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Spotlight Back on Kerry, but Reshaped Role Eludes Him

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Mass Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-24-11 07:20 AM
Original message
Spotlight Back on Kerry, but Reshaped Role Eludes Him
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/24/us/politics/deficit-t...

A feverish scrum of reporters was in such pursuit of Senator John Kerry last Friday that he was chased all the way from a Senate meeting room to the subway under the Capitol, where in the chaos a blizzard of secret papers from debt reduction talks went flying from his arms. It was an inelegant moment, particularly for a onetime Democratic nominee for president, but Mr. Kerry stooped down and gathered up his own documents before he made an escape.

...
This week the nation learned just how tough as the bipartisan panel tasked with deficit reduction announced its failure, triggering $1.2 trillion in automatic budget cuts over the next decade and enough recriminations to last through next years presidential election. For Mr. Kerry, an American foreign policy elder and an unlikely member of a panel that delved into the minutiae of federal finances, the breakdown deprives him of a role he sought, a domestic policy statesman as comfortable with tax codes as statecraft.

A victory would have burnished, or so the Washington wisdom went, his rsum for secretary of state, should there be an Obama second term.
...
Mr. Kerry does in many ways appear changed from the presidential candidate of 2004, when he exasperated his party as stiff, slow to respond to President George W. Bushs attacks and trapped in his own labyrinth of words. For a few hours on Election Day, exit polls indicated that Mr. Kerry would be the victor, but he needed 59,000 voters to go his way in Ohio (he lost by more than three million votes nationwide) and returned to the Senate tagged with the reputation of a liberal, highly partisan loner. He was largely missing from major action on Capitol Hill for the next few years.

Mr. Kerry, 67, disputes that narrative by saying that he was busy as the chairman of the Senate Small Business Committee, but that few paid attention. I wasnt going to sit around and mope, he said. Still, he acknowledges how difficult it was to come back.
...


I am not sure what to do with this article.It seems to me that, though the article is polite and respectful, the goal is to portray Kerry as a loser.
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-24-11 12:28 PM
Response to Original message
1. This seems eeriely like a rewite of past NYT Kerry articles
- all framed the same. Here, you almost get the picture of an elegant former Presidential nominee working as a janitor! In fact, Kerry is a "loser" only compared to what he aspired to. Could it be because Kerry has been seen as a Presidential since he was 27, thus having more to live up to than other politicians? Each time they have written it, the thing they describe Kerry doing is important and honorable, though they then say it is not what he would have wanted. They do grudgingly credit him with stature in foreign policy - which after his work on START and in his work in Afghanistan and Pakistan, they had to do.

Note that the NYT has never framed Senator Schumer as a "loser" because he never became a Presidential nominee. The fact is that out of all the people born in a two decade period, you would expect no more than 10 people to win a major party's nomination - and that ignores people getting it twice. Nor do they ever suggest Hillary Clinton is a loser, yet she failed to even get the nomination and that was with HUGE forces helping her - rather than fighting to stop her. It is true that she became Secretary of State, but that was an honor GIVEN to her, not earned. What makes all this "auditioning for Secretary of State" most annoying is that it assumes that it is given to the person who demonstrated the most skill for that role. If that were true, he would have been named in 2009. This is something the NYT may never admit, as they were strongly for HRC to be President and have tried to gold plate her work as SoS - even crediting HER with convincing Kharzei to have the runoff. ( http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph... - link to DU JK, because Beachmom's comments are priceless. )

Here, no one in either party could have emerged a "hero". To do that, you would have to get an agreement that pleased their base. There was no agreement that would please either side's base, because none could get 7 votes. A compromise in the middle was also precluded, because the Republicans would not accept tax increases to the wealthy as compared to where their taxes would be when the Bush cuts expire.

What they ignore, is that Kerry was the strongest voice of the Democrats on Sunday and Monday when both sides tried to explain the failure - and the Democrats won the spin, in spite of the media favoring the Republicans in their framing. (Consider how much more credibility was given to the Toomey plan, which was concept more than plan and which had numbers that did not add up, compared to the Baucus plan, that was a serious plan. ) It was Kerry getting out the impact of the Norquist pledge and Kerry getting out the moral frame. It is not random that he was the one quoted - not the 5 other Democrats.




