THE PROBLEM WITH KERRY….I think Matt Yglesias has the right take on John Kerry. Or, more accurately, I guess I should say that Matt’s take is the same as mine.

(But wouldn’t it be nice if the second always implied the first?)

I hate to say this about Kerry, since he’s obviously a good guy and a good Democrat and does more for liberal causes in a day than I have in my life, but still. He just seems too calculated. I don’t know for sure if he really is more calculated than other politicians, but he seems that way and that’s a death sentence.

All the recent Kerry musing in the blogosphere has been prompted by Eric Alterman’s Friday column, written after a long chat with Kerry in Al Franken’s living room. After hearing Kerry’s explanation for his war vote, Alterman says, “It worked for me. But of course, I?ve now spent four hours with the guy and liked him to begin with.”

But the problem is that if you spend a bunch of one-on-one time with practically any presidential candidate you’re likely to come away impressed. Hell, if I spent a few hours with George Bush I’d probably come away liking the guy no matter how much I swore beforhand that I wouldn’t. You just don’t get to that level in politics without at least some level of personal charisma.

But Kerry can’t spend four hours with every voter in America, and the ones who only see snippets of him on TV don’t seem to warm to him. It’s unfair, and perhaps it speaks poorly of our political priorities, but there you have it. The next president of the United States just isn’t going to be John Kerry.

UPDATE: By the way, here’s another Kerry quote from Alterman’s column: “He said he felt betrayed by George Bush, whom he had believed, had not yet made up his mind to go to war when the vote was taken.”

As someone who put some level of trust in George Bush’s postwar plans, only to change my mind a few months later, I guess I hardly have any standing to complain about this. But I will anyway: what was Kerry smoking? Did he really believe that Bush wasn’t serious about ousting Saddam Hussein from the very start? I never doubted that for a second, and I frankly have a hard time believing that Kerry ever doubted it either. But if he did, it shows a disturbing lack of personal insight in someone who should have known better.