Marrying Up

by Kieran Healy on October 14, 2004

Over at Volokh, recent addition Jim Lindgren is making me regret once more their loss of Jacob Levy. Here he is complaining about the supposedly appalling moderator bias that caused Bush to lose last night’s debate (again):

Given Theresa (“no blood for oil”) Heinz Kerry, the only hard question John Kerry got all night was “I’d like to ask each of you, what is the most important thing you’ve learned from these strong women?”—and Kerry got to listen to Bush’s answer first. UPDATE: — OK, so Kerry should have answered the question about what he learned from his strong wife in this way (I’m recylcing a joke I heard last spring): [What KERRY might have said]: I developed my economic plan for the country from interacting with both my wives. Now I just need to find a rich country for the US to marry.

Clearly, Jim feels that whereas marrying into money is unseemly, being born into it is evidence of one’s good judgment. Is the parallel lesson that the US can spend the next 40 years drinking, partying and wasting Dad’s money on incompetent schemes, but still have things work out great?

{ 29 comments }

1

Mike 10.14.04 at 4:33 pm

Jim Lindgreen is single-handedly trying to turn what I used to regard as the best read on the Internet into something resembling Instapundit without the links. Please, Eugene, make the silly man go away.

2

brayden 10.14.04 at 4:48 pm

Jim is right about one thing: Schiefer was a horrible moderator. That question was just one of many softballs the candidates fielded last night. This is the kind of question you expect to hear in a Barbara Walters interview – not in a presidential debate. It’s no wonder more people watched the Red Sox/Yankee game.

3

Chris Martin 10.14.04 at 4:58 pm

Brayden, Jim’s complaint was not that Scheifer was a bad moderator, but that he was a biased moderator. On that count, Jim was wrong.

4

nadezhda 10.14.04 at 5:01 pm

A shriller version of Kieran, from Faisal.

5

Jacob T. Levy 10.14.04 at 5:25 pm

For the record– even though a) I was rooting for Kerry and b) I don’t think Bush needs any help to lose debates– I thought Scheifer was pretty clearly biased, throwing meatball after meatball to Kerry and phrasing questions in peculiarly loaded ways.

Schiefer didn’t make Bush lie about his bin Laden quote, or make him take the bizarre tack of telling people over and over again that they’re really better off than they think they are (Guardsmen, veterans, the unemployed). Bush did all that all on his own. But, yeah, I’d certainly judge Scheifer to be disqualified from future debate moderation duties.

6

abb1 10.14.04 at 5:37 pm

Well – why couldn’t we have a candidate in this election who is neither a drunk-turned-messianic-christian nor billionaire’s husband? Y’know, someone like Kucinich, Dean or even Clark.

7

Matt Weiner 10.14.04 at 5:42 pm

Yo, what does “abb” stand for?

8

abb1 10.14.04 at 5:48 pm

True, it does mean ‘anybody’. Nevertheless…

9

son volt 10.14.04 at 6:00 pm

The preposterous imputation of liberal bias to Bob Schieffer aside, the right seems mostly to object to the debates framing the election as a referendum on the Bush presidency. But everybody seemed to think that Reagan’s “are you better off now than you were four years ago” was a fair criterion in 1980. Why isn’t it a fair criterion now?

10

adam scales 10.14.04 at 6:08 pm

Do you think this is a fair characterization of Lindgren’s post? Always beware ellipses. Had you quoted the post in full, it would have been obvious that Lindgren updated his post to add a joke he had heard.

I thought Kerry’s line was pretty funny. Would it have been fair to report on it without noting the obvious humor he intended?

Obviously, this is no big deal. But that’s exactly the point. Too often, political blogs stretch a point, it seems to me, simply to come up with something to post. Frankly, I’d put most of Slate’s “Kerryisms” and “Bushisms” in this category, as well as this comment about Lindgren.

If you don’t like the guy, find something more substantive to criticize. But, if you have to use ellipses, you might reconsider.

11

aphrael 10.14.04 at 6:17 pm

Volokh lost Jacob Levy? That must have happened while I wasn’t paying attention. Can anyone fill me in on what happened?

12

Giles 10.14.04 at 6:26 pm

“what is the most important thing you’ve learned from these strong women?”

I think the soft ball part of it is that Teressa isnt a “string woman” she came from a well off family, flitte around in swtizerland then married a fortune.

The correct responce would be that no she’s a rich brat

13

raj 10.14.04 at 6:38 pm

Quite frankly, I’ve often wondered at some portion of the blogosphere’s fascination with the Volokh site. Sometimes it’s ok, sometimes it’s dreadful, sometimes it’s good, rarely is it insightful. It’s better than Reynolds’s sight, but that’s not much of a compliment.

14

catfish 10.14.04 at 6:48 pm

I have to speak up in favor of volokh.com. I think people read it because Eugene’s thoughtful style makes him a rightwinger that lefties can turn to for sane analysis. His posts are carefully argued, and he usually addresses the opposing view without mockery, ad hominem dismissal, or unfair characterization of the argument. In short, he seems to be arguing in good faith even if you disagree with him. Levy was also good, as was Tyler Cowen back when he used to post more.

15

catfish 10.14.04 at 6:52 pm

I have to speak up in favor of volokh.com. I think people read it because Eugene’s thoughtful style makes him a rightwinger that lefties can turn to for sane analysis. His posts are carefully argued, and he usually addresses the opposing view without mockery, ad hominem dismissal, or unfair characterization of the argument. Also, he normally sticks fairly close to his area of expertise, so his posts are usually more valuable than those of a generalist or a political junkie. In short, he seems to be arguing in good faith even if you disagree with him. Levy was also good, as was Tyler Cowen back when he used to post more

16

Kieran Healy 10.14.04 at 6:53 pm

Do you think this is a fair characterization of Lindgren’s post?

