[Normally I don't try to explain the clever witticisms of my title pictures. This is, in part, because no one ever seems to notice -- much less appreciate -- them. But in this case, recounting the path might shed light: based on the title of the post, I looked for images of johns, as in guys who patronize prostitutes. Not much from which to choose. So to be more precise, I searched "john sting..." Enough said. Besides, I don't want to distract from the point of the post. For that, we have Frankie.]
....about John McCain and John Kerry, and how the two men were and are portrayed, and how things have turned out, in real life. McCain and Kerry have quite a bit in common. Both long-term Senators, both lifetime “government employees”, both veterans, hell, they both married wealthy women (the second time around), so there’s some similarity even in their personal lives.
They’re also members of a very exclusive club. They both lost Presidential elections.
And that’s where the similarities end.
After John Kerry lost to George W. Bush, he returned to the Senate and simply did his job there, and he’s continued to do his job there.
Kerry lost, big, on climate change this year and he still rallied and led on START, rather than booking time on cable shows to bitch.
Kerry didn’t subject the country to two years of bitter griping, temper tantrums and petulant demands. Kerry didn’t pursue purely personal vendettas against whole groups of voters who (allegedly) “betrayed” him. Kerry didn’t flip-flop on each and every policy position he has ever held. He voted and votes the same way he always did. John McCain, remarkably, considering what we were told about him, has done all those awful things since his loss in 2008.
In the 2004 Presidential election, political media and pundits portrayed John Kerry as an elitist, foppish, slightly silly “flip-flopper” who lacked character and core convictions. The same political media and pundits lovingly and carefully nurtured the fairy tale that John McCain is a rock-ribbed, Country First, straight-shooter. Events since tell a radically different story.
How can this be? Wasn’t this script supposed to run the other way? Could they have been more wrong?
Of course it's about character, and about perceptions. It's about startling differences in grace, in seriousness, in effectiveness particular to those two men. But it's also about the laziness and the herd mentality of the media, and of the consumers thereof. In the fastest of fast-drying concrete, such conceptions and misconceptions become cast. Kerry was a flip-flopping elitist; McCain was sturdy, heroic, patriotic (Kerry, who risked his life to save others in Vietnam, wasn't), a man of high principle. And, like a pack of hyenas, the media swallowed the narrati, made them entrenched, never veered, once established, from their shared wisdom. Insight.
How sadly and completely they fail their obligations. How easy it must be to do that sort of "journalism." And how destructive.
My question is this: is such shallow punditry the chicken, or the egg? Who leads whom? From where do the stupid come?