It pains me to say this, inasmuch as I'd give damn near anything to see George Bush shipped back to Crawford next year, but John Kerry is one truly uninspiring human being. Which scares me a bit. Michael Dukakis was a dork, and Shrub's pappy whupped him good 16 years ago. Al Gore was similarly wonkish, and election disputes aside, he doesn't reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Bill Clinton, on the other hand, had a sort of rock-star quality that got him out of the stickiest situations (pun intended). Kerry's not even close.
With the nomination firmly in hand, the Massachusetts senator flew in for some campaigning and fund raising last week. He rolled into the Plaza Theater on Bumby Avenue to collect the endorsements of a police union and senators Bob Graham and Bill Nelson, both of whom are presumably on the veep short list. (Now there's political courage: endorsing the man the day after he sealed the deal.)
Ostensibly, it was a "Town Hall for America's Security." In reality, after some lip service to shoring up borders and ports and putting more cops on the street, it was just another campaign event, full of exactly the same Bush-bashing you'd expect (and in my case, enjoy). Over the course of 90 minutes -- like the rock star he needs to be, Kerry showed up 45 minutes late -- Kerry promised near-universal health care, improved law enforcement and veterans benefits, secured Social Security and Medicare benefits, cheaper prescription drugs, better-funded schools and shiny, happy days for everyone.
All of which is OK, if a bit overboard in the pandering department. What bothered me is that, even as someone who instinctively wants to believe in this guy, I was bored silly. And I wasn't the only one. Way before the event was over, a handful of media types slipped outside to take smoke breaks.
John Kerry is a nerd. You can pump the Rolling Stones through the PA all you want, and have your candidate enter sans tie, but in the end, when he opens his mouth, you just want to zone out. Throughout his stump speech and an overtly friendly Q & A, he'd refer to long-ago Senate subcommittees and reports, expounding on statistics and all sorts of minutiae.
Yeah, he knows what he's talking about, which would surely make him a better president than Dubya. No, he doesn't make me care -- and I really want to care -- and that could prove problematic.
To counter what his handlers have to know is his biggest weakness, Kerry continually references his Vietnam service and his stint as a state prosecutor (not as much as John Edwards and that damn textile mill, but close).
Nerd? Maybe. Wuss? No.
Never trust a hippy
An Associated Press poll released two days after Kerry became the nominee showed him deadlocked with Bush. More importantly, however, it showed Ralph Nader with 6 percent support -- in other words, enough to escort the chickenhawk-in-chief to a second term.
Forgive me while I vent. If you deluded hippies are really that dumb, then you deserve precisely everything you get, from oil drilling everywhere, to an almightier Halliburton, to war, war, war, war, war. Bush was this bad when he had to run for re-election; imagine how disgustingly, freakishly right-wing he'll be as a lame duck.
My campaign promise: The first person who approaches me to sign a petition to get Nader on the ballot in Florida is going to get a swift kick in the ass. So before you sign up as a volunteer, remember: I could be anyone.
The 11th commandment
They won't say it out loud, but I suspect Republican party leaders really don't want Bill McCollum to win the nomination for Bob Graham's open Senate seat. He lost to Bill Nelson in a Senate race four years ago, has a reactionary record and is generally unlikable outside of the party's fringe elements.
McCollum has already attacked Washington favorite Mel Martinez as a liberal trial lawyer. Fellow fringer Larry Klayman accused both McCollum and Martinez of feeding off the "corrupt Washington money culture," according to the Associated Press. Johnnie Byrd, as shamelessly ambitious as he is, won't be far behind.
All will attack Martinez -- the only one remotely moderate enough to win -- as some wild-eyed, Ted-Kennedy loving freak. So the party, in a sort of pre-emptive strike, asked all its candidates to sign an agreement not to attack fellow Republicans. Republican godfather Ronald Reagan called such agreements "The 11th Commandment." Martinez eagerly agreed. The others were more resistant, according to the AP.
And I say, good for them. I'd like nothing better than to see McCollum or Byrd in a statewide race, particularly after ripping each other to shreds during the primary season -- which, by the way, doesn't have a runoff this year, meaning a plurality wins and fringe candidates have a better-than-average shot.
So yeah: Slug, Inc. officially begs Bill McCollum to be as nasty as we know he really wants to be, and maybe he'll even win. And that's all we can really hope for.
Quote o' the week
"You have to understand the body is not lewd and lascivious. It's people's behavior that is lewd and lascivious. These are breasts. They're not weapons of mass destruction." (Shirley Mason, nudist activist, as quoted in the March 8 Orlando Sentinel.)