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Monday, January 31, 2005

Today's hot and not-so-hot headlines, and tomorrow's hot TV ad

I was bemused to note the order of the headlines in this morning's edition of the Washington Post online (which has since been reshuffled with news that's broken during the day today). The news of the incredibly successful and historic election in Iraq of course led the headlines, followed by news of SBC's planned acquisition of AT&T, further tsunami relief efforts, and so on.

Then deep down, way down in the "Other Headlines" section, just before a genuinely important story headlined "Bartender, Pour Me Another Cup — Perhaps Inevitably: Caffeinated Beer," there was a headline reading "Kerry Praises Campaign, Plans to Build on Effort: Democrat Wants to Keep 2008 Options Open" whose accompanying story reveals the following:

Former Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kerry ... in an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press" yesterday, praised his own campaign for coming close, and said he intends to "build on the campaign" by continuing to be a leading voice of the opposition.

Unsuccessful Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John F. Kerry describes his party's slight mishandling of the Ohio vote manipulation on NBC's 'Meet the Press' yesterday"I lost, Tim, to an incumbent president by a closer margin than an incumbent president has ever won reelection before in the history of the country," the Massachusetts senator told NBC's Tim Russert. "And if you add up the popular vote in the battleground states, I won the popular vote in the battleground states by two percentage points. We just didn't distribute it correctly in Ohio."

The interview capped a series of events — including a trip to Iraq, a speech on health care and two mass e-mails to supporters — serving notice that Kerry wishes to retain the national voice he gained as his party's nominee during Bush's second term. Current and former advisers in recent weeks have said that Kerry's competitive instincts leave him inclined to seek the option of running for president in 2008, and that he intends to keep his profile sufficiently high to preserve that option.

Once again I find myself questioning WaPo's editorial judgment: The availability of caffeinated beer — predicted by an episode of The Drew Carey Show some time ago — is obviously a much bigger story than anything John F. Kerry might have to say these days, and should have been given preferential billing.

Still, even the comedic genius of Drew Carey would find it hard to improve upon Sen. Kerry for absurdity. He "lost by a closer margin than an incumbent president has ever won reelection before"? I think if we unmangle that syntax, he was saying that of incumbent presidents who actually won reelection, Dubya had the smallest margin, meaning (I suppose) that Kerry is less of a big-time loser than other losers who've lost to incumbent presidents, and less of a big-time loser than incumbent presidents who lost their reelection bids. I suppose that this (bad-)lawyer-speak tangle of thoughts and words is supposed to distract us from remembering, for example, about semi-incumbent loser Al Gore in 2000, and about actual incumbent loser Jimmy Carter in 1980.

The very best line, of course, is: "We just didn't distribute it correctly in Ohio." This sounds suspiciously like something that —

(a) a Politburo chief might have said about slightly awry vote totals in a Soviet election in the mid 1970s;
(b) an Iraqi Baathist political boss might have said about slightly awry vote totals in a Saddam Hussein election in the 1990s;
(c) a Democratic party boss might have said about slightly awry vote totals from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas or Cook County in Illinois at any time during the past century; or
(d) all of the above.

The correct answer, of course, is (d). But thus does the junior senator from Massachusetts attempt to pre-spin history's writ on where he will rank in the pantheon of famous losers.

Meantime, while Kerry struggles to stay in the news by a boondoggle visit to Iraq, (yet another) speech on healthcare, and two "mass emails," newly inaugerated President George W. Bush — basking in the glow of another noble gamble that's paying off bigtime as the Iraqis celebrate their successful elections — continues leading the nation and the (expanding) free world. For this, I am thankful. For John Kerry's drop into the marginal, also-ran headlines, I am doubly thankful. I withhold judgment on caffeinated beer until I've tried it, but there's a chance here of a gratitude hat-trick in today's news.

