There are two good reasons for an American politician to write his memoirs. The first is that he was the president of the United States...The second reason is that the politician has something to say, some notable experience or insight that he can relay from his time in office. John Kerry fits snugly into the second category—he was a U.S. senator from Massachusetts, a secretary of state and in 2004 the Democratic presidential nominee—but he seems to think that he belongs in the first. With almost 600 pages of dense text and 24 pages of color photographs, Every Day Is Extra isn’t so much a memoir as a full autobiography.
Remember boredom, sweet boredom? John Kerry’s new memoir, like its author, is reserved and idealistic and reassuringly dull, for long stretches, in its statesmanlike carriage ... Every Day Is Extra is a booster shot of old school, small-l liberal values. It is bland the way upper-class food used to be bland. It reminds you why Kerry would probably have made a very good president. It also reminds you why he lost.
John Kerry has written a solid political memoir. Every Day Is Extra offers a detailed record of an important life, a dutiful recounting of long-forgotten triumphs and setbacks, and a high-minded coda about the virtues of public service. Like others in its genre, it is long and slow, but it is frank, thoughtful and clearly written. Aspiring candidates and officials will find good career advice; wonks will appreciate the ticktocks of negotiations on Israel, Iran and climate change; cynics will see it as a trial balloon for one last run. There are a few mini-revelations, but what lingers are not the parts but the whole; not the life, but the man ... As the chapters proceed, the narrator seems increasingly a man out of time, a ghost from an age when class meant something more than money. This is Buddenbrooks via Louis Auchincloss, told by someone in the tomb where it happened ... Every Day Is Extra is a bittersweet reminder of what the country once demanded of its leaders, and what the American upper classes once aspired to supply. Today’s meritocratic elites want power without responsibility. They should have learned from people like Kerry. Some might learn from one of his St. Paul’s classmates, Robert Swan Mueller III.