Man Without Qualities

Thursday, February 13, 2003


This post should not be read in any sense as taking pleasure from Senator Kerry's medical condition, and I wish him a fast recovery. Nor would I wish a condition such as his on him or anyone else.

That being said, I note that the Senator has energetically presented his condition and surgery as minor. On its face, this post abides by the Senator's energetic presentation of his condition. But I admit to disingenuousness here, because the main point of this post is that Senator Kerry's presentation of his condition should not be believed without a great deal of additional proof.

The Senator presents his condition and surgery as posing no substantial impediment to his ability to run or serve as President. His doctor has fulsomely confirmed his patient's politically convenient self diagnosis. But his medical condition is potentially very serious. The same disease demolished Michael Milken's life and that of many other men, and was a major reason why Rudy Giuliani withdrew from his Senate campaign in 2000. The Giuliani precedent in particular indicates that Senator Kerry's current representations - even on their own terms - are manipulative. He is now attempting improperly to harvest public sympathy for his condition and surgery without cultivating the doubts that should inevitably come with that sympathy. The Senator is now publicaly showing insufficient respect for his own medical condition, and there is no good reason he should not be criticized for what he is doing now. There is no need to wait for his recovery - or for a indication that he is having more trouble recovering than he is now saying he expects - to point out fully what he is about. If one is supposed to be inhibited in criticizing him at the time of his surgery, then shouldn't one be all the more inhibited at the time he experiences "unexpected" complications? Is one only allowed to criticize Senator Kerry on this point if it all turns out for the best?

The Senator has established a substantial record of promulgating other energetic confections to advance his Presidential ambitions, including his preposterous claim to have been illuminated from within by a Jewish heritage which he has been concealing for fifteen years - and is now denying he has concealed. That misrepresentation is manipulative and serious, and shows that the Senator is perfectly willing to misrepresent his deepest and most personal characteristics. One should also keep in mind his multi-decade misrepresentation (also now denied) in highly-Irish Catholic Massachusetts that he has Irish Catholic heritage. As noted above, the Senator's medical condition is probably more uncertain than he is saying. But there is good reason to believe that if the Senator simply doesn't know whether his condition will be an impediment, or even if he affirmatively knows that it will be an impediment, he would misrepresent his knowledge to the public.

Given the Senator's record and the nature of his disease, nobody is justified in accepting the representations about his condition or prognosis, or those of his doctor, at face value.

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