September 04, 2004


Big-deal Vanity Fair guy James Wolcott once wrote some nice things about this site, so it pains me to report that his own site is a total washout. Here's Wolcott's post-speech hug analysis:

More fascinating repressed psychodrama it would be harder to imagine. The Bush twins came out and embraced their dad, but it was an affectionless embrace, like those brief pats the American girl gymnasts gave each other after one of them after a routine, and immediately broken. Was he upset with their ditzy embarrassing performance?--there was none of the warmth and giddiness one saw with the Kerry and Edwards clans. His hugs of his father and mother were equally perfunctory. Everyone looked ill at ease ...

Those non-tactile, brief-embracing Bush freaks! They need to show the love. Just like John and Teresa.

Posted by Tim Blair at September 4, 2004 07:16 PM

Didn't read much (wasn't that interesting) but, wow, this guy doesn't appear to like many people.
I guess if he wrote about Tim's site in a favorable way that's some miracle.

Of course, perhaps what I just read is not representative of how he views things. Perhaps he just chose to write about the people he doesn't like in such a way to make it only *appear* that he's a pompous a**. Maybe he's not. Perhaps he's a nice guy who writes like this for his blog to get attention.

From Life's Little Lessons (about Laura Bush):

"When I wrote about the Bush women in a recent Vanity Fair, I succumbed to the temptation of hoping/believing she wasn't a cold mackeral without a conscience like the rest of the extended clan. That she was different, better, a Douglas Sirk heroine trapped in a soft prison of convention. No, she's just another warden in a pantsuit. Set out to oppose Nancy Reagan on embryonic stem-cell research (pitting woman against woman is a classic Bushite ploy), her soft, sedative misrepresentations revealed her as just another saccharine phony. And her defense of the swift boat ads--disgusting."

I can just SEE the sneer on his face as he writes that!

He also has a piece that includes a reference to Clinton's health problems.

From Ailing Heart Upstages Codpiece President
(I'll assume he's just trying to be sarcastic and isn't really as pathetic as he sounds.):

"Unable to yield the spotlight, Clinton clutched his chest like Fred Sanford and called 911 in a desperate bid to deny Bush the "big mo" he was beginning to enjoy .."

From What Goes Unsaid:

"I watched parts of Bush's speech last night with the sound off, observing his body language, facial expressions, etc. Since the soundbites of the speech would be endlessly replayed and the verbiage in between is nothing but Hamburger Helper, I didn't feel I'd be missing much .."

I'm not a professional journalist or anything, but it strikes me as very odd that someone in this profession would tune into the RNC and watch Bush's acceptance speech with the SOUND OFF.

I know he wanted to observe body language. But, wouldn't it be valuable to see what the person was saying as well? Perhaps to put your observance of the body language together with what was being said?

Probably just me. I'm not the professional writer this guy is so what do I know?

The rest of this short piece is equally fascinating if you want to see great condescension at work. He even digs at Jim Lehrer.

He reminds me a bit of Stewie from 'Family Guy'.

About the Bush twins:

I wish people would cut these girls some slack. I've read the criticisms of their RNC appearances.

They are just kids out of college. Not that polished. Awkward. Won't be stand up comics. Anyone remember what they were like at that age?

Don't know about anyone else, but if these two had delivered their jokes like Seinfeld and had the polish of seasoned political pros. they would be abnormal. To me, they just seemed normal.

Posted by: Chris Josephson at September 4, 2004 at 11:06 PM

"...blogs are simply voluble ego trips, a cheap podium for bush-league blowhards..."

As if nothing relevant or insightful can be posted on a blog.

Posted by: zzx375 at September 4, 2004 at 11:38 PM

Wolcott wrote a most misogynist article about "Bush's Women" in Vanity Fair. He used all the stereotypes woman-hating men use about women: Condi's either frigid or a dyke, the twins are sluts, Barbara's a fishwife, Laura's a downtrodden mouse, etc. What a fucking clown Wolcott is. I'd challenge him to a duel, except he'd be too big a dickwad to accept.

