Philly Faux Pas


WaPo's Dana Millbank writes that Sen. John Kerry's approach to a Philly cheesesteak may be hindering his attempt to come off as a reg'lar guy. He apparently ordered one with (gasp!) Swiss cheese. Money quote:

Kerry spokesman Robert Gibbs insisted that the candidate was "not taking a dainty nibble" of the steak. "I suspect that Kerry was thinking about provolone cheese but became distracted by thinking of the more than 3 million jobs that have slipped through the holes of George W. Bush's economic plan."

NEXT: Who Wants To Be Governor of California?

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  1. Ray,

    Many Democrats come to the Reason site because we agree with a lot of what is said here. Similarly, we disagree with a lot that is said. The same is true of any Republican. So why didn’t you ask a broader question: Why does anyone come here? 🙂

  2. Ray: Why do republicans come to a place like reason? I know you think republicans are the true libertarians, just like others see the demos that way. Fact is, we are libertarians because neither of those parties really do much for liberty, unless it can win a vote or two.

  3. Well I’m at it, Ray, besides a Reaganesque tax cut (cut more, spend more, let the next prez sort it out), in what way have W and his boys done anything libertarian since taking power?

  4. God forbid someone ask for a sandwich differently than the “right” way. Only a commie ask for customizations in their …. wait a minute.

  5. x-

    It was meant to be mostly rhetorical. I like to hash things out with people with whom I have a semblance of agreement with i.e. individual freedoms, free markets et al.

    So many Democrats come here that I do wonder about the actual state of the LP. It has been speculated upon that many Lefties are so disenchanted with the Dems and their failed ideology that they are migrating to the LP ranks ala Hitchens and the like.

    Problem is of course is that old ideas die hard and thus the LP is a fragmented, ineffective party of disenchanted people with no real focus.

    What got me to start leaning away from the GOP initially was the writing of Hayek, Sowell, Friedman et al. But the closer I get to registered Libertarian folks, the farther away from free market individualism I find myself.

    Even the drug issue. I’m for legalization but not just so we can buy pot more easily. And without rehashing what is an aside to this post, let me just say the subject shouldn’t be our raison d’etre. Not if we, libertarians (upper case L and lower) are actually out to make a difference.

  6. Ray: While we are generalizing, I would say that democrats become libertarians because they are social liberals and start to see the futility in the economic engineering side of the democrat agenda. Republicans become libertarians because their economic conservatism (in the good sense) doesn’t really fit with all the social engineering right wingers like to do when they get into power. Neither the right nor the left has the answers but when they get into power, they BOTH manage to find ways to make government bigger, distort the market and interfere in private lives, thereby losing the support of the small minority of thinking members of each party. Enough generalizing, back to work.

  7. “I’m for legalization but not just so we can buy pot more easily.”

    Then by definition, you are not a libertarian.

  8. x-

    I like to use Jefferson and Adams as an example of what you were just saying.

    Neither one of their ideologies alone would have made America as strong as she is today. The confederate states envisioned by the Jeffersonians would not have been strong enough to survive the first 50 years and of course the Feds would have squashed real freedom.

    Reality sets in when you see the actions of even these two vaunted men, Adams had no compunction about using his authority as dictatorial as possible and of course it was Jeffeson who gave the Marine Corps that nifty little verse “to the shores of Tripoli.”

    “Tom, how about a decalaration of war? Tom? Tom?”

  9. JDM

    Then you do not know what it actually means to be a libertarian.

    It’s not so you can smoke pot, it’s so you and I both have the right to harm ourselves if we so please, whether your poison be Big Macs or pot.

    The problem with people in general is that they see everything in a snapshot and simply cannot grasp the larger, shall we say moving picture.

  10. “You will find no one else who has straddled both sides of the pro/anti Iraq liberation issue to the extent Kerry has. Kerry is all over the place.”

    My point exactly, and a counter-example to yours. Kerry “straddled” then, and the “straddles” now. Straddle, Straddle, straddle. If he had been a vigorous supporter of the war then, and turned around to vigorously denounce it now, then your characterization of him as twisting with the political winds would be right. But he took a nuanced position then, and continues to hold that nuanced position today.

    You seem to think that it’s bad for an office holder to have beliefs that need more than a bumper sticker to explain. I think it’s a good thing, and demonstrates an ability to think critically, while avoiding being sucked in to marching in lockstep with any of the mobs that periodically rampage through town.