Yeah I do, and the link’s right there. But I’ll put a bit more quote in to make it absolutely clear.

17

Walt Pohl 10.14.04 at 6:58 pm

Jacob: This demonstrates the difficulty of judging bias. I thought the moderator had a pro-Bush bias, and that Kerry got the bulk of the “gotcha” questions.

18

djw 10.14.04 at 7:41 pm

I thought I saw softballs in both directions (Kerry esp. had big ones on the min. wage and “do you oppose the backdoor draft?”), but Bush had a few as well. The social security questions were ill-informed and poorly phrased, which worked against Kerry.

19

Uncle Kvetch 10.14.04 at 7:47 pm

I think the soft ball part of it is that Teressa isnt a “string woman” she came from a well off family, flitte around in swtizerland then married a fortune. The correct responce would be that no she’s a rich brat

Whereas George Bush, on the other hand…?

20

dfinberg 10.14.04 at 7:59 pm

Jim was enough to make me break out the volokh.com/?exclude=jim addtion. Works like a charm.

21

Matt Weiner 10.14.04 at 8:42 pm

Kieran, the link is broken for me; though the only other post from Lindgren I’ve read supports your overall estimate. (MoveOn says Bush said that Saddam sought uranium from Niger! But Bush said “Africa”!) I agree with catfish about the Volokhs overall, though.

Giles, I agree with you that Teresa Heinz is not “string.”

22

bob mcmanus 10.14.04 at 9:30 pm

I only had half an eye on it, with sound off and closed-captioning on. If the “marrying up” episode is the one that caused me to look up from the keyboard at John Kerry’s huge sustained shit-eating ear-to-ear grin…..it may have locked in the election for him. Just charmed the hell out of me.

23

Anonymous 10.14.04 at 9:32 pm

Bob Schieffer: Mrs. Heinz-Kerry, are you a string woman?
Teresa Heinz-Kerry: No, I’m a fraid knot.

24

anonymous 10.14.04 at 9:34 pm

Bob Schieffer: Mrs. Heinz-Kerry, are you a string woman?
Teresa Heinz-Kerry: No, I’m a frayed knot.

25

seth edenbaum 10.14.04 at 11:36 pm

Kerry was born rich, with relatives who had even more money. Now he’s married to a woman who married extremely well the first time around and who as a result has more money than he does.
Kerry and Bush are both ‘Bonesmen’ and the Times had even had a graph of their overlapping family histories. Bush and Kerry are distant cousins.

This is not a vote for Jacob Levy; I find them all unbearable, Volokh included.

26

anonymous 10.14.04 at 11:47 pm

test

27

son volt 10.14.04 at 11:56 pm

Just one more thing about Bob Schieffer, the one whose animus against Bush was so blatant that Mr. Levy (posting above) believes that Schieffer ought never to moderate a presidential debate again:

Bob Schieffer is not merely a friend of Bush’s. His brother Tom was, with Bush, a co-owner of the Texas Rangers baseball franchise. Moreover, Tom Schieffer is now the U.S. ambassador to Australia, and was appointed to that post by Bush.

28

DonBoy 10.15.04 at 2:49 am

To expand on Seth Edenbaum’s point, above: Republicans mock Kerry because he married into all that money, which is somehow unfair. Theresa’s money, of course, was inherited from her husband, Republican Senator John Heinz, who in turn inherited it from his own family. Did any Republican ever mock John Heinz’s inherited wealth, which is the same damn money that neither of them earned themselves? I don’t think so.

29

Publius 10.15.04 at 6:43 pm

I think Kerry’s answer was brilliant, and TOTALLY trumped Bush’s. Why? When asked about “strong women” Bush chose his wife. Kerry chose his *mother*.

I think Kerry sewed up the votes of MANY undecided women, right there, in one answer.

I might explain. When I was a young single asshole (as opposed to the old married asshole I am now), the focus of my life was gaming the “dating” system for my own hedonistic gain. I had several platonic female friends who were very sharp in gaming the system from the other side, to secure the “perfect” man. We respected each other and compared notes and I learned a lot.

One of the things I learned is that an important question savvy single women ask a prospective mate is: “How would you describe your relationship with your mother?” It’s a very important question and the answer supposedly reveals a lot about man’s attitude towards and respect for women, and his comfort with and ability to maintain loving, close, personal relationships. From what I’ve been told, a woman can quickly “out” a closeted misogynist, nebbishy mama’s boy, or various other afflictions, based on his level of comfort in answering this.

Just as Kerry aimed his Swift Boat directly into fire, he aimed his answer directly at the archetypal strong woman in his life, the woman that has the single greatest influence on any mammal’s life, the one who really defines for most men the ideal of what women are all about: his mom. He went above and beyond the call of duty. Award the man a Silver Star for that answer.

It’s even more ironic (and telling!), since Bush’s mom is most *definitely* a strong woman– well-known and admired by many– who had a huge influence on him and would have been an excellent political choice as an answer. She’s also the person in the family that he resembles most: her nasty and vindictive streak is legendary. Regardless of whether Bush chose not to answer “Barbara Peirce Bush” out of political cowardice, emotional cowardice, neglect, or stupidity, he *loses*.

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