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Thank God for Pastor Ted, but this Silly Kerry Thing Could Still Hurt

11/05/2006 10:36 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

I suppose we should be grateful. If that Kerry thing is the best they can come up with in the way of an October surprise, then so much for the vaunted Rove machinations. Although, who knows, maybe conspiracy theorists can create a scenario that puts Kerry in the service of the Dark Forces Behind the Bush Regime? I mean, he did concede Ohio awful fast back in '04, remember? In the teeth of evidence of systematic voter suppression, if not actual ballot box manipulation. Maybe Kerry's a sort of Manchurian candidate, only he's been programmed to blunder every time Teresa suggests a game of canasta?

But seriously. This completely innocent (though characteristic) faux pas (French is apt here) could actually make a difference. Here's why. It REALLY is hard for a lot of people to turn away from Bush, really hard. And as the day of decision approaches it will get harder. That's why the polls are now tightening. For people in that constituency turning against the "Commander-in-Chief in a Time of War" feels like they self-betrayal, a betrayal of their own identities as down-to-earth everyday heroes untainted by elitist affectation etc. etc. It feels like they are conceding that the Left Coast smoothies were right all along--and that goes deeply against the grain. Because it doesn't feel like a concession on an issue, it feels like a concession on a way of life.

In a nutshell, for a lot of people, to turn away from Bush on the war would be like admitting that only a bunch of yokels would have believed him in the first place.

That's why the specifics of this botched joke are so important. The thing couldn't be more perfectly shaped to arouse resentment if it had been designed by to do just that. It precisely reminds people of why they can't stand progressives.