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April 24, 2004

Words Passed Through History

Lane Core has been keeping an eye on politics, generally, and John Kerry specifically. For posterity's sake, he's ensured that Kerry's 1971 Vietnam testimony is available as a clean and readable PDF. (Note: that link goes to an html page.)

I'm starting to wonder how the Internet is affecting the behavior of future John Kerrys. Statements can no longer be made with the understanding that they'll disappear into niches of the country, requiring effort to find them. Demand for content can just about disappear for 30 years, but interested parties will still be able to access it as if it had been posted the week before.

Posted by Justin Katz at April 24, 2004 7:29 PM

And with the modern prevalence of camcorders and even cell phone cameras, how will the future George Bush's fare? From what I understand, the video recording of drunken parties and orgies by some has become quite a hobby. Will future candidates who have since repented for wild behavior nevetheless shy from office for fear of what videos will be circulated on the internet?

Posted by: Joel Thomas at April 26, 2004 3:42 AM

Thanks for the notice.

Posted by: ELC at April 26, 2004 9:25 AM


That's certainly an interesting and related question. Who knows but that it'll force those who harbor political ambitions despite earlier indiscretions to be more forthright. I forget where I saw it, but not long ago, I read a column suggesting that his repentance and return to faith has been a significant component of Bush's persona, meaning that dirt from his youth won't harm him as much.

But the trend that you suggest would apply to such a great number of the people who run for public office that the two outcomes that I can foresee, both with benefits and drawbacks, are that the public will become more understanding of the human capacity to change or that the way will open for people not from the wild elite to take office.

Posted by: Justin Katz at April 26, 2004 10:32 AM

I think there are two points here: one is that the Internet represents a huge but quirky memory. Media people have had this since the 70's with Lexis/Nexis.

The more interesting point is that when it comes to ones youthful indiscretions, honesty is the best policy. If Kerry had been truthful about his SUV's and his throwing medals, etc. a little honesty would have defused a damaging situation.

The media used to admire Clinton's skill in lying. Kerry is not going to get that break.

Posted by: Patrick Sweeney at April 26, 2004 3:21 PM

"The media used to admire Clinton's skill in lying. Kerry is not going to get that break." Bingo!

Posted by: ELC at April 26, 2004 9:33 PM