Kerry Takes One For the Team

You have to admire John Kerry’s team spirit in agreeing to impersonate Mitt Romney in debate prep sessions with the President. He will duly be subjected to mockery from all the late-night comics for his unique ability to play the role of a stiff, out-of-touch aristocratic Massachusetts pol.

Truth is, though, Kerry knows the ins-and-outs of policy exceptionally well; did a good job in the 2004 debates; is one of five living Democrats who ran against an incumbent president (the other four being 89-year-old George McGovern, 84-year-old Fritz Mondale, and the two winners, Carter and Clinton, who are presumably exempt from this kind of duty); and knows from painful experience an awful lot about the kind of Rovian tactics Romney is likely to deploy. All in all, the choice makes sense.

Presumably, Romney will choose Rob Portman as his sparring partner, since the Ohioan, reportedly a “method actor” when it comes to this rare craft, has been doing presidential debate prep since 1996, most recently standing in as Barack Obama for John McCain in 2008. If Portman turns out to be the GOP veep choice, it might seem a bit weird for the two members of the same ticket to square off, even in mock form. But without question, being a bit of a chameleon should make Portman a good personal fit for Mitt.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.