The derision that has greeted the release of John Kerry's Yale undergraduate grades has less to do with the marks themselves than with the perceived hypocrisy of the Massachusetts senator in the matter of "intelligence."
Americans are a forgiving lot.
Do you mangle your syntax? That's okay.
Were you once a drug or alcohol-abuser? We can forgive you.
Did you leave your wife for no good reason? Those things happen.
The trick to getting American forbearance and forgiveness is to honestly admit, "I'm a human being and I've made mistakes. I'm not the most brilliant person in the world. But I do my best day-in and day-out and I hope that I learn from my errors. Since I'm not running for pope, I don't have to be perfect and I don't think the American people expect that of me. Next question?"
In other words, those who stake out superiority--be it mental, moral, or otherwise--are setting themselves up for big problems once some chink in their supposedly perfect armor is found. Pols who are thought to be trying to delude us about their characters and abilities pay a higher price with the public than those who openly proclaim their humanity.
If you're a seriated adulterer, bedding down one lover after another, don't yammer about how devoted you are to your spouse.
If you beat your kids, don't talk about family values.
Hypocrisy is what a lot of people have detected in John Kerry's brighter-than-thou attitude toward President Bush. Turns out that as an undergraduate at the same institution, Yale, the two men had very similar grades: Undistinguished
Apart from Kerry campaign derision of Bush's brain power and Mr. Kerry's previous reticence to release his records to the public, this would be a so-what story. He made it a bigger deal than it needed to be.