  11. Gee, I figured the Dems came for my “Mother Jones style commentary”…

  12. Mr Sanchez: they come for the engaging debate on fundamental issues (such as this Philly Steak thread) they stay for you Mother Jones style commentary.

  13. Yes, painting all Democrats as rich Berkeley freaks is JDM’s job around here. Mine is reigning him in, and writing long screeds about urban design. Oh, and saying “libertoid.”

    If John Kerry was so concerned about jumping at the head of mobs, wouldn’t he have managed to get himself designated the Leader of the Something Movement by now? The only niche John Kerry has carved out for himself is as the go-to guy on military questions for Congressional Democrats who don’t understand the issues. Not much of a mob marching in that direction.

    Actually, that’s not true. John Kerry held the hearings that broke the Iran-Contra and BCCI scandals. Once again, I don’t recall there being huge mobs lining up before these scandals broke.

  14. “Yes, painting all Democrats as rich Berkeley freaks is JDM’s job around here. Mine is reigning him in”

    Really? I always thought your job was to vindicate me.

  15. joe,

    You have, and I don’t mean this in a derogatory fashion, a very narrow and unobjective view of Kerry.

    Your explanation of his varied stances, or one very wobbily stance, is the the very definition of a weather vane politician. Wetted finger in the wind and wandering aimlessly, quite possibly off the cliff if he thinks there are enough votes down there.

    Give me George W or give me Joe Lieberman, at least I know where they stand and can act accordingly.

  16. I don’t come here for Julian at all, he’s a marginalist who will always be on the dissenting side just for the sake of dissent. Sounds noble when you’re in college but as we get older, we see that it’s just silly and not very principled.

  17. Ray, you are the marginalist. You flirt with libertarianism but I’m not sure you’re ready to go all the way. Why don’t you just admit you are one of those repblicans who put on libertarian airs becasue you think it’s kind of sexy.

  18. Ray: You know where W stands? On what? Humble foreign policy? Nation building? Free trade? Vladimir Putin’s soulful eyes?

    You, Ray, know more about lacking objectivity than most people have forgotten.

  19. By Charles Murray’s partial definition (I often give that book away as a present – which explains my popularity.) I am a free market conservative who happens to agree with the legalization issue.

    And this is something I have discussed before, in depth. Voting GOP nationally but acting locally within the LP. I think this is the only, acting locally first that is, that we can actually field viable national candidates one day.

    But I have a problem with pie in the sky Lefties who have come over here because it is more cool to dissent here than with the old school Left. That old school is Clinton, Gore, Dean, Gephardt and just isn’t cool anymore. If the LP were to take power next year with most of the Lib platform in place, these types would simply migrate to the next fringe movement.

  20. x-

    Don’t start attacking people now. This was fairly civil until you ran out of substance.

    I never accused Lieberman or W of being anything but politicians. But as far as politicians go, I can predict both of these guys positions pretty accurately.

  21. Ray: How can you say you support free markets and yet support bush so unreservedly? He doesn’t believe in free markets. You are a doctrinaire republican, admitting it is the first step.

  22. Ray, you called joe unobjective and Julian a marginalist. I’m not attacking you, I’m trying to help you see the error of your ways.

  23. x-

    When did I say anything about Bush?

    And why are you always on the personal attack?

    Have you no substance?

    I am willing to vote the GOP nationally to make a difference as I still see voting for the blue freak on principle alone idiotic. Gore or Bush? Of course I’ll take Bush.

    This is where people go pie-in-the-sky. Until we (the libertarians) have a viable local presence, say at least 10 of 15 in the House one or two senators, there is no reasonable expectation of us making a national difference.

    You voted for Gore anyway, what are you talking about.

  24. He’s been my home state senator since I was 11 years old, Ray. I actually know more about him than what I’ve read in the horse-race national election coverage and partisan web sites.

    And the qualities that make him “stick his finger in the wind” are the same ones that will allow him to stand up to his party when it needs to be done (like Clinton on debt reduction and welfare reform), instead of bitter ending it on ideological crusades.

  25. Ray: “Give me George W or give me Joe Lieberman, at least I know where they stand and can act accordingly.”

  26. x-

    Read back over joe’s description of Kerry and try to fit that into something rational. It wasn’t anything personal and I prefaced my remarks accordingly. Let joe answer for himself, he’s done fine up until now.

