Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Revolutionary or Apparatchik?

Last night I listened to a radio show which played an hour's worth of John Kerry's debate and testimony in '71 and '72 when he was a member of Vietnam Vets Against the War. One could argue endlessly about what he said. What struck me in listening to him was his intensity, sincerity, steadfastness, and passion. Here was a very articulate guy not waffling on anything-- totally unafraid to take a stand.

What happened? How did he get from there to today's pompous, floundering, unsteady, ungenuine windbag? The difference between the two Kerrys is striking. (Though he may yet win, even his biggest supporters should recognize he's been a poor candidate.)

I see two factors.

One is that people peak at different times in their lives. Kerry peaked at age 28, and now is a shaky and muddled shadow of that earlier version.

The other factor is that what thirty years of being part of the System does to a person. Thirty years of being muted and molded; compromising and being compromised; pushed hither and yon so that of his earlier beliefs and principles hardly anything remains.

What's indisputable, to me, is that he was a more vital and compelling force when he was a revolutionary outside the gates, than today, as a designated candidate.

The analogy to the lit world is obvious.

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