Posted by: ushie at September 5, 2004 at 12:32 AM

(pitting woman against woman is a classic Bushite ploy)

As if these women couldn't possibly have opinions of their own.

Typical pissed-at-the-world lefty ranting, if you ask me.

Posted by: Rebecca at September 5, 2004 at 12:33 AM

Just read his article at (first link). It's not as sneering as the stuff he has on his blog. Some of the stuff in the article is funny. I didn't find anything I read on his blog very funny at all.

Since I'm not a regular reader of Vanity Fair and have never heard of him, can't say which is more representative of his writing style.

Posted by: Chris Josephson at September 5, 2004 at 01:14 AM

at least Bush didn't retroactively turn his daughters into bastards.

Posted by: johnpaul IV at September 5, 2004 at 01:54 AM

johnpaul IV: huh?

Posted by: Andrea Harris at September 5, 2004 at 01:59 AM

I believe johnpaul (the fourth, no less) is speaking of divorce, which would, in the eyes of the medieval church, deny the legitimacy of the children. Not sure whose divorce, but that seems to be the gist. And, jp, it only applies to Catholics. Not even all Catholics. Just the non-rebellious ones.

(p.s., I don't think jp is really being serious, unless of course, he is, in which case... silly twit).

Posted by: Rebecca at September 5, 2004 at 03:23 AM

I still wake up srceaming from seeing Al and Tipper Gore dry-humping after the 2000 Democratic convention. Yes, by all means, let's keep the red-hot on-stage lovin' to a minimum.

Posted by: Matt in Denver at September 5, 2004 at 04:16 AM

Kerry had his first marriage of 18 years (they separated at 12 years) annulled, as in it never existed according to the Church, even though he had two children by this first wife and she strenuously objected to the annulment. I think this is what jp is speaking to. The annulment after years of marriage which produced children supposedly NOT by immaculate conception is, well, sorta Kennedy-esque. As in Teddy and Joe.

Posted by: charlotte at September 5, 2004 at 04:45 AM

Charolette, that is plain sad for the first wife, and unsurprising froming from Kerry. It may be legal, but it still stinks.

Posted by: The Real JeffS at September 5, 2004 at 06:14 AM

john kerry sought the annulment after his former wife asked for more alimony. So he did it for purely petty punitive reasons. There was no justification for the annulment.

Definition: The invalidation of a marriage, as for nonconsummation, effected by means of a declaration stating that the marriage was never valid.

Posted by: zefal at September 5, 2004 at 06:15 AM

john kerry sought the annulment after his former wife asked for more alimony. So he did it for purely petty punitive reasons. There was no justification for the annulment.

Definition: The invalidation of a marriage, as for nonconsummation, effected by means of a declaration stating that the marriage was never valid.

Posted by: zefal at September 5, 2004 at 06:18 AM

I'm not Catholic, Rebecca, but I believe annulments hurt especially devout women who are divorced and then pronounced, in effect, never married by their ex-husbands and church. Joe Kennedy divorced Sheila Rauch K. after 12 years of marriage and two children. She was so outraged by his being granted an annulment over her objections that she wrote Shattered Faith, a book about how the practice of annulment is often corrupted to invalidate valid marriages and granted more easily to men of importance and means (donations to the Church help in obtaining annulments). Her biggest worry is for the children of annulments, because, officially, they are then de facto born of an unsanctified union. Ted Kennedy divorced his wife of 24 years, after having three children by her. He also sought and was granted an annulment against her wishes.

Kerry joked on an Imus radio broadcast in 1996 about his annulment: "Seventy-five percent of all the annulments in the world take place in the United States, and I guess the figure drops to 50 percent if you take out all Massachusetts' politicians," he said. Quip here

Anyway, when Wolcott writes of the love between the members of the Kerry "clan", he conveniently omits mention of the mother of his children who is not feeling at all loved and hugged by him. Divorce happens. But some Catholic women and their children don't get a choice over having their status as wife and children of a valid marriage nullified in the eyes of the Church. It's a tough issue.

