Sobran's -- The Real News of the Month

 The Dying Mother Card 

October 14, 2004 
I mean, like, seriously weird, dude.

Read Joe's columns the day he writes them.After managing to appear a more or less human being throughout three 90-minute debates, John Kerry played the dying mother card.

Asked to name “the most important thing” he’d learned from the “strong women” in his life, he didn’t mention the one he’s married to. Instead, he spoke of visiting his mother in the hospital “a couple years ago.” He told her he was thinking of running for president. Then came the most important thing he’d learned, mind you, from any of the strong women in his life:

“And she looked at me from her hospital bed and she just looked at me and said: ‘Remember: integrity, integrity, integrity.’ Those are the three words that she left me with.” I count four, but let that pass.

There are several things wrong with this story, the first being that it’s stunningly goofy. No dying mother ever spoke to her son like that; no, not even in Massachusetts. Presumably she would take for granted that by his middle fifties it was unnecessary, or far too late, to teach him about integrity. After all, as he reminded us yet again, he was an altar boy.

A harmless fib, to be sure, compared with President Bush’s whoppers. But it showed Kerry’s stupefying eccentricity. Even if this preposterous story were true, could he expect anyone to believe it? Why on earth would he tell it? To tell us he realized the importance of integrity only a couple of years ago?

I wept till my sides hurt. It brought back memories of other false memories, such as Al Gore’s rollicking reminiscence of his dying sister. These Democrats can’t go for your tear ducts without insulting your brain and tickling your ribs at the same time. One also recalls Amy Carter’s wisdom on nuclear proliferation, and Bill Clinton’s early struggle for racial justice as a nine-year-old in Arkansas.

[Breaker quote: 
Kerry's silly story]Come to think of it, the most mystifying dereliction of Clinton’s presidency was his failure to come up with a good yarn about his mother’s passing. But even the greatest artists don’t always rise to the occasion: a contemporary chided Shakespeare in print for not producing a suitable tribute when Queen Elizabeth I died in 1603.

Like his running mate, Kerry did manage to bring a certain relative of the vice president into the debate. Very sympathetically, of course. These guys perfume their spitballs. “I believe we’re all God’s children,” Kerry said in essence, “and that very much includes Vice President Cheney’s lesbian daughter.” Bush, for his part, made no allusion to the first Mrs. Kerry; but Kerry himself came perilously close to doing so when he made a weak joke about having “married up,” unintentionally reminding us that he is now united in wedlock with his second heiress.

Kerry mentioned God a lot in the final debate, quoting Scripture and showing respect. A great deal of respect. Asked about some Catholic bishops’ declaration that voting for pro-abortion candidates is sinful, Kerry said, “I respect their views. I completely respect their views. I am a Catholic. And I grew up learning how to respect their views.” Replying to Bush’s remarks on his own faith, Kerry said, “I respect everything that the president has said and certainly respect his faith.” As for homosexuals’ feeling that God made them what they are, “I think we have to respect that.” Rodney Dangerfield should have met this man.

Let’s be honest. Like auto races, presidential debates are dramatic because they’re dangerous. One bad moment can kill a candidate. We rarely remember the details; what we do remember are the gaffes, putdowns, stumbles, pained silences, and unintended self-revelations; and, beyond these, general impressions. Forensic skill matters less for imparting truth than for avoiding disaster.

It was Bush who came closest to disaster, in the first debate, but there was no single fatal moment. He held his own in the other two battles, though I thought the smooth-talking Kerry slightly outperformed him most of the time.

Still, it was Kerry who had the two worst moments: first when he dodged a question about abortion, showing he didn’t even grasp the basic Catholic distinction between reason and revelation; and again when he invented what he thought was an edifying story about his dying mother’s counsel.

Some altar boy.

Joseph Sobran

Copyright © 2004 by the Griffin Internet Syndicate,
a division of Griffin Communications
This column may not be reprinted in print or
Internet publications without express permission
of Griffin Internet Syndicate

small Griffin logo
Send this article to a friend.

Recipient’s e-mail address:
(You may have multiple e-mail addresses; separate them by spaces.)

Your e-mail address:

Enter a subject for your e-mail:

Mailarticle © 2001 by Gavin Spomer
Archive Table of Contents

Current Column

Return to the SOBRANS home page.

FGF E-Package columns by Joe Sobran, Sam Francis, Paul Gottfried, and others are available in a special e-mail subscription provided by the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation. Click here for more information.

Search This Site

Search the Web     Search SOBRANS

What’s New?

Articles and Columns by Joe Sobran
 FGF E-Package “Reactionary Utopian” Columns 
  Wanderer column (“Washington Watch”) 
 Essays and Articles | Biography of Joe Sobran | Sobran’s Cynosure 
 The Shakespeare Library | The Hive
 WebLinks | Books by Joe 
 Subscribe to Joe Sobran’s Columns 

Other FGF E-Package Columns and Articles
 Sam Francis Classics | Paul Gottfried, “The Ornery Observer” 
 Mark Wegierski, “View from the North” 
 Chilton Williamson Jr., “At a Distance” 
 Kevin Lamb, “Lamb amongst Wolves” 
 Subscribe to the FGF E-Package 

Products and Gift Ideas
Back to the home page 


SOBRANS and Joe Sobran’s columns are available by subscription. Details are available on-line; or call 800-513-5053; or write Fran Griffin.

Reprinted with permission
This page is copyright © 2004 by The Vere Company
and may not be reprinted in print or
Internet publications without express permission
of The Vere Company.