August 11, 2004

Kerry and the Cambridgians.

Cambridge doesn’t like Kerry much, Rachel Donadio reports in the August 2 issue of the New York Observer. Her source is New Republic editor (and Cambridge resident) Martin Peretz:
On Sunday evening, at a reception for Harvard alumni in U.S. government held in the airy main lobby of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, Robert Boorstin, the senior vice president for national security at the Center for American Progress, summed up Cambridge’s enthusiasm for Mr. Kerry with a noncommittal "Eh!" as he turned his hands palms up in a gesture that drove home the point. "He’s not like Teddy Kennedy," said Mr. Boorstin, eyeing the bar. ….

[T]he Cambridge smart set’s affections for Mr. Kerry are surprisingly lukewarm, not unlike those of so many Democratic constituencies who dated other candidates before marrying Mr. Kerry. Of course, Mr. Kerry is a Yale man, and so perhaps the situation is different in New Haven. As Mr. Peretz put it, "This sounds very parochial, but there’s not the intrinsic Cambridge interest in Kerry the way there was for Kennedy and Gore, simply because there’s no Harvard connection." Still, it’s strange that for all the years he spent as a Massachusetts career politician, this year’s Democratic contender never seems to have forged particularly close ties with the Cambridge intelligentsia.

Unlike Mr. Gore, whose enthusiasm for the environment made him the darling of Cambridge scientists, "such enthusiasm as there is for Kerry is not because of any prior deep commitment that Kerry had to any issue that people identified with intellectually or politically or morally," said Mr. Peretz. "I think that Al—I’m prejudiced about him—that Al was never threatened by meeting with people who were smarter than him. He pursued those contacts to enhance himself. I don’t know that Kerry has ever really done that." …

New grist for the is-Kerry-dumb mill.
"Canterbridgians are a very peculiar, narcissistic lot. But everybody is for him," Mr. Peretz said. "And if one raises a friendly word, however modest, about Bush, one is sent into the dunce corner: ‘How could you?’, etc."

"We’re a little bit spoiled in Cambridge," said firebrand Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, speaking by phone from his home on Martha’s Vineyard. "People my age remember Bobby Kennedy and John Kennedy. Everyone remembers Clinton, and whether you love or hate him, he was the most charismatic guy in the room. Kerry is not the most charismatic guy in the room. He may be the tallest guy in the room. He used to be the best-looking guy in the room."

No way! What room was that? Okay, Dershowitz was there, but who else?

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