Posted by: charlotte at September 5, 2004 at 07:18 AM

You don't get it.

A divorce is a sign of failed relationship.

John Kerry does not fail. Just ask him.

Hence the annulment. Relationship never happened, ergo no failure.

Posted by: richard mcenroe at September 5, 2004 at 10:03 AM

Your're right, Richard. My bad!

Posted by: charlotte at September 5, 2004 at 10:10 AM

John Kerry does not fail. Just ask him.

My marriage did not fail - that son of a bitch broke it up.

Posted by: Quentin George at September 5, 2004 at 10:14 AM

Annullment does NOT retroactively ``bastardize'' children. The term used for the marriage in question is that it was a ``putative'' marriage - that is, was believed at the time to be a valid, binding, good-faith marriage.

I have no idea whether Kerry's first marriage was genuinely flawed or (like Henry VIII and certain individuals surnamed Kennedy) he just wanted to get out of the marriage and keep his standing with the Church clear at the same time. Either way the children are legitimate.

Posted by: Annalucia at September 5, 2004 at 10:16 AM

So, is Kerry a putative papa?

My in-laws are Catholic and wince to this day whenever they hear of marriages with children getting annulled by the Church. The Protestant pagan in me tends to believe that annulment would be OK if both spouses agreed, but that it is too often (note: not always) used as a loophole for applicants to get divorced and remarried and keep receiving their Communion wafers, too.

The problem still remains for devout Catholic wives who are divorced in civil law and then, by ecclesiastical finding, have their marriages invalidated, as well.

Posted by: charlotte at September 5, 2004 at 11:36 AM

Charlotte, I sympathize for the devout. Please don't take my postings as a flippant dismissal of them. As I am not Catholic (but my husband is), and we were not married in the Universal Church, my children are, in the eyes of some of my devout in-laws (The Grandmother, now deceased, thank a merciful God), bastards.

However, to me, annulment and divorce are the same in the ancient Church's eyes as regards children (and recalcitrant wives). I remain hopeful that the Catholic Church of the 21st century will move into the 21st century and give up some of its Italo-Medieval European-inspired interpretations.

If you'd like to discuss it more, please email me, so the men can get back to discussing the journo-wars. Men are welcome too.

Posted by: Rebecca at September 5, 2004 at 12:09 PM

Coming from a humorless leftist like Wolcott, "acerbic and hilarious" is a huge compliment.

Posted by: Sean at September 5, 2004 at 02:18 PM

Just to add something on the annulment issue - there are more grounds for annulment than simply nonconsummation (hence it is possible for a marriage to be invalid even if it has children, who are NOT however bastardized). A couple of the other grounds, if I remember correctly, are misrepresentation (you claimed to be something/someone you are not), coercion (obvious), and lack of intention to fulfill the marriage properly; that is, if you *went into* a marriage determined to, say, refuse to have children (Catholic no-no - it's OK if you turn out to be sterile and can't, but active prevention is not supposed to happen) or else determined not to be faithful. A marriage wherein the husband went into it with a longstanding secret mistress on the side, and no intention of giving her up, would be invalid since he was making his vows with no intention of keeping them.

Just my layperson's understanding, so feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. I will point out that very few grounds for annulment are especially flattering to the party who provides them, so if Kennedy and Kerry really feel like outing themselves in such a way, it doesn't reflect very creditably on them in any case.

Posted by: Sonetka at September 6, 2004 at 08:09 AM


I think you can add mental illness to that list, too. A person who was or becomes mentally ill cannot be held responsible to uphold the vows that are freely and without mental reservation taken.

As a Catholic, I've always viewed these politicians' annulments as Clintonesque evasions. Kerry, Kennedy, et al, paid the Church handsomely in order to remarry in the Church. Divorced Catholics cannot remarry and stay in the Church.

The Boston Archdiocese which granted these annulments is one of the most corrupt in America. Just look at the paedophile priest scandals there and how they were dealt with.

Posted by: JDB at September 7, 2004 at 03:57 AM