WASHINGTON -- James Taranto, The Wall Street Journal's resident anthropologist, put it perfectly when he described Sen. Jean-Francois Kerry as "a comic perpetual motion machine." And as such, the junior senator from Massachusetts provides an invaluable service to us. He provokes us to laugh about wholesome excess -- not the ribald mishaps of a Sen. Larry Craig or, if your memory is well-tuned, of Rep. Barney Frank. The Hon. Kerry -- with his ponderous gravitas, his implausible presumptions to achievements in the arts, in athletics and, who knows, perhaps in ballet -- is the reductio ad absurdum of the modern American politician's colossal claims to greatness in all the departments of human endeavor.
Sen. Kerry is a confirmed C student -- confirmed so by inquiring journalists after he tried to present himself as summa cum laude in comparison with his Republican opponent in 2004, President George W. Bush. President Bush never has claimed to be anything but a C student; though, as it turns out, his Yale grade-point average was slightly better than that of his fellow Yalie Jean-Francois. We know this because The Boston Globe eventually laid hands on Kerry's Yale transcript. Kerry had refused to release the transcript for years. Nonetheless he boasted of his intellect and complexity. Similarly, he boasted of his war record after exaggerating it and claiming to have witnessed American atrocities. It is this shamelessness combined with his obvious mediocrity that gets him into the hilarious fixes that have distinguished his career.
Just a few weeks ago, Kerry blundered into buffoonery once again. Impatient with unsubstantiated claims that the 2004 Swift boat advertisements lied about Kerry's hoked-up military record, Boone Pickens, one of the funders of those ads, publicly challenged the critics to demonstrate the ads' inaccuracies. He promised to provide $1 million to anyone who succeeded. Astonishingly, Kerry took the bait. With the consummate presumption that makes him the "comic perpetual motion machine" that he is, Kerry wrote Pickens: "While I am prepared to show they (the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, often his fellow officers) lied on allegation after allegation, you have generously offered to pay one million dollars for just one thing that can be proven false, I am prepared to prove the lie beyond any reasonable doubt." That said -- and only that said -- Kerry asked for his cool million.