The Corner

Live From The Real-Deal Express

I’m riding in the Kerry bus with reporters and a bunch of Kerry supporters decked out in red “the real deal” t-shirts. At the urging of aides who tell him it would be a better way to be “among people,” Kerry sits down at the very back of the bus. That’s where the reporters are. I ask Kerry if there are any other issues where there are two Howard Deans. He stares at me blankly for a moment, I think maybe my question is somehow too opaque. I ask whether there are any other issues where Dean talks one way when his record suggests something else. Kerry stares blankly some more. Finally, after an agonizing silence that had made me very uncomfortable, Kerry lets loose with a “Yes.” I venture another follow-up: “Like what?” He syas, “Well, I’ll, this is not, I’ll, at the appropriate time….” He sounds like a senatorial version of the marble-mouthed King of the Hill character Boomhauer. Then, after a pause, he adds, “You guys know it, you just want me to say it.” It seems to me that if you are going to attack someone for not being a real straight-talker, you should do it in a straightforward fashion. But Kerry seems to have some other tactic in mind. Here is some rank, totally uninformed speculation: Last night some of us overheard Kerry adviser Bob Shrum telling Kerry as they parted for the night, “Let’s do it, but let’s not do it piecemeal. Call me later.” Maybe the “it” was going after Dean as a phony, and maybe Kerry has, for now, decided to do it piecemeal.

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