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Luftmensch067 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-24-11 02:02 PM
Response to Original message
2. This is one of those articles where I finished reading and immediately
went to look up the reporter to see if she had some ties to the Clintons or something. Another classic hatchet job, in my opinion. She was given access to an actual interview with JK and prefers to throw his quotes away in favor of her preconceived frame that he is a loser who has done little except seemingly by chance during his congressional career. Karynnj is right -- this is just one of a long line of similar articles in the NYT intended to downplay JK's merit and achievements. What's too bad is that it is already being spread as creditable reporting, as here: http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/24/the-early... / which has this as its opening paragraph:

Todays Times:

As a vocal member of the deficit reduction committee, Senator John Kerry recently found himself back in the spotlight. But the committees inability to reach an agreement denied him a win that might have strengthened his chances of becoming secretary of state though the Massachusetts Democrat denies that was his intention, Elisabeth Bumiller reports.


Personally, I'm horrified by the image of reporters hounding this dignified, eloquent man to the point of apparently chasing him and causing him to drop what he was carrying and then this "reporter" pretending to listen to him and then disrespecting every word he said. That is really disgusting behavior.
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ObamaKerryDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-24-11 03:20 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. Could not agree more, Luftmensch!
Especially this part right here: Personally, I'm horrified by the image of reporters hounding this dignified, eloquent man to the point of apparently chasing him and causing him to drop what he was carrying and then this "reporter" pretending to listen to him and then disrespecting every word he said. That is really disgusting behavior.

Me too! :thumbsdown: You know, I found this article on Twitter and RTed it before reading it, which I did right after...and immediately regretted it. And the NYT is supposed to be the "liberal media"..blah! Of course sadly, many liberals constantly take for granted and undervalue him as well, as we all know, all too well... so frustrating! :banghead:

I did enjoy the bit about JK's homemade Thanksgiving stuffing! :) Possibly the best part of the whole article, which has so many flaws, I don't know where to begin! *sigh* Pretty sad when the BH's was better..and I NEVER thought I'd say that..!
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-24-11 03:34 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. So true - after all he could have gone on to do great things like all other former candidates.
He could have followed Dole's example and done commercials on Viagra and one for Pepsi ogling a 19 year old like Dole did. The fact is he has far more post run accomplishments than other candidates. (Gore did a good job as well.)

Elisabeth Bumiller covered Bush in 2004 - and she was as impartial as a Beatles Groupie might have been in covering John Lennon! Kerry was covered by reporters that among other things argued he was a "social loner" and defended it by saying she spoke to 20 live long friends and this was her impression. (I don't think I am a social loner and I have nowhere near that many life long friends.

Note too the illogicalness of this affecting him getting SoS. There are a LONG list of things he did good in foreign policy - far longer than the list the SoS herself has. If it were merit based, not political, it would have been Kerry in 2009.
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ObamaKerryDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-24-11 03:40 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. 100% cosign everything you just said..
Edited on Thu Nov-24-11 03:41 PM by ObamaKerryDem
..and LOL@ your first sentence.... :rofl: True, though!

I also was left scratching my head at the SOS speculation in regards to the SC-illogical indeed. I'd expect something like that from the BH, not the NYT!

And again, this is the so called "liberal media"..
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-25-11 11:01 AM
Response to Reply #5
6. My immediate thought was that she had it absolutely backwards
Imagine that Kerry was able, from some miracle or magic, to have gotten 7 people to sign onto a package that included a stimulus, raised taxes on the wealthiest slightly closing the wealth gap, and included tax reform in the form of closing loopholes - eliminating some of the power of lobbyists while making for simpler, fairer taxes. Would that make him better as Secretary of State?

Or would the fact that he was the one sent to Pakistan after Davis was killed or sent to Afghanistan when Kharzi was refusing to follow the country's election laws - and succeeded more than could have been expected be the real test of whether he would be not just a good SoS, but an incredible diplomat.

Or would the fact that Kerry, more than anyone else, was instrumental in getting more than the 67 votes needed for START out of a Senate where it was a fight to get 60 for anything make him an excellent SoS in terms of dealing with Congress. Here, at least one republican (McCain) voting against it praised Kerry's management of the bill. For hours on the Senate floor, Kerry took on every Republican argument and answered them intelligently, convincingly and with no show of frustration or anger. ( Corker referred to him having the patience of Job.)