    Julian is the prototypical dissenter. He’s a marginalist because he would be one of the one’s to bolt the LP movement if they ever came to power. Kind of like the guy whose favorite band sells their first million records, and so he can no longer, as a matter of principle, support the band.

    If you said anything of substance on your own part X, you wouldn’t have to go to bat for everyone else.

    This is why I so often accuse you of being someone’s alter-ego. Wanting to protect your usual moniker, you fire off a few puerile little posts to vent and then come back to reason as your usual, civle self under your normal ID.

  27. Ray: My voting record is not public knowledge, but let me assure you, I have never, ever voted for a Democrat. I may vote early and often, just not the way you assume. Never assume, Ray…

  28. joe,

    So you support him out of the reality of keeping, in your opinion, the right party in power?

    I can respect that I suppose. But it still only validates what I was saying about his Clinton-esque approach of staying in power.

    If you join a political party for certain reasons, where do you draw the line when your guy starts to sell the farm just to stay in power? If you voted for Clinton in 96, you didn’t do so thinking or hoping he would reform welfare. So where does that leave those voting their ideology when their man renigs?

  29. It hurts, Ray, it really does, to have my arguments ignored time and again. I guess you feel kind of frutrated when you have the inconsistency and irrationality of your republican tirades pointed out. So you accuse me of name-calling and fakery. That’s okay, I’m used to it. I know I’ve won another argument with Ray when he reverts to distraction, denial and obfuscation.
    Hmmmm. What is it you once said to me? Oh yeah… “have a coffee and relax.” I might suggest you burn one and mellow out, pal.

  30. My first post describing Kerry: “a non-ideologue who’s more into nuts and bolts than fist pumping and Big Ideas.” Kerry first came to prominance by resisting the Vietnam War. He then went to work putting criminals in jail in the DA’s office. Is that something an ideological anti-Vietnam War politician does?

    I’ve identified four separate examples of his “making the trains run on time” – two cases of covert criminal activity exposes, day-by-day slogging through criminal cases in a local DA’s office, and helping fellow lawmakers understand complicated technical and bureaucratic issues on related to a subject they don’t understand very well. Pleae feel free to cite some examples of Kerry’s Big Ideas and fist pumping.

  31. I support him because he is a person of extraordinary competance and intelligence, with a broad understanding of the issues that are most important at this time in history. As far as partisan politics are concerned, I will admit to a desire to vote for anyone who will fire John Ashcroft, Donald Rumsfeld, and Gail Norton, and not hire the likes of Antonin Scalia and Daniel Pipes.

    I do like Kerry’s ideology, especially his apparent commitment to small, finely tailored, workable solutions to problems, rather than an overarching belief that “X is the solution to all our problems.” How many justifications have been offered for Bush’s tax cuts? For the Iraq war?

  32. joe

    I never accused Kerry of fist pumping or whatever.

    My beef is that he’s wobbily. He votes for the Iraqi liberation to cover his 6 knowing full well that he’s going to be oppossed to it in the presidental race.

    That’s not balanced, that’s duplicitous.

    And you’re side remarks give away part of your basic ideology. I’ll save the economic argument for another day but Kerry has shown every inclination that he might just as well get into office and slash taxes to the bone if that’s where the votes were. How would this make you feel?

  33. joe,

    To backtrack a little back to our original point; we were talking about pols in general and their ideology.

    Isn’t it better to have a man that will stand by what they said yesterday than to knowingly say one thing and play the opposite part today?

    You mentioned Bush on taxes and Iraq. Leaving aside for a moment the underlying arguments on those subjects, I know exactly where Bush stands on both and can predict fairly well where he’ll be tomorrow. As can you.

    You can’t do this with Kerry.

  34. Ray: I know joe can take care of himself, but as usual you have ignored my question on this very topic, Bush’s wobbliness. When he said “no nation building” how did you know he meant, “no really, nation building!” When he said “humble foreign policy” how did you know he meant, “Our FP will be to humble anyone who disagrees with me.” ?? Come on Ray, why can’t you admit Bush is as much a pol as any democrat?

