Tactics and Substance in the 2004 Elections GoogleNews: Howard Dean

March 7, 2004

by J

Economist Subtly Adopts Anti-Kerry Meme

The Economist had a few articles about John Kerry this week. In this short piece they cover his Senatorial speaking style (which I have lamented in the past.) Their concluding paragraph displays a rather stunning bias, to my admittedly media-spin-sensitive eye:
By producing a lot of different evidence, Mr Kerry implies that he has thought widely about an issue. By ignoring a lot of evidence and going back to first principles, Mr Bush suggests that his views are rooted in core beliefs. In their patterns of thought, as well as in their policies, the two men offer clear alternatives.
Are we to draw from this the conclusion that John Kerry's views are not rooted in core beliefs? That he has no core beliefs? (Which, for all the flaws that I perceive in Kerry, I don't believe to be true.) And what are the "clear alternatives", exactly? Person A who "suggests" his views are rooted in core beliefs vs. Person B who "implies" he's thought widely about issues. If so, does the Economist have anything to say about the factual merits underlying this suggestion and this implication?

Or does the Economist mean to suggest the alternative is between someone who actually does "think widely" and someone who really does have "core beliefs" with the attendant implication that these things are irreconcilable? Couldn't John Kerry think widely about issues and root his conclusions in his core beliefs?

Really, what is the Economist trying to say here? It just ticks me off. The writers of the Economist, even though they are a bit too rabidly capitalistic for my taste (sorry fellas, the market, she ain't a perfect solution to everything) are not stupid. There's a message being conveyed with these words and, curiously, it seems to be following along the lines of the RNC/BC04 campaign rhetoric. Someone at the Economist earned their Bush-Cheney baseball cap this week, I guess.
Posted by J at March 7, 2004 02:21 PM

OK. But then tell me what Keryr's core beliefs are.

I have to say that this rings true to me. Bush is a man of all conviction (damn any contradicting facts), but Kerry is a man of all convenience.

I'm not exactly putting this right, nor is the Economist. Trying to get help with this pop quiz.

Posted by: Todd at March 7, 2004 09:28 PM

Well, I am not a Kerryite, and in my resigned ABB mode haven't done a ton of digging on the guy. However, I do have the impression that he's been quite solid on environmental issues.

I also would not take anything Andrew Sullivan says seriously. It baffles me that anyone pays attention to him.

And, for all that I'm not thrilled with Kerry, I don't think it's fair to suggest that he's as extreme in his predilection towards choosing the convenient side of things (and, again, I'm still willing to believe that much of this is media spin -- haven't bothered to dig into it myself) as Bush is in his born-again, self-righteous, sneering certainty. They are not duals of each other, and juxtaposing them in this way does a disservice to Kerry, I think.

Now look, you've made me defend the guy! ;-)

Posted by: J at March 8, 2004 07:09 PM

Did you see what The Economist did to Dean? Man, they HATED him. I've always respected The Economist's ability to cut through bullshit, they did nothing but parrot Karl Rove's talking points against Dean. Compared to that, Kerry's getting the royal treatment.

The part you've included doesn't seem terribly offensive to me -- it implies that Bush doesn't think about issues as well as that Kerry doesn't have core beliefs. That may be an oversimplification, but there's a hint of truth in it.

Posted by: Shooter in AZ at March 9, 2004 12:15 AM

Oh, no question. The Economist was absolutely vile to Dean, I agree. And they continue to be so -- in a recent edition I think they said something along the lines of "Dean would have been no competition to Bush." Only, it was much snarkier than that.

Lexington in particular was a complete twit. (But, it eventually came out that he was for Kerry.)

As for the treatment Kerry's getting, I am extremely nervous that the media, establishment cronies all, will start doing to Kerry what they did to Gore. Adopting Rove's talking points that Kerry is a flip-flopper (when an equally strong case can be made that Bush doesn't know what the heck he wants) is the first sign of that. I expect better from the Economist (although maybe I should get over that -- been saying it for a few years now), and if they're already going along with Rove/RNC spin and reporting it as fact, then things just do not bode well for the American press (who can barely pee anymore without getting permission from their corporate Republican masters).

