Profiles: The Long War of John Kerry

Here is another beautiful piece of reporting done by The New Yorker. Now I wish there is something like this on John Edwards, to make us see the candidates more like human beings, with personal history, temperament, in addition to their political stands.

Profiles: The Long War of John Kerry, by Joe Klein, from The New Yorker, 2002.

It is rather long as all other profiles done by the New Yorker. But it is definitely a good read. Here are a few quote from the article:

… Gunn was the leader of the Coalition of Retired Military Veterans and had attacked Senator John McCain during the 2000 Republican Presidential primary in South Carolina. Kerry had written a letter protesting the charges that another veterans¡¯ group had made against McCain¡ªessentially, that McCain was ¡°anti-veteran¡±¡ªand he had got the other Vietnam combat veterans in the Senate to sign it. Now Jim Gunn said to him, ¡°I just want you to know, Senator, that you were right about McCain and I was wrong. Bush lied to my face, and I¡¯ll never support him again.¡± Gunn proceeded to file a bill of particulars against the President on veterans¡¯ issues. Then he sighed and said, ¡°I wish there was a machine that could really say when someone is telling the truth, but you sound sincere when you talk about our issues. I represent seventeen thousand vets in South Carolina¡ªI¡¯m like their union boss¡ªand if you run for President next time we¡¯re with you.¡±

There are detailed narratives regarding his service in Vietnam and how he got his silver star. It is not the normal heroic stories, more like “Apocalypse Now.” There are also interesting exerpt from the Class Oration he delievered at his graduation in Yale in 1966.

In one of our conversations, I asked Kerry how he became interested in politics. His interest was a result, he replied, of seeing the impact of the war in Europe as a child. ¡°My very first memory¡ªI was three years old¡ªis holding my mother¡¯s hand and she was crying, and I didn¡¯t know why, as we walked through the broken glass and rubble of her childhood house in France, which the Germans had used as a headquarters and then bombed and burned as they left. I remember a staircase going up into the sky, and I remember a chimney into the sky. Those were the two images¡ªthat was all that was left. I remember going to the beach at Normandy on a subsequent trip, in 1951, and seeing burned-out landing vehicles, and the bunkers, and playing in those bunkers. And then we lived in Berlin for a brief period of time, with the Communists right on the other side of the sector. The Cold War was very real to me, more so than for most people my age.¡±

The article also contains more detailing on his political lives in Washington, as well as his two marriages. I don’t know if he is a better candidate to defeat GWB than John Edwards, but he is definitely a rather unusal politician, and an very unique individual.