  35. Kerry did not vote “for the Iraqi liberation.” He voted to give the President the authority to use force, or not, at his discretion. There is nothing contradictory about doing so, and then criticising the use of that discretion. As he said at the recent labor forum, the credible thread of force was important to compell Saddam’s compliance. Once again, a subtle, nuanced position, focused on outcomes and the best way to achieve them at the lowest cost, without precluding other options at a later date.

    I realize you see subtlety and nuance as the same thing as refusing to take a position, but try not to distort what I’m about to say beyond recognition: Kerry has his ideological beliefs, and would not cut taxes to the bone, but he does not prioritize remaking the world according to his ideology. He prioritizes pragmatism, not ideological orthodoxy, and is therefore unlikely to overreach or to pander to a minority within his base at the expense of the overall good.

  36. “You mentioned Bush on taxes and Iraq. Leaving aside for a moment the underlying arguments on those subjects, I know exactly where Bush stands on both and can predict fairly well where he’ll be tomorrow. As can you.

    You can’t do this with Kerry.”

    I know that Kerry, unlike Bush, will go into each issue with an open mind, and base his decision on the actual facts of the case. He will not lean on the bureaucracy to tell him what he wants to hear (uranium, Al Qaeda ties in Iraq) and bury everything else (global warming data, the alleged higher success rate of faith-based programs). He will not make decisions based on a grand, ideological crusade (ie, Rummy’s memo from September 14, urging the administration to take advantage of the situation to wage the Iraq invasion they always wanted) and then claim he’s doing it as a solution to the flavor-of-the-month-problem (I’m cutting taxes because we have a huge surplus. No, I’m cutting taxes because we have a huge deficit, and need to spur growth).

    You can’t say that about Bush.

  37. Bush is solid on his views? Ray needs to see the Daily Show’s debate between Governor Bush and President Bush.

    They should win an Emmy for that piece.

  38. Now, the man on the stand he wants my vote,
    He’s runnin for office on the ballot note.
    He’s out there preachin in front of the steeple,
    Tellin me he loves all kinds a people.
    (He’s eatin bagels
    He’s eatin pizza
    He’s eatin chitlins
    He’s eatin bullshit!)

  39. Honestly, is that not the most ridiculous response? “Yeah, my guy couldn’t order a true cheesesteak because he couldn’t get national unemployment off the brain.” Idiots.

  40. Yes, idiots. As opposed to the DaVincis who raised the “issue” in the first place.

    Silly season has begun.

  41. Wonderful, in-depth reporting. Way to cover the candidates. This is the kind of information I want to focus on when learning about someone who wants to lead my country.

  42. Steve, the Gibbs comment is toungue in cheek! Even political hacks occasionally display a sense of humor.

  43. Don’t blame the reporting. Blame Kerry. It’s a tried-and-true political ritual for a candidate to travel to a city or region and indulge in some quaint local custom for the benefit of the cameras in hopes of generating a cute news story and endearing himself to the populace. If you’re going to go to a landmark Philadelphia restaurant and eat a cheesesteak in order to demonstrate your solidarity with working-class Philadelphians, you better know the right way to do it.

    He who lives by the photo op dies by the photo op.

  44. Save these guys’ handlers some trouble… Ok boys, repeat after me:

    “Gimme a steak, wiz wit”

    And they’ll yell at you if you order a drink at the first window.

    On a related note, can anyone tell me how to properly order a New Orleans po’boy? I’d hate to embarass myself like a candidate on my next trip.

  45. Anyone remember a very silly story about Bush the elder not knowing about bar code scanners?

    And the above poster has a point, Kerry asked for it, don’t go schmoozing where you don’t know your material.

  46. What the hell is “wiz wit?”

  47. I know Cheez Wiz is the cheesesteak gold standard and all, but Pat’s and Geno’s have Swiss (and the more commonly requested American and provolone) on hand because people do ask for them. The story’s doubtless meant to be a sprightly bit of campaign-trail color, but instead it reads like a pandering Murdoch tabloid piece.

    Whoa! Kerry’s an upper-class old-money Northeasterner! You don’t say! Just like all three generations of Bushes! And Howard Dean! Crazy! Except he wears custom-made dress shirts and gets expensive haircuts instead of slumming!

    I’m frankly nonplussed by the man’s politics, but the revelation-slash-attempted-smear that the rich-kid turnd Vietnam-combat-vet turned war-protestor turned legislator keeps his fingernails long in order to play classical guitar just makes him a more interesting to me. Call him vain, call him an accursed Democrat, but it’s hard to make the case that he’s one-dimensional.

