Saturday, October 02, 2004

Made Up

Wow. Bob Somerby managed to get to the bottom of the Dowd's quoting of Kerry saying "Who among us doesn't love Nascar?" which he never said.

Start here with this post for a background.

So, here's the timeline. At a campaign rally on February 17, Kerry says:

There isn't one of us here who doesn't like NASCAR and who isn't a fan...

Dowd reported in her March 18 column:

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 Collins, Elizabeth Bennet's pretentious cousin in "Pride and Prejudice."

Of course, she didn't hear the quote. So, where did she get it from? Apparently New York Times journalist Sheryl Gay Stolberg who was at the rally.

The quote was subsequently used in Boston Globe article on March 20, sourced to Dowd, dissecting the speech patterns of the candidates.

It was then used in a March 23 column in the New York Daily News by Denis Hamill, who wrote:

If you're a John Kerry fan you must have cringed recently when he chased the blue-collar male vote by saying, "Who among us doesn't like NASCAR?"

It showed up in a July 7, 2004 Newsday column by Joseph Dolan:

"Who among us doesn't like NASCAR?" he supposedly said when confronted with George W. Bush's gaudy performance before the beer-bellied dads of Dixie at the Daytona 500 a few months ago.

It showed up in a July 25, 2004 NYT article by John Tierney(quiz format):

5. When journalists do impressions of John Kerry, their favorite words to quote are:

a) I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.

b) I have three words for this president that I know he understands: Bring it on!

c) Folks, I say to you

d) I learned my first cuss words sitting on a tractor.

e) Who among us doesn't like Nascar?

(the "correct" answer being e)

It showed up again in another New York Times report by Sheryl Gay Stolberg and John Tierney on July 30, 2004:

To anyone who has listened to Mr. Kerry extemporize at length -- who among us can forget his ''Who among us doesn't like Nascar?

It showed up again in an August 22 NYT article by Timothy Egan:

Still, some red-state Democrats wince when they see Mr. Kerry stiltedly asking, ''Who among us does not love Nascar?'' and connecting to the great outdoors by windsurfing.

One wonders how they wince if they haven't actually seen it.

It showed up again in a September 5 column by Frank Rich:

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.'

It is likely, though not necessarily, the inspiration for the jokey September 5 NYT article by Kate Zernike, which was headlined "Who Among Us Does Not Love Windsurfing?":

The stereotypes of the sport are unfair -- there are lots of plumbers and construction workers windsurfing off Cape Cod and in the lakes of Iowa. (Better put: Who among us doesn't like windsurfing?)

Again in the September 18 Toronto Star in a Tim Harper article:

Kerry was never going to win this vote, but tossed it away with his strong push to extend the assault weapons ban this week and his rather patrician nod to the track when he said, "Who among us doesn't love NASCAR?"

And, it shows up most recently in a September 26 Hartford Courant piece by Aaron Zelinsky:

Kerry-Don't 1. Don't speak in elegant sentences. Kerry needs to create good sound-bites. He also needs to connect with rank-and-file Americans. This means saying fewer things like "Who among us does not love NASCAR?" and more things like "America can do better." He ditched the Brahmin lilt a while back; now he just needs to make sure he doesn't speak in sentences that involve semicolons (like this sentence).

When I first heard of the dubious sourcing of this quote, after I bit of research I concluded pretty quickly that the quote was bogus - not because I couldn't imagine Kerry saying it, but because I knew that if he *had* said it, then it would have run on the cable nets and the late night talk shows over and over and over and over. Instead, it seems to have been a little anecdote people passed around and around. But, then Bovino claimed to have verfied it with the journalist, who now admits that maybe she misheard, and so I had to admit that I must have been wrong. Silly me.