Man Without Qualities

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Remember That Bar Code Incident ...

... that so bedevilled the first President Bush's efforts to present himself as in touch with ordinary people?

Well, Senator Kerry has a list of stories (link from DRUDGE and John Ellis) to top that one as long as your arm:

[P]eople ... call in and tell their John Kerry stories. The phone lines are soon filled, and most of the stories have a common theme: our junior senator pulling rank on one of his constituents, breaking in line, demanding to pay less (or nothing) or ducking out before the bill arrives. The tales often have one other common thread. Most end with Sen. Kerry inquiring of the lesser mortal: "Do you know who I am?" .... In 1993, for instance ... he managed to give a total of $135 to charity.

Yes, Senator Kerry seems to be a quite ordinary person in at least one very important respect. He's an ordinary jerk.

Incidentally, some bar code experts say former president Bush didn't deserve the derision heaped on him when he expressed amazement at product scanning for supermarkets. "It was a new, two-dimensional bar code that contained far more data than the old kind." Senator Kerry doesn't seem to warrant any such benefit of the doubt in the stories reported above.

It would be ironic if the difference in this election were made by simple, old-fashioned good breeding. The kind of good breeding that wealthy Yankee families traditionally inculcated into their children. It's the kind of good breeding that's practiced in the Bush family - the kind of good breeding that makes Maureen Dowd fume. Don't cut in line. Always send thank-you notes. Always be "nice." Remember, you have more than others. Support charities. And most of all, don't ever, ever say things like "Do you know who I am?" This kind of good breeding is not just a product of benevolence - although there's plenty of that stuff to go around in old, rich, Yankee families, which are often both very personally thrifty and very socially generous. This kind of good breeding is the product of enlightened intelligence. It is just plain stupid for any person, especially a wealthy person enjoying high elected office, to say something like "Do you know who I am?" in public.

Get that: It's stupid.

Senator Kerry is not a stupid man. But it's not too strong a word to describe the activity.

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