Posted by: J at March 9, 2004 07:11 AM

It's part of a long-running and sometimes very low-key (sometimes rabid) anti-intellectualism on the part of conservatives. "Thinking broadly" about issues seems to imply that Kerry's too much of an "egghead" or "wonk." Which conservatives - for some reason - despise. And that thinking is rampant among lots of people; "intellectual," somehow has become an epithet instead of the honorific it should be.

Posted by: Charles2 at March 9, 2004 10:45 AM

It's part of a long-running and sometimes very low-key (sometimes rabid) anti-intellectualism on the part of conservatives.

Absolutely agreed.

This is a notion that is implicit in many current political discussions and the implications of such systemic, irrational, anti-intellectualism for the United States as a world leader moving forward are horrifying. (Not to mention the implications for individuals -- whole generations now growing up with the notion that reading books is for losers.)

Posted by: J at March 9, 2004 10:49 AM

Agree to disagree, J... I really do think its quite fair to suggest that "he's as extreme in his predilection towards choosing the convenient side of things".

Kerry is the anti-Dean, the Democratic opposite of Dean.

Posted by: Todd at March 9, 2004 07:52 PM

I would like to say that while I appreciate the intellectualism of the posted thoughts and comments. I would appreciate the time and posting of the other side of the story form my opinion which is granted to me via the forefathers of this nation and the men and women of the armed forces who fought so that one day I could be free and excell in those rights as a citizen of this great nation. I will understand if my comments will not be posted for this is a site that I chose to come into and therefore the personel who run this site have the authority to do as they wish with my opinion. Carrying on however, I have to say that at the age of 28 I haven't had much experience of watching Mr. Kerry and nor have I researched his service to this country via the Senate. However I do have similar values and morals that he does and yet i find myself standing up for some of the values that he claims to have but doesn't display while on this campaign. I forone believe that his view of the abortion should be straight forward and the Democratic party shouldn't even have him in the primary as their candidate. He has stated in the past that he is against it and yet on the campaign trail he has made no mention of it and the advisers tohime are doing a great job of keeping this out of the media's hands as well. To me values and morals and beliefs are things that center an individual and make that person stand for who they are and what they are about. You can't teter-toter over the issues at all. My father told me that a person is to be held in accountability of the things he believes in and the actions that he takes throughout his/her life. I have seen recently that for Mr. Kerry and Mr. Bush there are some issues of party swaying taking place and I believe that a party leader is just that. He should stand for what he believes and bring that strength into the party and let the party develope around his strengths and beliefs not the way it is now. The party stands behind these candidates but I believe that these candidates stand behind the money and influencial groups that support their parties and that isn't how this country was founded. The forefathers gather for a reason on unity and brought to the table their stengths and off of those key elements they forged a nation that was strong and maintained a consistency within their actions and beliefs. There were no Enron's, MicroSoft's, Union's, etc that influenced them to make the group decisions that made this country what is today. I don't mind the opinions and the influencing of individuals within the political realm I just that when a man or woman say that they stand for something they should stick to their guns and not have them hindered by others for the sole purpose of getting by. Maybe that is the real question for this nation is that when do we stop with the attitude of just getting by and begin with the attitude of wanting to achieve more and not settle for good but rather strive for the best and have honor behind what they have put forth. I thank yo for the time and possibly the posting of my opinion.

Posted by: Jesse at March 17, 2004 06:21 PM

My view of john kerry will be forever tainted by the fact that he prompted, and urged his fellow soldiers to protest the vietnam conflict, by throwing their medals at the White House. Then later it was discovered that Kerry had either kept his own medals clenched in his hand... or gotten them back from off the ground...since these same medals have been on display in his office recently. Not to mention the slander kerry heaped on his fellow soldiers, making all of them feel ashamed and hopeless.

Posted by: Kent at March 20, 2004 04:07 PM

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