by Keith Olbermann


November 19, 2004

There has been a John Kerry sighting.

"Regardless of the outcome of this election, once all the votes are counted -- and they will be counted -- we will continue to challenge this administration," the 2004 Democratic candidate said in a prepared statement released today. "I will fight for a national standard for federal elections that has both transparency and accountability in our voting system. It is unacceptable in the United States that people still don¹t have full confidence in the integrity of the voting process."

Since his concession, Kerry¹s silence on the questions of voting irregularities in Florida, Ohio, and elsewhere, has perplexed those pursuing those questions, helped render largely passive the media who should¹ve been doing so, and provided virtual proof to others that there weren¹t any questions at all. His supporters have been mystified at news this week that millions of dollars from his war chest went unspent. His lawyers have been characterized as flying below the radar as the Libertarian and Green Parties have pushed their recount in Ohio.

He has seemed to his supporters and many neutrals, in short, as being AWOL.

The statement doesn¹t exactly dispel that aroma. It came by way of an e-mail to supporters -- but not to the media -- and a video
http://www.johnkerry.com/petition/everychild.php on his otherwise update-free campaign website http://www.johnkerry.com/, which maintains the frozen-in-time November 2 front page that makes it look like the political equivalent of Miss Haversham¹s cobweb-strewn house in Dicken's "Great Expectations."

The primary topic of the mass e-mail isn't even this election or future ones. It¹s about a petition drive for universal child health care legislation Kerry intends to introduce on the first day of the new Congress. Whether the voting stuff was added as a sop to supporters loudly wondering where he -- and the unspent $15,000,000 -- has been, is conjecture.

But the video is just plain weird. The phrasing of the start of the relevant passage -- "Regardless of the outcome of this election" -- is open to the same kind of parsing and confusion usually reserved for the latest release from Osama Bin Laden. Those seven words are extra-temporal; they are tense-free. In them he could be describing an election long-since decided, or one whose outcome is still in doubt.

And the timing and delivery of the message are equally confusing. No notification to the media? When much of the mechanism of political coverage is kick-started by statements like this one? And its issuance on a Friday afternoon -- the moment of minimum news attention so famously titled "Take Out The Trash Day" on the NBC series "The West Wing"? -- is perplexing, if not suspicious.

It has the vague feel of deliberate ambiguity, as if Kerry is saying to those who are plagued by doubts about the vote just seventeen days ago, that he agrees with them, but they shouldn't tell anybody. It's exactly what these confusing times do not need: more confusion.

Thoughts? E-mail KOlbermann@MSNBC.com

Informant: NHNE


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November 2004

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