Or would the fact that he is one of the few Democrats to have articulated foreign policy values for decades make him a SoS,who like Kennan could become known as someone who developed a foreign policy vision that would inform future SoSs?

The fact is the three alternatives are why the media, that has never done him any favors, listed Kerry as the obvious front runner in the speculation of whom Obama would choose. But, it is worth looking at what was behind Obama's choice. The public reasons - the Lincoln analogy of bringing in your rivals and the speculation that HRC's star power would make her enormously successful never seemed real. I suspect the reason is that Obama gave it to Clintonistas who were appalled that HRC would return to the Senate as a fairly junior Senator with little organizational power - though these same people in 2005, took the opposite view refusing to give Kerry the leadership role that he earned as standard bearer. What NO ONE said was that her background made her the best diplomat, a skilled interface with Congress or someone with a well developed foreign policy vision.

In fact, though she has been good running the State Department, she has few diplomatic accomplishments to point to (oddly, Kerry's are more impressive and not his day job), Biden, not HRC was the administration person most involved in the START efforts in the Senate, and, though she has given some foreign policy speeches, no one has postulated a Clinton foreign policy vision.

Now, back to the first conjecture, would Kerry success here have made it more likely that he would be SoS? My guess is that he would then be bypassed because he is far too valuable in the Senate. As it is, from many accounts, he did win the respect - if not the agreement - of some of the less right wing Republicans. However, it is not likely that he or anyone can move the Senate back to being functional.

One other point, note how Bumiller inserts certain things as given - like Kerry doing little from 2005 to 2008. The fact is that Kerry/Feingold eventually became the Democratic position about 6 or 7 months after it was defeated - with both Obama and Clinton, who both spoke and voted against it, taking the key elements as their plan. On the domestic side, the most important issue was really whether to filibuster Alito - something Schumer a few years after the fact said he should have led. The NYT was completely disreputable on that issue. They had an editorial begging the Senate to filibuster. This was on the same day that Kennedy and Kerry argued unsuccessfully for the leadership to do. Failing, they immediately started on their own - doing a great job reaching out to Daily Kos and other sites to get people to lobby their Senators. The NYT covered this by writing a column that could have been written on any RW site - mocking Kerry as calling in from the Swiss Alps. (He was at the same place that McCain was at - but the NYT referred to McCain being at the premier world economic summit - a place where you might expect the only man on both the Finance and SFRC to be.) They clearly were calling for Hillary to lead this - and it could have succeeded with whole hearted leadership support.)

Not to mention, Kerry was incredibly important to the 2006 effort to get Democrats elected - and was praised for this even by Rahm Emmanuel. (Here at least Bumiller does not ignore this and write of the botched joke.)

This does show what Kerry was up against - in 2004 and later. My suspicion is that although it could be personal, it is more likely that the NYT leaned to the "neocon" in 2004 and still likely does. The confusion is that on non-foreign policy issues, they are liberal and progressive. However in 2004, their main issue was foreign policy - and they praised Bush's second inaugural address' "spreading democracy" theme to the heights, without pointing out that this was NOT what he said throughout 2004 - and that the reason was that had he done that, he would have lost. It is very likely that there are many people at the NYT that do not want him as SoS. However, that will be just Obama's choice and it is clear that JK would easily be confirmed - even if they do subject him to a nasty confirmation.
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Inuca Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-28-11 07:15 AM
Response to Reply #2
9. Not only he drooped the papers
but he was "inelegant" in picking them up. Ridiculous!!!
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-28-11 11:03 AM
Response to Reply #9
10. For a nearly 68 year old man toquickly retrieve the papers as he did,
would usually be mentioned to note his agility. Not only that - given all the elitist crap the media propagates - it sounds like he was without aides getting on a subway! How does one elegantly pick up papers?

This article is SO stupid that most would have sympathy with Kerry's answer to her bizarre idea that the committee was an audition for SoS. (Even that it ignores that neither Clinton or ALbright ever had to pass a "test" of that type. To me, it almost seems like the genre of fairy tales where the prince must pass a series of impossible tests to gain the princess or the kingdom. If there was a "test", he passed it in Afghanistan and Pakistan.)
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Inuca Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-28-11 04:07 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. With a pirouette? :-)
And speaking of serious stuff, the latest from Pakistan is scary :-(
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-28-11 04:58 PM
Response to Reply #11
13. Don't really want to imagine how the right would report a pirouette
from the tall Senator capturing all the papers before they even land.

