Thomas Oliphant

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The Kerry I Know

The first two times I dealt with John Kerry, when he had his initial brush with notoriety many years ago, I didn't know what to make of him. It was actually a little later, after he had screwed up and taken one on the jaw, that I became intrigued by him. He lost his first political fight, and deserved to; but instead of slinking off to a privileged corner of his world, he decided on a slow climb up the public-service ladder. Not for the last time, his grit surprised me. Now, on the threshold of his more than decent shot at the presidency, something un-chic has occurred to me: Odds are that he could be a successful, even excellent, president. No hero worship here. Knowing somebody is supposed to mean knowing him as a human being, zits and all. Part of my confidence involves the meeting of a particular kind of public figure and his times; part of it is this inner drive of his that survived the bright flash of sudden fame that burns out just as quickly and accepted the non-flashy way up...