However, I sense a great potential here should American Express choose to revive its great advertising campaign of a few years ago. Amex could probably get a sweet package deal in Massachusetts on the specific actors they'd need. The TV commercial fades in with an overhead shot inside a neighborhood bar in South Boston, in which two guys in suits are trying to get the bartender's attention through a noisy, thirsty crowd. One tries putting on his tanker's helmet, and the other puts on his mystery CIA-guy hat from Cambodia, but it doesn't work for either of them.

Suddenly they're saved by a more familiar face, someone who crashes a path through the crush of bodies — nobody gets, or stays, between Teddy Kennedy and a bartender — and the crowd parts like the Red Sea before Moses' outstretched hands. And as the bartender goes to fetch their drinks, Teddy, Mikey, and John-Boy hold up their Amex cards to the camera and say in unison: "Do you know me? I ran for president in" —and they respectively finish their lines — "1980," "1988," and "2004!"

Then Teddy slaps down his Amex card on the bar and shouts, "Barkeep! Caffeinated beers for the house, on my Senate expense account!" Cut to a shot of Theresa standing at the end of the crowd, holding a pink poodle and wagging a finger at John while mouthing the words, "Decaf for you!" He rolls his eyes, but holds up his own platinum card and says, "The American Express card — don't leave home without it!"

Posted by Beldar at 07:04 PM in Humor, Politics (2006 & earlier) | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to Today's hot and not-so-hot headlines, and tomorrow's hot TV ad and sent a trackback ping are listed here:

» Catching my eye: morning A through Z (UPDATED) from The Glittering Eye

Tracked on Feb 1, 2005 2:39:57 PM


(1) seePea made the following comment | Jan 31, 2005 8:42:44 PM | Permalink

TK ran against Carter in 1980.

(2) Tommy Shanks made the following comment | Jan 31, 2005 9:30:20 PM | Permalink

Great to have you back.

(3) recon made the following comment | Jan 31, 2005 9:50:46 PM | Permalink

Now you'll just have to admit it -- wasn't that fun??


(4) Rancifer made the following comment | Jan 31, 2005 10:32:39 PM | Permalink

He's back in the saddle riding, writing and maybe soon drinking tall (caffeinated) ones.

Glad to be able to read your thought again.


(5) Beldar made the following comment | Jan 31, 2005 10:48:00 PM | Permalink

seePea, you're right of course, and I blush at my error (which I've corrected in the text above) in saying 1976. Thank you; mea culpa.

(6) Neo made the following comment | Jan 31, 2005 11:56:58 PM | Permalink

We are left to ponder which has the longer shelf-life, caffeinated beer or John Kerry's word that he will sign a Form 180 ?

I'd gamble on the former.

(7) krakatoa made the following comment | Feb 1, 2005 12:58:48 AM | Permalink

Nice to see something new.

I can definitely relate. The year(s) leading up to the election were seemingly non-stop debate, and de-bunk, with and of the media.

Post-election it was an absolute luxury to leave the deeper thinking to others.

Good to see you writing again though. Let's face it: we don't really pay you to fritter your time away being a lawyer.

And don't get all lawyerese on me breaking down that last sentence!

P.S., I see you enjoyed the music of Cold Mountain. The closest I come to knowing celebrity is I've shared a bottle of potato vodka with Riley Baugus, who wrote and played some of the music for CM, as well as made some of the instruments in the movie.

I highly recommend you check out The Songcatcher. More great mountain music, and great acting. It is sublime, visually, thematically and musically.

(8) Ron made the following comment | Feb 1, 2005 1:45:30 AM | Permalink

It's like a heroin addict on methadone. Oh the suffering of no Beldar. You just don't seem to realize how insightful and informative you are to read. Actually, you are one of the few "adult" blogs worth reading. Really good to see you back in the saddle again. (Ermm, no copyright infringement intended).

(9) Aram made the following comment | Feb 1, 2005 3:48:42 AM | Permalink

The short hiatus sure did you good! Wonderful post! Thanks a million!