  48. He’s one-dimensional. The dimension happens to be “how can I come off looking good.” He is famous for fence-straddling and testing the political winds. He is apparently entirely principle-free, as his non-position on the war demonstrates.

  49. Keith, get your po’boys dressed (lettuce, tomato, mayo).

  50. “He is famous for fence-straddling and testing the political winds. He is apparently entirely principle-free, as his non-position on the war demonstrates.”

    Right about now, a non-ideologue who’s more into nuts and bolts than fist pumping and Big Ideas sounds pretty good to me. Better than President “God Chose Me for His Plan” anyway.

  51. joe

    “a non-ideologue who’s more into nuts and bolts than fist pumping and Big Ideas sounds pretty good to me”

    And who in the world would that be? No one in politics that I’ve ever heard of.

  52. twistedmerkin:
    Awesome, thanks!

    cheez “wiz wit”h fried onions.

  53. Ray, I hope you are sitting down, because I agree with you. RC Dean could have been talking about any poltician republocrat or democan; joe was just dreaming out loud.

  54. More intrepid political coverage from the Washington Post. Bring back Ben Bradlee!

  55. I think it’s useful to think of politicians as being on continuum, with ideological warriors at one end and “make the trains run on time” at the other. And I think it’s safe to say that John Kerry and John Edwards are much less ideological than Bush, Lieberman, Sharpton, Gephardt, Moseley-Braun, Graham, Kucinich, or Dean.

    Obviously, there are caveats about everyone having an ideology, no political action being truly neutral, et al, but someone who comes in with a desire to remake the world a la Reagan, W, or FDR is different from a JFK, an Eisenhower, or a Clinton.

  56. joe,

    So, John Kerry, JFK and Clinton are/were not ideologues?

    Wow, that is a bizarre statement.

    The measure then for non-ideology is what? The willingness to change your stated points of view 180 degrees when the political winds move?

    Give me an ideologue, even somewhat like Dean, at least you know what they actually think regardless of whether or not I agree.

  57. Ray,

    Sorry you don’t agree, but Bill Clinton was the farthest thing from an ideologue. Whether one liked him or not or agreed with his policy prescriptions or not, certainly he was not an ideologue.

  58. So much for caveats.

    Find a 180 degree change Kerry has made for me, will you Ray? I don’t think you can.

    What you will find are areas in which he took a position that was more complicated and finely tuned than the True Believers on either side, and then adjusted it in the face of new information or developments. He’s never been the kind of guy who goes way out on limbs or pumps up the base, so there’s not a lot for him to turn 180 degrees away from.

    What’s good about that is he won’t lead us off a cliff. What’s bad is that he might not lead us much of anywhere. At this time in history, I’d prefer the latter. This is a time for cooler heads to prevail.

  59. joe,

    You will find no one else who has straddled both sides of the pro/anti Iraq liberation issue to the extent Kerry has. Kerry is all over the place. He twists in the wind almost daily depending on who he is in front of and what issue is in the public opinion poll cross-hairs.

    You’re right that Clinton wasn’t so much of an ideologue as he wrote the book on weather vane politics i.e. he has no compass, whatever stance he could take to stay in power is the position he would assume.

    You guys are starting to confuse the derogatory use of ‘ideologue’ and a politician standing for something besides reelection.

    The only Democrat that has shown himself to be worth his salt as a leader is Lieberman. I don’t agree with alot of ideology but at least he has, relative to his peers, stayed the course of his own beliefs.

    Why do Democrats come to a place like Reason anyway? Just curious.

  60. joe,

    “What you will find are areas in which he took a position that was more complicated and finely tuned than the True Believers on either side, and then adjusted it in the face of new information or developments.”

    Doesn’t that hurt? To twist and flail around like that?

  61. “dressed”= mayo, tomatoes, lettuces, AND PICKLES

  62. I can see your side too, Ray. Both political styles have their good and bad sides. But I think a President, as opposed to a legislator, is better off prioritizing consensus and pragmatism.

  63. EMAIL:
    DATE: 01/22/2004 02:15:09
    An ideal person is not a tool.

  64. EMAIL:
    DATE: 05/21/2004 02:42:20
    Only the hand that erases can write the true thing.

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