Sunday, August 01, 2004

THE MIRROR HAS TWO FACES How did the convention go for Kerry and the Democrats? Ask NewsHour contributor and New York Times columnist David Brooks:
I thought [Kerry's daughters] did a superb job of setting him up and in the introduction of his speech he talked about his mother and the Girl Scouts and riding his bike in East Berlin. I said that was sort of new, not entirely new.

But, you know, it introduced him quite well to the American people. So this was a guy who opened up a little more than usual, and I don't know if it will totally dispel the aloof charge but he did quite a lot better.


This was a [Democratic] party that six months ago seemed to be moving to the left, a lot of energy on the left, Howard Dean on the left, Michael Moore on the left.

What we saw this week was the rise of a muscular centrism, and that's going to be quite effective. The Republicans are going to come back on their first night with their own version of centrism, Giuliani, McCain, Schwarzenegger. They've better be positive.

I think the lesson for Republicans is you're not going to destroy this guy John Kerry. You're not going to disqualify him from being president after this week. You're going to have to make the other alternative that you've got your own version of muscular centrism.

Voters don't have to risk with somebody new because they've got somebody acceptable. Maybe [Republicans] do have to get a little more positive from here on out.

--Brooks on The NewsHour, July 29, 2004.

The Great Co-opter [Kerry] has to try gauzily to please everyone. He has to play to the 86 percent of the delegates who say the U.S. should have stayed out of Iraq, as well as the Clintonite foreign policy elites who supported the war. He has to play to the Sharptons as well as the Liebermans.


What the Democratic Party is going through is not yet a genuine muscular centrist revival. As a friend joked, from the voters of Iowa to the delegates in Boston, there's been a vast left-wing conspiracy to present a candidate who looks like a muscular moderate, but they picked someone who is not in his heart of hearts a muscular moderate, or anything else.

--Brooks in The New York Times, July 31, 2004.

The July 31 column would have been due--at the very latest--early in the evening on the 30th. So we're talking about an evolution that took place over less than 24 hours.

I'd love to see a record of phone calls in to Brooks during that period.

CONTRAPOSITIVE is edited by Dan Aibel. Dan's a playwright. He lives in New York City.