Metropolitian Washington DC is the LAST place to go to find enthusiasm for Kerry (OK maybe we’ll probably find less enthusiasm for Kerry at a country club in Mississippi, but you get my drift). I’ve lived in the Baltimore and/or DC region my whole life and when it comes to DC Metro area and politics there are 4 things to keep in mind:
1. This town is socially liberal and likes to talk a LOT about social/cultural issues. Kerry is pretty liberal on social issues yes, but issues like abortion, gay rights, affirmative action, and blue lattes vs. red state NASCAR’s just aren’t issues that close to Kerry’s heart.
2. When it comes to foreign policy- a lot of folks around here can be safely put in one of two categories:
b.) Deaniac anti-war table pounder who want to relive the anti-war movement of the 1960s in all it’s anger, cyncism, and it’s hard hat vs. college educated snobs battles-regardless of whether or not that person was even alive in the 1960s! It’s amazing how many previously down-to earth conservatives around here believed the Swfities hook, line, and sinker. And if that ain’t strange enough I’ve heard liberals voice skepticism of Kerry-because he served in Vietnam! Some of these folks constantly calling for “radical change” and “destruction” of “old politics” sound eerilly like Newt Gingrich in the 1980s, with a 1960s “New Left” tilt. Needless to say, Kerry (thankfully) falls into none of these categories.
3. Many people here will love those who talk the economic progressive talk, but HATE those who walk the economic progressive walk.
For many of the upscale social liberals around here-who are erroneously considered by many to “run” the Democratic Party- 1996 was the ultimate case of your unltimate fantasy becoming reality. A debate between balancing the budget and cutting taxes for the rich suits DC pundits’ just fine thank you very much. Endless harping about “family values”-but never mentioning how this country could better value families-is to upscale Northern Virginians and Bethesda-Chevy Chase folks what a room full of Eva Longoria’s is to a sex addict.
Needless to say Al Gore’s “people vs. the powerful” message didn’t go over well in this hyper-educated, wealthy, over-technologied, “new economy” place. Neither did Gore’s distancing of himself from Clinton go over well in a place where few people seemed willing to acknowledge Clinton did anything wrong (they were to caught up in what a “political genius” Clinton was-especially the Dick Morris/Hillary inspired “triangulation”). Knowing that Gore’s economic views didn’t go over well here, you can imagine what response Kerry’s economic views got. Of course, there were also the economic liberals who were angry that Kerry dared to talk about foreign policy-“he should’ve hammered on the economy and never touched terrorism” they cry.
Mostly though this town is happy to talk about racial divisions, but not class divisions. I could go into detail about what some folks around here say about teachers unions but I would have to quote Dick Cheney (i.e. as in what he told Pat Leahy on the Senate floor). How’s that for inside the Beltway baseball?
4. This town actually takes the likes of Joe Klein, Chris Matthews, and Charles Krauthammer seriously. Nuf said.
Furthermore, the degree to which people making in excess of $150,000 consider themselves “average middle class” is just astounding. Sure the cost of living is really high here , but if 200 grand dropped in my lap tomorrow, I’d be a happy guy (financially speaking anyway).
One other thing: Los Angeles and San Francisco might technically have more traffic congestion, but if you want to go to a place to find people who have a master’s degree but absolutely no conception at all of how to drive a stinkin’ car without endangering the lives of those around them you’ve come to the right place. No not all of the people in the DC metro area are like those described above. But there are enough people like this that could drive a down to earth person nuts.
So why don’t these people like John Kerry? Given Kerry’s history, personality, economic and political views, all I can say is to ask that question is to answer it.