Wednesday, March 03, 2004

headless but potent
Kerry it is, then. Commentators I esteem don’t think much of his chances. He’s not only vacuous, but lifeless, say the Counterpunchers. He’s worse than a crime, he’s a blunder.

I’m not so sure. Kerry’s certainly a challenge to the attention span. But there seems to be something at work within the Democratic Party which makes me have more faith in their choice than I might have if we were judging by the usual political metrics.

Cut away their ideas and what they represent and you find that political parties are power seeking organisms. Let’s conduct a thought experiment. Imagine the whole of both the Democratic and Republican parties as two individuals. Invite them to state their cases in front of one of those spiffy town meetings that Americans seem so fond of. Grab each of them suddenly and cut both of their heads off. Which headless corpse flops about and collapses and which crawls slowly, grimly and inevitably towards the seat of power?

Casual observance of the primaries inclines me to believe that it is the headless Democrat. Consider the rise and fall of each candidate and the message put across by his progress. Dean came out swinging and hooting and banished the meme, much put about by Republicans, that the Democrats would be punished for even daring to fight seriously against Bush. But just as his rise seems inevitable, he begins to fade out. Meanwhile, the Dems are busy parading a general on a stick around the country. Having established that they are not “soft” – having flexed their biceps – Wesley Clark serves his purpose and is put aside. This leaves Kerry and Edwards. Youth sports its ideas and attractions, but duly gives way to experience and gravitas.

None of this was masterplanned or choreographed. Nor was it a matter of simply going along with party discipline. That would have got them another Alton B Parker. This was the hive mind of not-very-conservative-America at work, revealing its essential seriousness about the matter of power. Not-very-conservative-Americans have shown they want it badly and this year they seem instinctively to know where it is. His virtues remain a mystery to me, but the fact that they have chosen Kerry to go and get it for them tells in his favour.