Man Without Qualities

Monday, July 26, 2004

On "Shoving It"

The Associated Press reports:

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry doesn't have a problem with his wife telling an insistent journalist to "shove it" when urged to explain her plea for more civility in politics. Neither does Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. "I think my wife speaks her mind appropriately," Kerry told reporters.

I partially agree with Senator Kerry: His wife's comment was "appropriate" in the sense that it exactly expressed the quality of the thought behind it. Of course, her comment was grossly and obviously "uncivil" and, despite what her husband says, therefore completely inappropriate and hypocritical given the venue and the nature of the address she had just given.

But the incivility of her comment is not the most striking aspect of her behavior - that would be her sheer looniness in this event. Mrs. Kerry had told her audience "We need to turn back some of the creeping, un-Pennsylvanian and sometimes un-American traits that are coming into some of our politics." Minutes later, the Tribune-Review's Colin McNickle asked her what she meant by the term "un-American." As recorded in the video of the confrontation, she then agitatedly said "I didn't say that" several times to Mr. McNickle - quite clearly meaning that she had not said "un-American." A few minutes later she broke from a conversation she was holding with others and returned to McNickle, telling him: "You said something I didn't say. Now shove it."

But she had said it. He asked her what she meant by "un-American" and several times she denied having used that term and accused the reporter of putting words in her mouth. But she had used the term only minutes before in front of a lot of people and the videocam.

The AP also reports that Senator Hillary Clinton commented, "A lot of Americans are going to say, 'Good for you, you go, girl,' and that's certainly how I feel about it."

Somehow, despite the credibility problems of this source, I do believe that is exactly the way Senator Clinton "feels about it." But both Kerrys might not want to count Senator Clinton's feeling that way as a good thing.

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