If Kerry goes down in the fall, trace the blame to . . . Butchy Cataldo.
Kerry's critics point to his shifting stands on NAFTA, the war in Iraq, the No Child Left Behind Act and the Patriot Act. Kerry detractors expect the public to catch on when Kerry -- a fiscal liberal -- attacks Bush for "fiscal irresponsibility."
But, actually Kerry has a deeper problem -- his lack of likability and the Butchy Cataldo Factor.
Well, Sen. Kerry doesn't know, either. Precisely the problem, according to a window-to-the-soul story in the New Republic.
The people who know Kerry best consider Kerry aloof, imperious and condescending. Even worse, Kerry can't seem to retain their names. At a 1996 Massachusetts political affair, a Democratic Massachusetts State legislator said to his friends, "Watch this."
He walked up to Kerry and said, "Hi, Senator -- Representative Butchy Cataldo." At this, Kerry smiled, slapped his back and exclaimed, "Butchy, so good to see you again!" One problem -- the guy, the state rep -- was not Butchy Cataldo. In fact, Butchy Cataldo ran and lost to this Kerry-greeting legislator whose name is Bill Reinstein, a man bearing no resemblance to the tall, dark-haired Cataldo.
Call this a likability gap -- a problem for Kerry.
Presidential candidate George W. Bush, in 2000, unaware of an open mike looming nearby, whispered to his running mate, Dick Cheney, and said, "There's Adam Clymer, a major league a--hole from the New York Times." Liberal columnist Maureen Dowd took Bush to task for his profanity, reminding Bush that he now, in fact, plays in the "major leagues." But Sen. Kerry, in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine -- not during a perceived, private, off-the-record conversation -- said that he voted for the Iraq war resolution without realizing that Bush would "'F' it up." Only Sen. Kerry didn't really say, "F." Major leagues, Senator.
At a campaign stop in Chicago before an AFL-CIO leadership group, a supporter urged Kerry to fight hard. Kerry, unaware that his microphone could pick up his conversation, said this about the Bush administration: "We're going to keep pounding. These guys are the most crooked, you know, lying group I've ever seen. It's scary." The Kerry campaign insisted that the senator referred only to his "Republican critics," not the Bush administration or the president himself. (Believe that one when Osama bin Laden converts to Judaism.) Republicans equal: crooks-liars-warmongers-environmental-rapists and protectors-of-friends-in-high-places.