The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Tuesday, January 27, 2004  

From Kucinich to Kerry

I am, as my more perceptive readers are aware, currently reading one of the greatest novels of all time, Don Quixote, in the recent and incomparable translation of Philadelphia native Edith Grossman, a book that was the generous donation to me of a favorite blogger’s wife.

I read Don Quixote, in a different translation, 20 years ago, in a book given to me by my beloved older sister J.

Reading the novel again is like reading it for the first time.

It’s better than I remember. And it’s much funnier than I remember. It is truly a masterpiece of literature. And Grossman’s translation, with her unrivaled intelligence and perceptive recognition of, well, just about everything, and her judicious use of informative footnotes, will rank forever among the greatest accomplishments of translation.

While reading Don Quixote I have been reminded of phrases, at least two, that through this great novel, have entered our vernacular.

First, “quixotic,” and second, “tilting at wildmills.” I’m inclined, whether genetically or environmentally, toward both, both the “quixotic” and the “tilting.”

And so, when the 2004 presidential campaign began, I, a quixotic man of tilting principle, or such as I like to think of myself, began by backing Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio).

I know -- I knew -- it was a long shot. But Kucinich too, I knew, was and is a man of principle. “They don’t get it,” my friends told me of the voters, the voters I knew would benefit more from no one in the White House but the very same Dennis Kucinich.

I’m never 100 percent satisfied with any candidate I support. Kucinich’s backtracking on the abortion issue alone was, to me, extraordinarily disappointing. Kucinich could have, I think, used his iconoclastic and unorthodox opinion to his advantage. He chose not to do so. A mistake, a big one, even, I think, but such is for him, and not me, to decide.

But tonight I am switching allegiances. And despite his otherwise unaccpetable views on abortion, I am shifting, changing, my support, my backing, from Kucinich to Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.).

We need to win in November, and I think Kerry is the man to do just that.

More to come.

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