

The statement is of course completely wrong. CBS’ “real error” was its active participation in a disingenuous plot to politically wound a candidate not to its liking. CBS News’ real error was figuring that it was okay to play Michael Moore for a day, to dally in clear untruths in order to communicate what it considered to be a higher truth. CBS’ real error was not being hoaxed but in perpetrating a hoax. And that real error will be the downfall of everyone involved in this pathetic affair.

In determining CBS’ precise level of culpability, you have to ask yourself a question: How foolish are the people at CBS? It seems that every expert who’s looked at these documents has decided that they’re forgeries or at the very least there’s no evidence that vouches for their authenticity. Indeed, it seems like CBS’ own experts declined to say they were genuine. So the question becomes, were the CBS minions so incredibly foolish that they were the only ones deceived by these phonies?

Either way you answer the question, CBS is screwed. Let’s say that only CBS was so stupid as to be fooled by these things and that CBS alone remains fooled long after even the L.A. Times (!) has caught on. If that’s the case, then going forward CBS has no credibility left as a news organization. CBS certainly won’t be able to do an “investigative report” without inducing a nationwide smirk from the chattering classes.

But I don’t think CBS bought it. Although I can’t prove it, I have a tough time imagining that all the stupid people in the media are concentrated in the CBS Newsroom. Therefore, I find it tough to believe that the CBS people and only CBS people were deceived by these forgeries. I even find it tough to believe that the CBS newsroom thinks “We should run it if can’t be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that it’s a forgery” is a logical standard for a news organization to rely on. Perhaps unwisely, I give Dan Rather and his Big-Eye Praetorians more credit than that.

Does it not seem like Dan Rather and his minions are analogous to that ridiculous AP reporter who fabricated boos at a Bush rally? Does it not seem like Rather was eager to peddle something that he had to know was illegitimate? And what are we to make of CBS opting to go to the mattresses over their folly? Not just foolhardy, their tack shows a blatant disregard for accuracy. Again like Michael Moore, CBS apparently feels that some creative license is acceptable in order to make its larger points.

I’m going to say it again – CBS wasn’t the victim here, it was the perpetrator. Other perpetrators (the Kerry campaign, perhaps) will face their own reckonings. But for CBS News, the scandal spells its doom.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight

Tuesday, September 14, 2004


In corresponding with my favorite liberal this morning, I had occasion to reminisce about a time when I actually advised a Democrat’s campaign. Aaah, the idealism of youth.

Well, it’s not only lame-o baby boomers who pine to be young again. I too yearn to re-live my salad days. So today, free of charge, I will offer the Kerry campaign advice on how to resurrect itself. I offer this advice only because I’m comfortable in the knowledge that the Kerry campaign is far too stubborn and stupid to employ any of my words of wisdom.

The biggest problem with the Kerry campaign is the candidate. Nobody likes him. Even his supporters by and large don’t like him. I’ve received many letters from many Kerry supporters but I’ve yet to get one that claimed an actual fondness for the man. Of course, Kerry didn’t get the nomination because Democrats liked him; he got the nomination because his party belatedly caught on to the fact that Howard Dean was a mean spirited loon who couldn’t win. With Dean done, they still needed to nominate someone. Why not a war hero?

Their thinking was all they required was a receptacle for all the anti-Bush votes. The ever erroneous Conventional Wisdom holds that elections are a referendum on the incumbent and facing an incumbent with below 50% approval numbers, the Donkey just needed to nominate someone who didn’t cost them votes as the nation came to know him. While this nugget of CW is reliably incorrect, there is a part of it that’s helpful – it’s better for your party if you have a nominee who doesn’t repel voters.

And that’s become Kerry’s problem – he’s become repulsive. His flip-flopping and his whining and his inability to take a clear stand and his kow-towing to Whoopi Goldberg and his shrill attacks – has there ever been a less likable presidential candidate? Michael Dukakis is Cary Grant next to this guy, Al Gore is Rhett Butler.

Kerry can still receive all the votes of a dissatisfied and frustrated citizenry if he stops being so loathsome. Now I hear you saying, “But James, the man is 60 years old. Leopards don’t change their spots. How can he stop being what he is?” Well, he can’t stop being a jerk but he can stop looking like one. But to do so would require a fundamental change in the way he campaigns.

Kerry would have to focus on being likable. He would have to consciously strive to appear like a big-hearted and decent guy. For instance, let’s say Kerry said something like this: “We know President Bush has always intended the best for this country. And we don’t question his motives – indeed we salute his service and his efforts. And if the President wins, we’ll be 100% behind him. Make that 110%. It’s just we think we have a better way.”

Note the lack of arrogance in that comment. And note how he could still deliver all the substantive critiques (whatever they might be this week) that his heart might desire. And note how he actually sounds patriotic in a way much more persuasive than whining, “I’m patriotic.”

Kerry should talk positively not because he expects reciprocity but because (he should claim) he respects the office he seeks too much and the American people too much to run anything other than an uplifting campaign. He should even go so far as to say that he knows that if he should lose, the country will be in capable hands. What a great contrast that would be to Dick Cheney’s impolitic “vote for us or die” comment. Besides, he could still have his surrogates run around talking about President Bush's treasonous activites at the Texas National Guard.

If Kerry suddenly becomes likable, the dynamics of this election change. Again I offer this advice comfortable in the knowledge that Kerry and his campaign are incapable of following it. Arrogance is hardwired into the man; magnanimity is locked out. This is the guy who proclaimed, “I don’t fall” after taking a spill on the ski slopes, after all.

Putting him together to be likable is something that all of Bill Clinton’s men will not be able to accomplish.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight