Political endorsements, like nostalgia, just aren’t what they used to be.
A lot of good Al Gore’s endorsement did Howard Dean, for instance, or the endorsement of the major labor unions did Rep. Dick Gephardt in Iowa. Neither show of support could prevent these candidates from plummeting politically. Arguably, they might even have pushed them over the edge.
But one recent endorsement we think deserves more attention is that of Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry by North Korea’s Kim Jong-il. It’s not that one of the world’s last Stalinists called a press conference and made an announcement. But the dictator’s preference for Kerry over President Bush is evident, according to a report in The Financial Times, by the fawning treatment Kerry is getting on North Korea’s state-run media.
While the North Korean media relentlessly excoriates Bush, it plays up polls showing Kerry could defeat the president, spotlights Kerry’s claims that Bush deceived the world on Iraqi weapons programs, broadcasts Kerry speeches and replays the senator’s pledge to adopt a “sincere attitude” toward North Korea if elected — all music to the regime’s ears.
The Times speculates this is because the North Koreans believe a President Kerry — an avowed internationalist not known as a hard-liner on national security — would be easier to deal with on nuclear proliferation and other issues than the more hawkish Bush Administration.
Kerry, moreover, has expressed a willingness to negotiate directly with the North Koreans on the arms empasse, while Bush has rightly insisted on multi-lateral talks involving regional powers.
Don’t expect to see Kim Jong-il’s endorsement splashed across Kerry campaign literature or advertisements. But we think it might be the most important and revealing one yet, at least in terms of indicating how the world’s tyrants, aggressors and nuclear proliferators are sizing up the two candidates.