WASHINGTON — John François Kerry’s 2004 campaign for the presidency is taking on endearing aspects of Boy Clinton’s 1992 campaign. Does that mean this Democratic contender will in the end defeat another Bush? This I cannot say. I will say that as long as the French-looking, cologne-scented, junior senator from Massachusetts remains in the race the media’s fact checkers are going to be kept on their toes.
In 1992 the fact checkers were repeatedly called to their posts to review Governor’s Clinton’s ongoing revisions of his draft record. They worked overtime on the Boy Candidate’s constantly evolving elucidations of his marijuana adventures, his anti-war demonstrations in London, and that mysterious trip he took behind the Iron Curtain in 1968. Fact checkers were summoned to action when a woman by the name of Gennifer Flowers appeared with a tape on which the Governor appeared to be coaching her in the art of deceiving the press. And when the Governor’s position on the first Gulf War was challenged, the sorely pressed fact checkers went into action once again.
Looking back on 1992, we can see that the Democratic candidate’s many collisions with the truth served as a preview to the eight years ahead, a series of lies and contradictions that left the fact checkers exhausted, their role in American journalism increasingly controversial. Liberals and Democrats had cause to question their patriotism. Hillary Rodham Clinton doubtless had them in mind when she warned of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. Now we have another Democratic candidate fit to seize Clinton’s mawkish title, Comeback Kid. Kerry has even endured rumors of a sex scandal, and the girl in question was an intern at that.
Actually, John François Kerry has endured more scrapes with the truth at this stage in his campaign than Boy Clinton, though most of the scrapes have been less momentous. Back in 2003 there was the scrape over whether or not he had ever claimed to be Irish. There was the refutation of his claim that his first speech in the Senate had been in favor of Roe v. Wade — it had been in opposition to cruise missiles. Now there are the many contradictions in his statements about what he did with his military medals, how he won them, and precisely how anti-American his war protests were. Did he attend a protesters’ meeting that discussed murdering American politicians? He says no. Others say he did. And a member of Kerry’s campaign called at least one anti-war veteran from those faraway days of protest, asking him to change his reminiscence of Kerry the war protester.
One day Kerry is explaining why he met with Vietnamese communists outside Paris while our nation was at war with them. Another day he is caught cussing a Secret Service bodyguard. In that scrape he also was caught claiming he does not fall off his skis, though reporters saw him fall half a dozen times. Now he is entangled in a row over whether he, a pro-abortion Catholic, should be taking Holy Communion. Then too there is the question of how much he paid a barber from the celebrated coiffeuse Cristophe to cut his hair before he appeared on Meet the Press. The talent was shipped to Pittsburgh before Kerry went on the show. The authoritative Drudge Report insists the price was $1,000. Kerry insists he is being victimized by the radical right — his predecessor in victimhood, Boy Clinton, endured a Cristophe scandal too.
It is 1992 all over again, and I rejoice. Yet I doubt many Democrats share my joy. Some are even wondering if they have settled on the wrong candidate. The left-of-center Village Voice recently predicted the Democratic “biggie” will jettison John François for a more reasonable candidate. The Voice mentioned Dr. Howard Dean. The Vermont enragé would satisfy me.
Still, whatever happens to the Kerry candidacy one important matter ought not to be lost from sight. Kerry’s problems stem from the fact that he is a fantasist. He has created illusions about himself and then believed his own illusions. He gets in trouble with reality because for him the only reality is his fantasy, the fantasy that he is a great man and — oh, yes —that European leaders have talked to him and told he they hope he wins in 2004. Remember that little fantasy?
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