Roger L. Simon

Not Too Swift

Reading the “full disclosure” of John Kerry’s less than distinguished Yale academic career in this morning’s Boston Globe (four Ds in his freshman year!), I was reminded of Woody Allen’s famous crack about 90 percent of life being about showing up. Evidently, not for Kerry. And this even though one of the not so secret secrets about Ivy educations is that once you’re admitted, it’s pretty hard to flunk out. In fact it’s pretty hard to get less than a B average.

Kerry was clearly not the brightest bulb, but we knew that. One of the more interesting obfuscations (deliberate and otherwise) that went on… and continues to go on to some extent… about the last presidential campaign is that Bush was the dumb one. In actuality, I always thought one of the reasons for Kerry’s famous flip-flopping, possibly the key reason, was that the Senator didn’t really understand the issues. I know this sounds rash and almost vicious, but he seemed to have some kind of cognitive disorder. There may be a lot of that in politics. After all, rational discourse is not often rewarded. Talking endlessly around a subject is.

No one knows that better than Bill Clinton who is a pretty smart guy for a politician, whatever one thinks of his morals. Returning to LA on the plane last night, I watched him being interviewed by Greta Van Susteren. When the subject turned to Iraq, it was obvious once again that he agreed with Bush, although he wouldn’t say so straight out. He used the “now that we’re there we should finish the (democracy) job” argument, but it showed in his affect he was glad we were there in the first place. This couldn’t be further from the Howard Dean wing of the Democratic Party, which, despite its veneer of East Coast hipness, is about as sophisticated as Mid-Western 1930’s isolationism out of a Sinclair Lewis novel. With Dean on one side and Buchanan on another, we are at a point in our history when party labels are about as useful an Apple II. Maybe we should recycle them.