Washington Babylon — July 3, 2008, 6:58 am

James Wolcott on Bob Kerrey’s “Recipe for Loserdom”

I’ve been away for the past week so over the next few days I’m going to catch up by posting some of the best stories and items I read on vacation. First up is this terrific piece by James Wolcott, which should be savored word by delicious word. In it, Wolcott eviscerates former Senator Bob Kerrey (“one of those bipartisan junkies who thinks the only way to solve America’s problems is to glue an Abe Lincoln beard on Sam Waterston and heed his craggy wisdom”) for the unsolicited advice he recently offered Barack Obama on how to conduct himself with John McCain. Obama should handle Kerrey’s advice “with tongs and dispose of in a plastic baggy,” Wolcott writes:

Kerrey’s message to the Democratic victor is that he should take the initiative and strike a preemptive note of cooperative assent with his opponent, emphasizing their shared goals instead of sharpening and highlighting their differences. “From this comes a modest proposal and an immodest wish: That Obama begin now to look for opportunities to say to McCain: ‘I agree with you on that.’” Stuffing words into Obama’s mouth, Kerrey offers a rollcall of issues on which Obama can reach out and ally himself with McCain…

This is so wrong I barely know where to begin. First of all, it’s boring–if Obama wants to disillusion even more Democrats than he has recently, the best way to do it is by mouthing mush such as, “I agree with you about the need for a comprehensive solution to immigration–help me help you help me to help America.” And what is John McCain going to be doing while Obama is doing all this agreeing?–he isn’t going to face pressure from the Republican side to make similar overtures to Obama. The voters, watching Obama strike one note of harmony with McCain after another, are going to think, Hell, if McCain is right on so many issues, why not just vote for him to begin with? Why go for the echo when you can have the golden-oldie original? The time for Obama to be conciliatory and solicit McCain’s help in the Senate is after he’s beaten his ass in the general election, not before.

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I sat in a taxi with Emma and her son, Stak, all three bodies muscled into the rear seat, and the boy checked the driver’s I.D. and immediately began to speak to the man in an unrecognizable language.

I conferred quietly with Emma, who said he was studying Pashto, privately, in his spare time. Afghani, she said, to enlighten me further.

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