Monday, September 06, 2004

Did Kerry say this?: "Who among us does not love Nascar?" 

Sent to the New York Times’ Maureen Dowd, Gail Collins, and Daniel Okrent:

Subj: 'Who among us does not love Nascar?'
Date: 9/6/04; 12:30pm
To: liberties@nytimes.com, editorialboard@nytimes.com, public@nytimes.com
Dear Ms. Dowd, Ms. Collins, and Mr. Okrent,

As usual, I thoroughly enjoyed Frank Rich’s column ("How Kerry Became A Girlie-Man," September 5, 2004) in yesterday’s paper. Among Rich’s brilliant zingers was the line, "When the Democrat asks ‘Who among us does not love Nascar?’ and lets reporters follow him around on a ‘day off’ when his errands include buying a jock strap, he is asking to be ridiculed as an ‘International Man of Mystery.’"

The Nascar line is priceless, and intriguing, too.

My question to the Times is not whether the line is quintessentially Kerry (which it certainly seems to be), but whether Kerry ever actually said it.

I searched for the quote (and its possible permutations) on Lexis-Nexis and the web to try to find its first usage. For sure, it’s been picked up and parroted by commentators and columnists in newspapers across the country, but I found that the first use of the line comes from no transcript or datelined reporter’s filing. Rather, the first mention I found appeared here on the Times’ Op-Ed page.

Maureen Dowd (in "Pride and Prejudice," March 18, 2004) wrote, "Even when he puts on that barn jacket over his expensive suit to look less lockjaw -- and says things like, ‘Who among us doesn't like Nascar?’ -- he can come across like Mr. Collins, Elizabeth Bennet's pretentious cousin in ‘Pride and Prejudice.’"
On Nexis, there are no references to the quote before Ms. Dowd’s March 18 column.

It’s a great line, no doubt, but I’d like to respectfully ask Ms. Dowd if Kerry actually said it.

Did Ms. Dowd mean to say in her March 18 column that John Kerry merely "says things like" "Who among us doesn't like Nascar?" (but didn’t actually utter these particular words), or did she mean to say that he actually said it?

And if she meant to say that he actually said it, may I respectfully ask to know when and where he said it?

Now that the quote has wedged itself into the conventional wisdom as a piece of the historical record, and has been used again and again to flog Mr. Kerry for his supposed patrician aloofness (he’s "asking to be ridiculed" for saying such things, Mr. Rich reminds us), it would be useful to know whether or not it’s something the man ever said.

Thanks for your consideration and attention. I look forward to hearing back from you soon.

A devoted reader,

[Friend of AmCop]


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