Who's out of touch, here?
Joined: 04 Jun 2002
Location: Wisconsin, USA
|Posted: 03 Aug 2004 02:03:42 pm Post subject:
Who's out of touch, here?
|Could John Kerry slum it in the White House?
During their triumphant 1939 tour of Canada, King George VI and Queen
Elizabeth took a brief detour south of the border to visit the Roosevelts
at Hyde Park. It was the first time a reigning monarch had set foot on
American soil and, to mark the occasion, President and Mrs Roosevelt
introduced the royal couple to a local delicacy called "hot dogs".
There's an important lesson there: an American president, even one as
wealthy as FDR, is obligated to share the tastes of the people in a way
that the House of Windsor is not, even today. Try to imagine the roles
reversed: the Roosevelts at Windsor, and the King serving up jellied eels
and mushy peas.
And that's the problem with John Kerry: it's not that he's rich, but that
he's rich in a very un-American way. His swank has a European air about
When he eats a hot dog, it appears as foreign to him as it did to George
Even though his regal lifestyle is funded by the enduring popularity of
his wife's hot dog condiment.
Case in point: on Friday, the Kerry campaign bus was passing through
Newburgh, north of New York, and stopped at the local Wendy's. That's a
fast-food chain. I used to prefer them to McDonald's and Burger King,
because they used square patties between round buns and it was fun to
nibble the corners off. Hence the last time Wendy's figured in a
presidential campaign, 20 years ago, when Walter Mondale appropriated
their taunt to their competitors and turned it on Ronald Reagan: "Where's
the beef?" The preceding explanation is for the benefit of British
readers. It should not be necessary to explain what Wendy's is to any
American, even presidential candidates.
So the campaign team dropped in at the burger joint. Elizabeth Edwards,
the wife of Kerry's running mate, had told a heartwarming personal
anecdote at the Democratic convention about how every anniversary she and
her husband celebrate at Wendy's, because on their wedding night it was
the only restaurant they could afford to eat at.
John Edwards's campaign theme is a slice of warmed-over Disraeli: there
are "two Americas", one for the rich, one for the poor, and, even though
he's part of the former, he wants you to know that he started out in the
latter. Friday was the Edwardses' 27th anniversary, so, in keeping with
tradition, they hit the Newburgh Wendy's, along with the Kerrys, campaign
mascot Ben Affleck and accompanying press crew.
The photo-op didn't go smoothly. Kerry went over to say hi to some
marines, who turned out to be Bush supporters and resented the
interruption to their lunch. More telling was Teresa Heinz Kerry. She
pointed to the picture of the bowl of chilli above the clerk's head:
"What's that?" she asked. He explained that it was something called
"chilli" and she said she'd like to try a bowl. The Senator also ordered a
Frosty, a chocolate dessert. They toyed with them after a fashion, and
then got back on the bus.
It then emerged that Wendy's had just been an appetiser. The campaign
advance team had ordered 19 five-star lunches from the Newburgh Yacht Club
for Kerry, Edwards, Affleck and co to be served back on the bus: shrimp
vindaloo, grilled diver sea scallops, prosciutto, wrapped stuffed chicken,
I'm not sure whether Ben had the shrimp and Teresa the scallops, but,
either way, it turns out John Edwards is right: there are two Americas --
one America where folks eat at Wendy's, another America where the elite
pass an amusing half-hour slumming among the folks at Wendy's and then
chow down on the Newburgh Yacht Club's specials of the day. The Elizabeth
Edwards anniversary-at-Wendy's shtick was meant to emphasise her husband's
authenticity, but it now looks as inauthentic as Kerry's own blundering
"regular guy" routine.
I scoffed at Edwards's "two Americas" riff when he was peddling it in New
Hampshire, because its notion that there's the toffs in their mansions and
the great unwashed in their Dickensian workhouses and ne'er the twain
shall meet seemed complete bunk.
On reflection, I now see there might indeed be something to the idea of a
remote privileged class hermetically sealed off from the masses.
Unfortunately, John Kerry seems to be the best living exemplar of it. He
may not enjoy eating at Wendy's, but his faux lunch order captures the
essence of his crowd-working style: chilli and Frosty. If I were the
Wendy's marketing director, I'd make it the John Kerry Special from now
through election day.
In 1992, pictures of a baffled George Bush pere marvelling as a
supermarket clerk demonstrated a barcode scanner were seized on by the
media as evidence of how out of touch he was. But barcode scanners were
introduced to supermarkets during his 12 years at the White House, and a
sitting president or vice-president doesn't get many opportunities to go
grocery shopping. The difference between Bush Snr and Kerry is that Prince
John of Gaunt seems far more isolated from the rhythms of American life
and he hasn't even got to the White House yet.
The tonal disconnect is only going to get worse between now and November.
At the convention last week, Ted Kennedy urged Americans to make sure
that, this January, John Kerry has a "nice new home". But, thanks to his
wife's first husband, he already has five multi-million-dollar homes,
including a 15th-century stone barn dismantled and shipped over from
England to serve as their ski chalet in Idaho.
By contrast, George W Bush has one modest ranch in Crawford, a town no one
would choose to live in unless it genuinely was his home. As Noemi Emery
put it in the Weekly Standard, Kerry is not just "the richest man ever to
run on a national ticket", but also "the most self-indulgent in his
lifestyle, and the most quasi-royal in his sense of himself".
That gives a whiff of condescension to his chant of "Help Is On The Way",
a slogan already a tad too crudely nanny-statish. On the other hand, it's
a very good catchphrase for Senator Kerry if he's back at the 15th-century
ski chalet in Idaho and Teresa is complaining because she rang for a
Scotch five minutes ago. "Don't be so impatient, lovie. The help is on the
By Mark Steyn
Johne (Phy) Cook | Overlord, Ray Gun Revival
Joined: 13 Apr 2004
Location: houston, teXas
|Posted: 03 Aug 2004 03:55:10 pm Post subject:
Re: Who's out of touch, here?
|Phy wrote: |
|His swank has a European air about it. |
his *hair* has a european swank about it as well.
Joined: 07 May 2004
|Posted: 03 Aug 2004 06:45:48 pm Post subject:
Re: Who's out of touch, here?
|Phy wrote: |
|Kerry is not just "the richest man ever to
run on a national ticket",
I thought Ross Perot was.
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