Carol Platt Liebau

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

There's a little discussion going on at National Review Online about whether Senator Kerry's joke (saying that he, Schieffer and President Bush are "three examples of lucky people who married up. Some would say maybe me more than others.") was effective. And Hugh Hewitt, always esteemed here, gives Kerry's response an "A". I disagree.

First of all, the line was obviously prepared -- calculated to address a perceived (and real) problem for Kerry. But worse, it didn't have the right elements to be funny. When the President makes fun of his syntax, well, it's obvious and although sometimes embarassing, but it's not important in the grand scheme of things. In a word, it can itself be funny, and so when the President makes fun of it, he's being self-deprecating in a rather charming way. It wouldn't be funny if he made fun of something "real," like the perception that he's stubborn.

But Kerry's repeated ability to find rich women to marry isn't just embarassing in the same silly way that leads the President to be "misunderestimated." It plays on a very visceral fundamental sense among people of both genders about the role of money in marital relationships, perhaps? There was a "ick" factor there -- maybe because Kerry seemed to be so smarmily complacent about the fact that he's basically a kept man? That he didn't even seem to be truly embarassed? Something about it set one's teeth on edge.

Maybe it comes down to this: Having poor syntax is a disadvantage, but it's nothing to be embarassed about. Allowing your wife's first husband to subsidize your extravant lifestyle is.


Blogger troglodyte said...

All I wanted to do was to post a compliment on what I thought was an insightful and accurate analysis of the debate. I was amazed at how many gateways I had to pass to do that. Is this really necessary?

10:31 PM  
Blogger Carol Platt Liebau said...

Troglodyte: I don't know. I am learning, bit by bit, day by day, how to operate this blog (and some of my readers have been very helpful -- thank you!). Do note my email link above -- can always email directly, as most tend to do, at

Thanks for your kind words before the helpful observation! :)

10:42 PM  
Blogger tobaccoroadnc said...

I missed the debate tonight and checked to see your take on the outcome. I found the wrap up to be very informative. Well done!

11:42 PM  
Blogger A said...

I agree with you that Kerry's response was embarrassing. I didn't think of it being a prepared response, that's a great perspective. I don't recall Kerry being self-deprecating like President Bush, but maybe he prepared the "joke" to attempt to have that sort of charm that I think the President does have.

When I first heard it I took it more like "here is a funny thing I'm saying about all three of us men" and then he realized that his joke was actually even more funny/embarrassing since he (Kerry) truly did "marry up", and he had to, of course, mention that.

BTW, I didn't have any problem commenting, so I don't understand the complaining. Its certainly not your fault if someone has technical difficulties!

2:32 PM  
Blogger Grumpy Old Man said...

If I were asked that question, said nothing nice about my wife and immediaely seguëd to her dead mother-in-law, I'd be sleeping on the garage floor for a month . . .

6:58 PM  

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