Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Wisdom from Joe Klein's Politics Lost, Part 2

6. On John McCain:

It was one of the oddest qualities I'd ever seen in a candidate—entirely sincere and politically brilliant. . . . In one fairly dramatic example, McCain told me, unbidden, that the breakup of his first marriage was all his fault: "I've lived a very, very flawed life. I don't think people would think so well of me if they knew more about that part of it". . . .

"There aren't many of us who haven't done things we're ashamed of over the past 25 years," I said.

7. On Al Gore:

There was something about the vice president that simply demanded couchification. He was successfully analyzed by his opponents. He was unsuccessfully analyzed by his own consultants.

8. On John Kerry:

He proved weak, indecisive, and yes, aloof. At six feet, four inches tall, with a head of hair that came out of central casting and a sonorous baritone that slouched toward drone, he literally seemed to have his head in the clouds; there was a distressing, unfocused, soporific quality tot he man. The prevailing mystery of the Kerry campaign, especially for those who had known him longest—the Vietnam veterans he had led in war (and in peace marches)—was: Whatever happened to the courageous young leader who had risked his life to protect his crew in Vietnam and risked his political career to oppose the war when he came home?

9. On Bill Clinton

[A] womanizer of desperately bad taste.

10. On Howard Dean (paraphrased):

When the Democratic front-runner for president in 2004 said the capture of Saddam Hussein didn't make America safer, "the real problem was that Dean didn't seem particularly happy that Saddam had been captured—in fact, he seemed disappointed that the president's war effort had succeeded in any way."

11. On Mario Cuomo:

In 1982, I traveled through New York State with Mario Cuomo, who was more than 30 points behind Ed Koch in the Democratic primary for governor. The biggest issue in the race was the death penalty, and Cuomo was on the wrong side of it. And yet, at every stop, Cuomo insisted on explaining his position; if the audience didn't ask him about the death penalty, he'd bring it up himself. "You might well ask me how I'd react if a member of my family were the victim of a brutal crime," he would posit, in an eerie prediction of the question that would boggle Dukakis in 1988. "Well, my daughter was recently assaulted on the street in our neighborhood by a man who burned her breast with a cigarette. My son Andrew got into the car with a baseball bat and looked all over the neighborhood for the guy—and I've got to say, if I'd ever caught up with him ... [ellipsis in original] well, I can't guarantee what I would have done. But I'd be acting on my worst impulses, my momentary anger. One of the purposes of the state is to protect us from our worst impulses—and the desire for vengeance is one of the very worst. So, lock 'em up. Throw away the key. But don't succumb to our worst impulses, our vengeance."

12. On Democratic words that work (paraphrased):

Greenberg and Clinton devised a brilliant euphemism for spending money: "investing" in the future.