Wednesday, February 25, 2004

# Posted 3:30 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

BRIGHT COLLEGE YEARS: The Yale Daily News has published an op-ed that recounts how John Kerry was a very arrogant and unpopular young man during his time at Yale.

The author of the article is a member of the Yale Political Union's Liberal Party, of which Kerry was chair during his time as an undergraduate. As a former officer of the Liberal Party myself, I can vouch for the fact that no one there has any fond memories of Kerry.

But does Kerry's record of incompetence as an undergraduate really have anything to say about his ability to serve as chief executive of the United States of America? According to the op-ed's author,
Personally, I would not let Kerry circa 1966 run a public toilet, let alone a country. Hopefully, today's Kerry is a different man. Perhaps his service in Vietnam changed him for the better. Perhaps time has changed him. But maybe he has not changed. Recently Kerry mentioned that George Bush remains the same guy he was in college. If Bush didn't change, why would Kerry?

I certainly do not think a hard-drinking frat boy of the George Bush kind is any better prepared for the presidency. Still, Democrats ought to consider other options. Edwards anyone?
I think the real message here is that members of the YPU still take the institution way too seriously. While the author begins his article with a self-effacing admission that "The political union is by no means a 'cool' organization," he proceeds to judge the character of a veteran Senator according to his behavior as a 21-year old.

To be fair, my own criticism is an example of the pot calling the kettle black. I took the YPU way too seriously during my two semesters as an elected official. But one thing that has become very clear since then is how much almost everyone I knew in the YPU has grown and changed in the years since I first met them.

As a freshman first getting involved in the YPU, I remember how much I valued the sense of belonging and identity that came with membership in one of the parties. Sometimes, I did some pretty stupid things because I thought they would make other people in the YPU like me.

Now, it seems like John Kerry did plenty of dumb things as well, except without much of a payoff in terms of social acceptance. Personally, I chalk it up to him being an awkward kid like the rest of off, not some profound character flaw that will make him anything less of a President.
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