Sunday, July 11, 2004

Johnnies B. Okay

Almost good . . . .

Caught the Kerry/Edwards interview on 60 Minutes tonight. Not the whole thing, but most of it. Most notable - John Kerry's hands. While Leslie Stahl interviews the two men, each time Edwards enthusiastically and unyielding fights the good fight on the "tough" questions - whenever he put his hand on Kerry's arm, saying "no, I'm gonna finish this," you could see Kerry fidget, hands wrining, forcedly smiling, doing his damnedest to look encouraging and happy with his partner's performance.

Edwards performed admirably. He is, in many ways, Kerry's second wife, warmer and with less baggage than Theresa's been saddled with by the media. He looks adoringly at Kerry, stands up for him, and cleans up his smaller messes - like his answers to questions on his war vote and whether he'd do the same in Iraq. I found Kerry's answers deeply unsatisfying as he accused Stahl of making him repeat himself - the surest indication that the candidate himself has spun himself up in a tangled, qualified answer. He made the right vote at the time - he voted for war "as a last resort" - he doesn't regret his vote. Repeat: he doesn't regret his vote. Shame, isn't it?

In a way, I suppose, the Democrats' embracing of last week's Senate Report sans focus on the Administration's effect on both gathering and employment of the now-"officially"-bad intel, helps protect their candidate. Here, Bush, we won't blame you (at least not officially by voting No on the report and by allowing the heavier questions to be answered AFTER November), and our candidate can more officially qualify his war vote so that the whole party sleeps better at night (and runs a smaller risk of offending the still brain-washed masses).

Ouch.

Edwards says, however, unqualified and unwavering, John Kerry wouldn't have done Iraq the same way, and he wouldn't do anything like it in his presidency:

"I know you want to make this black and white, but the difference is - if John Kerry were president of the United States, we would never be in this place," adds Edwards. "He would never have done what George Bush did. He would have done the hard work to build the alliances and the support system."

This answer, as good as it is, and as well as he delivered it, doesn't clear my memory of Kerry's carefully crafted answer to the question "are you for or against the war?" Kerry thinks the way we went to war was a mistake. And yes, Ms. Stahl, that was the answer to your question.

And, of course, Edwards repeated his pledge that in a Kerry/Edwards administration, no young Americans will go to war needlessly. I hope not.

The second part of the interview featured the would-be First Wives Club, along with their candidate husbands. Stahl noted, in a voice over on a bit of B-roll showing John and Theresa Kerry having a mini hand-war on where to best place or how to best hold hands. Stahl made it seem like the scene showed them as inexperienced. I found it a human moment, one familiar to anyone who's ever tried to hold anyone else's hand.

If John Edwards is Kerry's second wife when it's the two of them, then Elizabeth Edwards is the group wife when it's the four of them. She's calm, eloquent, adoring minus needless saccharine, and right on message at all times. She explains Theresa, she explains John Kerry, she explains her role - and Theresa's - as a spouse in the race. She could've been talking about gardening, cooking, or a New York Times editorial for all her calm assessment and matter-of-factness. She and her husband are of similar disposition, but the team would be wise to make her the heart of the operation, rather than her husband.

When Stahl asks about the handicap that is Kerry's lack of charisma, Elizabeth Edwards chimes in that he was charismatic enough to win incredible woman Theresa - so that must be something. It was the perfect response, better than Theresa's statement that her last husband wasn't so charismatic either.

A solid performance from all. 60 minutes editing was noticable, however. I had the feeling I was missing key parts, pauses, phrases, etc. For the first joint television interview, I'd say it was a success. Except that part about the war votes. We gotta work on that some more.

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