Throughout his campaign, Kerry has made it clear that he is not ready to cede to President Bush what Steve Rosenthal, the former political director of the AFL-CIO, once called "the hang test."
So whether it's been shooting pheasant, playing hockey, tossing a football, or riding a Harley, Kerry has been presented to the public as fun-loving, athletic, outdoorsy, and, most importantly, the kind of Democrat who crosses the "testosterone threshold" needed to be commander-in-chief.
But the exotic nature of some of the sports he plays (say, kite-surfing in Nantucket) and the great lengths he goes in order to play them (say, flying from Idaho to Oregon to windsurf), can have the unintended effect of making him seem out of touch with the hard-pressed middle class whose cares he says have been his concern.
As his plane was flying from Oregon to Idaho on Saturday, Kerry defended his taste in sports, saying, "The guys who do it are all local guys -- plumbers, construction workers."
Asked if these regular folks fly from one state to another, the husband of the condiment heiress downplayed the cost, saying, "What? 250 bucks for a ticket?"
Kerry was born in the 1940s. The people who do a lot of these things are 20-30 years earlier than he is. Usually you figure that you are getting too old for kite surfing when you hit 40. Heck, I know someone who tore up his knee and missed weeks of work while playing basketball on his 40th birthday.
Acting like you are in your 20s doesn't make a seem like a regular person. It makes you seem rich and spoiled.
I wonder if he skis backwards like the Kennedys.
Bush gives a different image when he is relaxing. He clears some brush, drives an SUV, and throws a barbecue. This is stuff that regular people his age do. Bush doesn't have to act like real folks, he is one.
Maybe that is why Kerry's poll numbers go down every time he makes appearances.