(10) capitano made the following comment | Feb 1, 2005 8:52:55 AM | Permalink

My favorite was this:

And then in 2003, you said, "I'm blessed to be wealthy, but rich people are getting checks from poor people well beyond what they put in the system. Another idea is raising the cut-off point. Maybe we ought to raise it to $100,000, $120,000."

Specifically, Senator, do you still agree with yourself? Should we raise the retirement age, or consider it? Should we raise the cap on income level that people pay payroll tax?

Of course you know the answer: He agreed with himself before he did what? Anyone? Anyone?

(11) thecoffeeguy made the following comment | Feb 1, 2005 10:56:27 AM | Permalink

wait a minute - this is a big story...

Where can I get this caffinated beer you spoke of? Can I order it online?

(12) Bryan Lovely made the following comment | Feb 1, 2005 6:32:51 PM | Permalink

I'm holding out for caffeinated gin. Or tonic. Your choice.

(13) Boger made the following comment | Feb 1, 2005 8:46:58 PM | Permalink


Please, Madam or Sir, enlighten me as to when Kerry said he would sign Form 180? Have I passed through a time warp?


(14) capitano made the following comment | Feb 1, 2005 11:45:59 PM | Permalink

Maybe some enterprising journalist will start a daily JFK Form 180 Watch.

RUSSERT: Many people who've been criticizing you have said, Senator, if you would just do one thing and that is sign Form 180, which would allow historians and journalists complete access to all your military records.

Thus far, you have gotten the records, released them through your campaign. They say you should not be the filter. Sign Form 180 and let historians...

KERRY: I'd be happy to put the records out. We put all the records out that I had been sent by the military. Then, at the last moment, they sent some more stuff, which had some things that weren't even relevant to the record.

So when we get -- I'm going to sit down with them and make sure that they are clear and I am clear as to what is in the record and what isn't in the record, and we'll put it out. I have no problem with that.

RUSSERT: Would you sign Form 180?

KERRY: But everything, Tim...

RUSSERT: Would you sign Form 180?

KERRY: Yes, I will. But everything that we put in it, Tim -- everything we put in -- I mean, everything that was out was a full documentation of all of the medical records, all of the fitness reports.

And I'd call on those who have challenged me, let's see their records. I want to see the records of each of those people who have put up a challenge, because some of them have some serious questions in them...

RUSSERT: So they should sign Form 180s for themselves as well?

KERRY: You bet it.


(15) Beldar made the following comment | Feb 2, 2005 12:12:29 AM | Permalink

Now I'm completely red-faced and sputtering. As another reader kindly emailed me to point out, Dukakis ran against GHW Bush in 1988, not 1992, and I've fixed the text above to reflect that as well. Mea culpa maxima!

(16) Boger made the following comment | Feb 2, 2005 1:56:51 AM | Permalink

Capitano, thanks.

All is now clear. I see our boy is still doing the fandango. How I miss the campaign.

Well now, you see, Russert obviously had the F180 question souped up and ready to go. Cool. Serves to further ensure that any future run by El Lamo will begin with Question Number One. But why did't Little Tim have the cohones to go all the way with: Well, Sir, I just happen to have one of those puppies right here. (I'll bet the thought crossed his mind.)

(17) piaknow made the following comment | Feb 11, 2005 8:59:25 AM | Permalink

Hey Skunks,
Can't wait till Kerry releases the F180 Huh?
Well when that happens You all will be looking kind of like assholes right? Bet you jerks are already thinking how to put the best spin on this one.
I want to see That pussy O'Neil and the other dickheads 180's too. You people have no limits to how far you will sink into the slime.
C'mon Georgie Let's see your 180 I'm stiil waiting for one credible witness to his Bama time. Nah, course that doesn't bother you that your privileged fratboy hero dodged going to fight and him and ole dickie boy got their asses out of that one didn't they? You people are so hypocritical it makes me sick.
Have a nice day

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