Man Without Qualities

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Pathetic ... And Bound To Lose XIII: The Kerrymass Episode

The Woody Allen short story, The Kuglemass Episode, drops the hapless Kuglemass into Flaubert's Madame Bovary to conduct a discrete affair with the eponymous, randy Frenchwoman. Allen provides few details as to how such an amazing thing could be accomplished. But, as The Great Persky packs Kuglemass into the box that will work the miraculous projection, the magician exhales a single explanatory whoop: "This is all nuance!"

Senator Kerry intends his projection into the White House to be effected similarly - with Bob Shrum angling for the Persky role.

But I don't think the current strategy of "explaining" the Senator's bizarre claim that still-nameless foreign leaders personally looked him in the eye and expressed support for his candidacy was "really" a claim that those still-nameless foreign leaders disagree with some of the current President's policies is going to work. It's just getting the Senator deeper into the Old Self-Definition Muddy. He intends to present the episode as suffused with what the New York Times embarrassingly calls "nuance," but it's being seen for what it really was: bizarre and intentional misrepresentation.

That the Senator and so many of his media questioners keep returning to the episode, and the President is now personally drawing attention to it, strongly suggests that the episode is hurting the Senator significantly in private polls and focus groups.

Messrs. Kerry and Shrum may wish to recall that Mr. Kuglemass came to a bad end - ultimately projected into no novel at all, but rather into a book of remedial Spanish where Kuglemass is last seen fleeing over a barren landscape as the irregular verb tener ("to have") raced after him on its spindly legs.

The magician, Persky, dies when the magic box explodes.

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