Pakistan is scary and it is not clear how they can deal with it. The thing that sticks in my head from the long NYT magazine profile on Kerry was the comment that he was the first to apologize (sincerely) for the loss of life caused by Davis. He may be the American they trust most and consider a good person, but it is not clear that this hasn't made it impossible for the already weakened government to work with any American to fix relations.
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ObamaKerryDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-29-11 05:26 PM
Response to Reply #10
15. Exactly!
Edited on Tue Nov-29-11 05:41 PM by ObamaKerryDem
Somewhat of an anecdote, but a kind of similar instance is when JK had stopped to talk to attendees after his Newburyport town hall in May. I had gone up to get a flier from the town hall signed for a friend who couldn't be there and who had never gotten the opportunity before--she lives in France :) . JK had just graciously signed it and I was, after of course thanking him, turning to leave when I dropped my flyer, Newburyport town paper, and a few other items I was carrying (both out of the fact that there were people right up against me and quite frankly the excitement of it all lol :)). JK jumped right in to pick them up for me--quickly--and to make sure, as he said, I had my papers. (I still blush thinking about it these many months later..how awkward on my part lol but how gentleman like of him!). So I think this should go to JK simply being a gentleman or someone who is just considerate of others, not how "elegant" or not he is (though I think it's pretty darn elegant for him to go out of his way like that, in my case and in the case of the article-without aides to do it for him like most Congress people!).

Just another example of how unfairly this man gets treated by the majority of the press, even (and sometimes sadly, especially!) the so called "liberal media" *sigh*
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-29-11 05:48 PM
Response to Reply #15
16. What a wonderful story
The really sad thing is to know that the Boston Globe reporters who cover him often HAVE to know that that is who he is.
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Mass Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-26-11 08:24 AM
Response to Original message
7. This paper in OH exalts Sen Portman's attempt to find a deal. Compare with the tone of the Boston
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Luftmensch067 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-26-11 09:04 AM
Response to Reply #7
8. Good point, Mass
Which makes this recent comment on the article kind of hilarious!

PistolGrip

9:45 AM on November 26, 2011

OK, maybe I'm becoming paranoid in my advancing years but reading the headline in The Enquirer: "Portman's Defeat" sure left me with the impression that Rob Portman was solely responsible for the committee's failure to agree to negotiate a debt-reduction plan. I wonder if The Boston Globe's headline was "Kerry's Defeat".
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Mass Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-28-11 04:36 PM
Response to Original message
12. I just reread this article and I cannot believe how incredibly stupid it is.
Favorite line "or so the Washington wisdom went, ". If this is Washington wisdom, it is probably not worth too much.

And this "He was largely missing from major action on Capitol Hill for the next few years".

I am sure that the New York Time wrote his share of articles on how filibustering Allisto and siding with Feingold to write the Out of Iraq Bill were grandstanding. But you cannot be grandstanding if you are out of the action.
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-28-11 05:08 PM
Response to Reply #12
14. THe NYT did write articles,
but... they mocked Kerry on filibustering Alito, once HRC did not step up to do so as their oped clearly asked. They concentrated on behind the scenes comments that Kerry was hurting the party doing this and that it wouldn't work. Until it failed, and they pointed out that if all the "nos" filibustered, they could have won.

On Kerry/Feingold, they had a whole NYT magazine article that wrote of the party leader's actions and views behind the scenes. They agreed with people like Hillary Clinton and Levin, not wanting Iraq to be an issue because Bill Clinton thought that being on record with an alternative plan on Iraq would hurt in 2006 -even though the reason for the wins was precisely Iraq. Kerry did the right thing and it became the policy of the party, though he has never been given credit.

Your point is well taken, even their own articles show he was not "out of action". It is interesting that they portray Hillary who avoided the Senate for a month and a half after losing - as not losing a beat -and Kerry, who did return when the Senate reconvened as staying out of the action. They also ignore his first email which was in November, 2004.
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