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Political Real Estate: John Kerry's Room With A View

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  • Arianna Huffington
    Political Real Estate: John Kerry s Room With A View June 30, 2004 By Arianna Huffington Among the headline-grabbing disclosures from the Clinton Rock and Roll
    Message 1 of 69 , Jun 30, 2004
      Political Real Estate: John Kerry's Room With A View

      June 30, 2004

      By Arianna Huffington

      Among the headline-grabbing disclosures from the Clinton Rock and Roll
      Revival World Tour — ranging from the former president once dreaming of
      being a doorman at the Plaza Hotel to his being on the South Beach diet —
      was a little noticed morsel in the Boston Globe noting that Clinton has
      advised John Kerry to "campaign as though Iraq was stable, the economy was
      going great guns, and bin Laden was dead… concentrating on selling

      Thanks, Bill, but maybe you should concentrate on selling your books.
      That's got to be the worst advice given a presidential candidate since
      someone told Mike Dukakis to put on a helmet and hop in that tank.

      Of course, Clinton is just offering Kerry what has always worked for him:
      It's all about me, stupid!

      And if you're Clinton — and it's 1992 — maybe that works. But Kerry's not
      Clinton (which is not to say that's a bad thing) and 2004 bears no
      resemblance to 1992. Trying to get Kerry to be more like Clinton is like
      trying to get Ian McKellen to be more like The Rock — it just ain't in the

      The problem with Clintonism as a political strategy is that its namesake's
      political gifts are not transferable — so Clintonism shrivels like a
      pricked balloon without the outsized persona of the Man From Hope.

      "How many Democrats," a Kerry staffer worried, "are going to look at Bill
      during the convention and think, he's still the best candidate we have?"

      But while Clinton was, is, and will always be a better candidate than
      Kerry, Kerry has the potential to be a better president than Clinton — and
      a far greater leader.

      The Roaring Nineties were the perfect era for a virtuoso politician like
      Clinton. The post-9/11 age calls for a candidate who can turn the focus
      onto the people he wants to lead — on their struggles and their dreams and
      their desire for unity and a better life for their children.

      It calls for a candidate like John Kerry, who this week told those
      gathered at a Rainbow/PUSH Coalition conference, "The stories of your
      lives have become the work of my life. I am running for president to be
      part of making your dreams real again. To fight with you in your

      As I was pondering the divergent appeals of Clinton and Kerry over dinner
      with a friend, he told me the story of trying to sell his house — a small
      but comfortable home in Santa Barbara, Calif., with an absolutely
      breathtaking view. He first tried to sell it with a flyer featuring a
      photo of the house, but didn't get a single offer. He then swapped the
      photo of the house for one showing the spectacular view from the porch.
      The house sold — for well over the asking price — within a few days.

      The point being: You gotta play to your strengths.

      John Kerry's house is fine. It's a good house, a house with a tremendous
      foundation. But it's the view — his transformational vision for America —
      that will sell him to the country.

      Clinton was all about sparkling fixtures and interesting decorating
      flourishes — remodeling the Democratic Party with triangulation and
      realpolitik touches. During his presidency, the pragmatic argument had it
      that, with the country split, there was no appetite for grand visions,
      just for legislative knickknacks and policy odds and ends. The Cold War
      had ended, and we could afford to tinker.

      But that was then. What the times call for now, and what Kerry must do, is
      give the Democratic Party — and American politics in general — an extreme
      political makeover.

      The good news for Kerry is that since Sept. 11 the country is in a much
      more sober mood — looking for a responsible leader who will remind us that
      we are all in the same boat together. Hope, community, inspiration and
      real national security — as opposed to Bush's perpetual anxiety, fear,
      pessimism and division — are the features America's voters are in the
      market for.

      In making the media rounds, Clinton seemed to suggest that laying low is a
      good strategy for Kerry, whom he praised for showing "a certain reticence
      given the seriousness of the problems in the world today."

      But Leader of the Free World is not exactly a stealth position. When you
      think of the qualities that make for a great president, does reticence
      make your top 100? Your top 1,000? Nor will reticence close the absurd gap
      in the latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll that has 51 percent of Americans
      saying they trust Bush as their commander-in-chief, compared to 43 percent
      who say they trust Kerry for the job.

      Advising Kerry to focus on upping his curb appeal is badly missing the
      point, which is that the Democratic Party actually has a candidate with
      the biography, the intellect, the heart, the chutzpah and the courage to
      offer voters a stirring view of where we should be headed as a country.

      If he does, I predict he'll be in escrow on the White House by Election

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    • Khairul Habib
      Message 69 of 69 , Jul 2, 2004
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