Clearing the Fog
in the
War of Words


  logomachy--1. A dispute about words. 2. A dispute carried on in words only; a battle of words.
logomachon--1. One who argues about words. 2. A word warrior.



Kerry an Empty Suit

Kerry an Empty Suit

It's a common hack on John Kerry that he has a ponderous, wooden delivery on the stump. Certainly he sounds as though his mother was frightened by Franklin Roosevelt intoning a date which will live in infamy or a rendezvous with destiny.

I suppose he makes a lot of people want to yell "Yeeeargh!" (Democrats anyway. Republicans more likely want to cry "Yahoo! Bring it on!".), but not me.

I've known John Kerry was an empty suit since June of 1972.

One Saturday morning that June, Jim K---, the Washington, D.C., area coordinator for the Vietnam Veterans for a Just Peace, and I went down to the DNC HQ about 8:30 or 9:00. Jim was going to tape a discussion with JFKy--representing the Vietnam Veterans Against the War--on amnesty for draft evaders that the DNC would distribute to college radio stations. In the course of the discussion, Kerry (in his de rigueur field jacket as a "Vietnam Vet") avoided addressing Jim's point with "Well, Jim, you just have to consider the higher modalities of the situation".

I've treasured that phrase--"higher modalities"--ever since. As in "Me shillelagh will take the discussion to the higher modalities of disputation". Over the years, I've used it once or twice to evade those annoyingly penetrating questions that kids ask. It's too late, now; they just look at me and say "Like, what does that mean?"

Incidentally, that was the weekend before the "Watergate break-in". Jim and I walked into an empty, unlocked DNC office and then adjourned for coffee to the Howard Johnson--yes, that one--across the street to give Kerry and the DNC rep time to appear. If the Plumbers had come to me, Gerald Ford would never have been President.



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