Parting Shots

Perhaps Kerry has tended to remain a non-entity, with all eyes focused on Bush. Reportedly, Oregon Democratic GOTV headquarters all stay on the topic of Bush — the grassroots is more afire against Bush than they are on Kerry. (The true believing Kerry haters will come out in full force after a potential Kerry victory, trust me… you see it with the Vietnam service nonsense.)

At first squemish sight, the “Anybody But Bush” Syndrome that has inflicted Academic Leftists (that’s the Zinn — Chomsky — Parienti axis I’ve referenced before), the Nixon-era Republicans, and various Radio Shock Jocks, looks like it has the probilitiy of being Trickster’s Bet of Native American folk tales fame, or the Anti-Christ Syndrome… you beg for anything, and get the worst or you see a Saviour that turns out to be anything but.

Consider it this way: Imagine an election pitting George W Bush with Adolf Hitler. I would have to place myself firmly in the “Anybody But Hitler” camp. Granted, we can have arguments over who made the worst foreign policy blunder: Hitler invading Russia or various tactical mistakes made in the Bush Adventure into Iraq, but I still would have to say “At least Bush isn’t in the process of systematically exterminating 6 million Jews and 3 million assorted other people.”

The other side of the coin came from a Bill Maher question to Ralph Nader. “If Kerry were running against Hitler, would you support Kerry?” Answer: “Yes.” The lesson here being that for Nader, Bush isn’t quite bad enough to register guilt in his possible spoil role.

During the fight for the primaries, my attitude — looking at the Democratic field — was “Anybody But Lieberman for title of Anybody But Bush.” Lieberman offers nothing, the other woeful candidate — Sharpton — was not a serious contender to even register — and the other candidates tended to offer something — some more than others.

Kerry does have some things going for him. Stare at his career and you will be able to pick out the moments that he stood out, and you will be able to pick out the moments where he clearly made politically-calculated moves, and some standard policy decisions that make him the eleventh most liberal Senator in the Current Senate (not much higher, not much lower.)

It may be a bit of an indictment of the electoral system that Kerry didn’t seem to think that pointing out his moments would do him much good amongst the body politic (and sadly, he may be right.) When a newsmagazine asked Bob Shrum the question, in an interview, of why Kerry didn’t focus any attention on Kerry’s work in breaking up the BCCI, Bob Shrum answered that it’s too complicated, would take too much effort to expalin, and in the end voters would be left wondering “Why would you want to break up the BBC?” Perhaps this sheds light on why Shrum is 0 for 7 in presidential elections: I think it can be boiled down to “I broke up the terrorists’ favourite bank.” [To wit, Bush would have to wait a couple weeks to see that it registered in the polls, and think of a way to — like Bush and Tora Bora — suggest that that’s absurd.]

There might also be an indictment of the news media there. Instead of covering political strategies and why items aren’t being used or are being used in the campaign, perhaps this news magazine could have done a story about this moment in Kerry’s career? On their own initiative, you know…

Kerry used his investigation into Iran Contra during the primaries, though only when his back was against the wall and a light clicked in his head that he’s trying to woo Democratic votes here. Apparently, fondness for Reagan — who single-handedly defeated Communism dontchaknow, and a need to reach moderate Republicans and “Reagan Democrats” throws this out of use.

It is difficult to see how he could work his work settling the various issues concerning pows in Vietnam and normalizing relations with that nation. Likely the public considers it irrelevant. But, it’s good to namedrop his partner in that little crime, John McCain. (That’s why a group of Vietnam Veterans during the 2000 primary hated McCain and were willing to smear him for Bush, btw.)

Should a President Kerry provide inspired leadership in the “War on Terror”ism, it will be with a firm foundation that echos his investigative background in the Senate. That’s a good thing. Should a President Kerry provide uninspired leadership, it’ll still be better than what Bush has given us.

During Kerry’s initial post-nomination slide in the polls, Slate or Salon or some such Internet source ran a piece pondering whether the nomination of Kerry was the latest in a long line of Democratic candidates that the body politic just finds too boring, bland, or wooden to imagine having to listen to. Norman Mailer said that McGovern was great, but damned is he boring to listen to. Mondale was a terrible public speaker. And Dukakis and Gore round out the list.

This begs a question. If we end up with a matter of style over substance… um… Bush? “Too many OB-GYNs are unable to practice their LOVE“??? A march toward a “free-ance pe-ance” Iraq ???

In the end, I’m left staring at Kerry and asking: “No. Really. Why Not??”

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