Dana Milbank writes about John Kerry’s Philly faux pax:

[T]he Massachusetts Democrat went to Pat’s Steaks and ordered a cheesesteak — with Swiss cheese. If that weren’t bad enough, the candidate asked photographers not to take his picture while he ate the sandwich; shutters clicked anyway, and Kerry was caught nibbling daintily at his sandwich — another serious faux pas.

“It will doom his candidacy in Philadelphia,” predicted Craig LaBan, food critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer, which broke the Sandwich Scandal. After all, Philly cheesesteaks come with Cheez Whiz, or occasionally American or provolone. But Swiss cheese? “In Philadelphia, that’s an alternative lifestyle,” LaBan explained.

And don’t even mention Kerry’s dainty bites. “Obviously, Kerry’s a high-class candidate, and he misread the etiquette,” LaBan said. “Throwing fistfuls of steak into the gaping maw, fingers dripping — that’s the proper way.”

For Kerry, a Boston Brahmin, this is something of a sore spot. As he seeks to lose his reputation for $75 Salon Cristophe haircuts, Turnbull & Asser shirts and long fingernails to play classical guitar, he has been seen riding a motorcycle and doing other regular-guy things.

Now, I’m no fan of Kerry’s politics. And, as Milbanks points out, George H.W. Bush got into political trouble over being intrigued by a bar code reader. But this sort of thing is ridiculous. Kerry is a combat veteran of the Vietnam War with a Silver Star, Bronze Star with “V” device, and three Purple Hearts. He’s hardly an effete mamma’s boy.

His weblog, however, won’t be appearing on my blogroll any time soon. . .

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2004, , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Steven says:

    It is silly, and certainly has nothing to do with one’s qualifications to be the President.

    It is amusing, however, when Dems in particular do this kind of stuff, since they are supposed to be “of the people”.

    Of course, you lose either way. Dubya gets slammed because he likes burgers and fries.

  2. Jim says:

    Who knows how this will play. People (reporters, bloggers) repeat the Bush scanner story even though it has been debunked! It came from the New York Times. What a surprise! Link to story at

  3. Matthew says:

    He’s hardly an effete mamma’s boy.

    Given his military service, George Herbert Walker Bush was hardly one, either, but that didn’t stop Democrats from calling him a wimp. Look for Howard Dean or Dick Gephardt to go to Philly and eat a cheesesteak the right way.

  4. Scipio says:

    Ah, but Kerry is a blinkered Philistine who doesn’t know how to eat a cheesesteak, the quintessential food of the people in Philly. That’s the real issue here, not that he’s an effete mama’s boy, but that he’s a stand-offish upper class git trying desperately to be hip.

  5. Bill says:

    I was also amazed that you repeated the story about Bush 41 and the bar code scanner. The reporter who invented the story wasn’t even in the room! And the story ran into common sense problems: Cramer in his tome on the 1988 elections said that a key problem the Secret Service had in protecting VP Bush was his habit of impulsively stopping the car and running into stores to buy gifts for his thousands of friends, relatives, etc. Bush 41 was well aware of scanners, he just was intrigued when shown a cutting edge version.

  6. James Joyner says:


    I repeated the story as an example of something silly being blown out of proportion. I had forgotten the exact details of the situation, but recollected that it was a “new” type of scanner that Bush was “amazed” by.