On Sunday I mentioned that John Kerry had given other Democrats a lesson in how to stand up against the Republicans' insistence on bonus tax cuts for people in the top 2 percent of the income distribution. For another Democrat who figured out how to make the case, see this earlier item, about White House economist Austin Goolsbee, with his visual-mnemonic device. (That's a static screen shot; playable video of Goolsbee is here.)
Now it appears that Kerry's (and Goolsbee's) eloquent hardline was for naught. I can't pretend to assess fully the impending deal on tax cuts at the moment. But here are several reader messages about the general question of framing the discussion.
First, from a reader who thought I was putting Kerry down when I said that the effective presentation had come from "John Kerry, no less." I'm not sure what I meant by that, but here's the reader's point:
>>Kerry's reputation as an uninspiring speaker is undeserved. From the time he first gained national prominence, I have been enormously impressed by his ability to frame issues and forcefully advocate sensible liberal positions (not an oxymoron!). He's also an entertaining speaker with a wry sense of humor. Even his famous remark about voting for the $87 billion before he voted against it, which probably cost him the presidency, represented only 5 seconds of a 2-minute remark that actually made an excellent point when played in full.
That said, I too am guilty of piling on, at least indirectly: whenever I am trying to explain to someone why I can't stand Joe Buck and Tim McCarver, I say that their pompous style reminds me of what a broadcast would be like if John Kerry were calling play-by-play. But of course I'm only talking about the caricature, not the real John Kerry. <<
For the record, I have written at length about Kerry's rhetorical skills, in this 2004 cover story. After the jump, two other suggestions about how the Democrats could/should have framed the discussion. I guess worth reading as prep notes for 2012.