September 12, 2004

Kerry submits to an interview!

John Kerry's long avoidance of interviews had gotten to be awfully conspicuous, and he finally submits. Time's Karen Tumulty receives the favor of his responses. Let's see how he does. Much of the time he robotically plugs in the well-worn lines of his stump speech. This is interesting, in response to "How would you go about winning the war of ideas in the Middle East?":
What I intend to do is to put in play the economic power, the values and principles, the public diplomacy, so we're isolating the radical Islamic extremists and not having the radical extremists isolate the United States. It means bringing religious leaders together, including moderate mullahs, clerics, imams—pulling the world together in a dialogue about who these extremists really are and how they are hijacking the legitimacy of Islam itself. That takes leadership, and that leadership has not been put on the table.

You have almost 60% of the populations of Egypt and Saudi Arabia under 30, and 50% under 18. We have to engage in a way that offers them some alternative to the radical madrasahs that are educating them to hate and to go out and strap explosives around themselves.
It would be a bold move indeed for the President of the United States to convene a meeting of Islamic religious leaders--moderates only!--and to attempt to lead them to reshape the meaning and culture of Islam. Time's next question is, let's get back to politics ... how about those Swift Boat ads? What's the point of getting an interview if you don't press with follow-up questions? Kerry is constantly making claims that he will bring leaders together and win cooperation. This is the first I've read of a plan to lead a religious reformation. How would he do this? Why is it more than a pipe dream?

Least believable assertion: "Polls don't mean anything to me right now." Runner-up: "I didn't see one minute of the [Republican] convention." Most hard-to-believe assertions strung together in a single answer (to the question whether he wishes he'd responded more aggressively to the Swift boat ads):
No, I think we did absolutely fine, and I think we are doing absolutely fine. I think this is a close race, and it's going to be a close race. I think we are doing extraordinarily well. If anybody had told me we'd be points apart from the sitting President of the United States, well, would you have believed them?

I feel very confident in where we are and confident about the direction of this race. And the American people are beginning to listen and listen carefully.
I like the last part especially: Kerry has long relied on the assertion that people either haven't started listening yet or are not listening carefully. For example, if you still don't think you know what he will do in Iraq, you're not listening!

Bottom line: a puff interview.

UPDATED: Bad link for the Time interview corrected.

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