W. David Jenkins III: Avoiding Hari-Kerry
By W. David Jenkins III
Does anybody else feel like he’s riding a roller-coaster gone wild?
Like the Police song, ''Too Much Information,'' there seems to be this bombardment of headlines all pointed in the same direction in an effort to confuse everybody. One minute you feel hopeful, and the next you feel like hiding under your bed. One poll shows Bush ahead by eight points while another shows Kerry ahead by two. The airwaves are full of CBS’s forged document dilemma (while ignoring the fact that the content of those documents was accurate) yet credence is given to the latest bit of bile from the not-so-swift boaters. The election we’ve all been waiting for is coming up real quick and I find myself torn between wanting more time before people vote and the feeling of let’s just get this over with!
Last Monday, during a speech at New York University, Kerry seemed to finally get his bearings. I had heard how he did best when his back was up against the wall, but I was starting to wonder if he was going to wait until he was pushed through the wall into the next room before he got a grip. I mean, really – between the bee-ess being vomited by the not-so-swift boaters and the indefensible comments by Cheney and Hastert warning of a Kerry-induced terrorist attack, I was beginning to wonder if Kerry had a pulse, let alone any drive. You could almost hear, above the sounds of gnashing teeth, the pleading to Kerry to hit them back already! His speech at New York University provided not only a ray of hope but also a perfect contrast to Bush’s finger-wagging at the United Nations the next day. As Bill Mahar says, “New rule.” Forget about Viet Nam. Let’s talk about the disaster in Iraq.
The afternoon this was written Bush and his hand-picked Charlie McCarthy, Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, gave a nice little photo-op in the Rose Garden. This was an appropriate setting as both were hard-pressed to paint the rosy Iraqi landscape they saw through their rose-colored glasses. They crossed their arms and stamped their feet while insisting that everything was going just fine in Iraq – elections were coming soon and thousands of Iraqis were being trained to take over their own security. They have the jump on the insurgency and, dammit, things are just fine for the most part so take a chill, go buy “Unfit for Command” and just lay off, okay? Besides, did you see how Iraqi forces under the command of my pal Ayad quelled that recent unrest in Najaf? Wasn’t that awesome?
Umm, okay, sure guys. Until one realizes that it was the efforts of a recently returned Shiite, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who actually defused that little “situation” last month. This is the same gentleman who represents the majority population in Iraq, by the way, and who warned of the chance that those elections scheduled for January may not be feasible. Seems as though he’s concerned that the ground rules regarding representation in these elections are being set mostly by Iraqi exiles and American hand-picked leaders (for instance, my pal Ayad Allawi) for the most part and that just is not going to fly. But don’t pay any attention to that because things are going just fine.
Of course, this is only one example of the realities that Bush and his fellow followers from fairyland just can’t bring themselves to admit exists. There are many, many other examples of reality that the Bushies are running from and doing their best to camouflage with other things, with the help of a compliant media of course. The CBS fiasco is a perfect example of diversions that the Bush Gang is famous for (I’m sorry, but the whole thing just reeks of Rove) and totally dependent on, in order to keep their numbers where they are during the campaign.
But Kerry and Company need focus and it looks like they’ve finally found it. At least I hope so. And they need to get a shot of backbone (paging Howard Dean) and just spell out the black and the white – they need to fight the poison with the truth. C’mon, John, just say it. The extreme right wing of the right wing has had complete control for a little over two years and this country – and the rest of the world – is a complete disaster! Jesus H. Ashcroft, John, just say it! It’s not like there isn’t enough evidence to prove it. Just look at what’s happened over the last few years. Hell, look at the last week or so.
Bush allowed the assault weapons ban to die a not-so-quiet death. Families dependent on the Section 8 housing voucher system are being targeted for cuts in their benefits, thus forcing many low income families to join the army of the homeless. And just in case the working poor still couldn’t feel the knife in their backs, the Republicans have rejected extending the Child Tax Care Credit benefit to those families making less than $11,000 dollars a year while simultaneously adding another $13,000,000,000,000 worth of tax advantages to large corporations. How’s that for compassionate conservatism?
America has come to represent something altogether different in the eyes of the world under Bush’s version of “leadership.” We are viewed with gravest suspicion and a sense of fearful loathing due to the actions taken by various members of this administration.
Who could have imagined that the office of the Attorney General would ever issue a memo that describes circumstances under which torture would be legal? Who could have imagined an America where its own citizens would be subject to incarceration without charge or due process for an indefinite period of time – merely because the president said they could be?
Looking at the numbers coming out, it would seem that there are far too many people who are living in the same rosy denial that Bush Inc. has wrapped around itself. Is it possible that there are people who feel comfortable with the fact that over one thousand soldiers have been sacrificed in Iraq because the administration lied to them just to win their support? Is it possible that people are comfortable with a leader who would do anything and everything possible to prevent and, only after relenting under insistent public pressure, obstruct any investigation into the worst day in America’s history – and then have the audacity to prostitute that day for his own political gain?
Many of us have spent the last four years watching and listening to what these criminals have said and done. We have marveled that more people have taken to getting information from multiple sources and wondering why more haven’t realized the wealth of information that exists for them to explore, instead of relying on the watered-down, submissive caterwauling that passes for today's journalism. As I stated last time out, the media must accept the responsibility for the phenomenon that is our wide-spread uninformed electorate. There is little any of us can do about it either except to constantly point this out to them or simply turn off our television sets.
But there is still evidence of hope this time around. I don’t know about your community, but I have noticed here in my upstate New York conservative pothole I call home that there are not as many Bush/Cheney signs as last time. Back in 2000 they were multiplying like rabbits, but this year you really have to drive around to find any. Maybe the shame factor has taken a hold on some Bush supporters. Maybe there is a section of the electorate that will support Bush, but they just don’t want anyone to find out. Makes perfect sense to me.
Another thing to do as a step in avoiding a melt-down is to ignore the polls. There have been articles and newsletters circulating the Internet in an effort to expose the various slants and inaccuracies when it comes to interpreting poll numbers. It all boils down to the fact that you can make poll numbers come out anyway you like – it just depends on how you ask the questions and whom you ask those questions. Not only that, but these polls are conducted by interviewing likely voters and does not include the reportedly enormous numbers of new registrants who realize the threat imposed by the Bush administration – and are voting for the first time in their lives.
The other thing we need is unity. I know I’m going to anger some folks out there but now is not the time to make an idealistic political point. Let’s get real here. As much as I admire many of the things that Nader and Kucinich stand for, it ain’t gonna happen, kids. I’m sure many of you have witnessed the continued infighting and discussions between fellow lefties about Kerry being no different from Bush – and, yes, the parallels are there. This is the same damn thing that helped bring about Bush’s “election” last time around and as imperfect as Kerry might be, that difference amounts to nothing when compared to the guaranteed destructive effect of four more years of Bush. Like I’ve said before, let’s get back in the house and then we can worry about re-arranging the furniture.
But most of all, Kerry needs to put away the spit-balls he’s been firing at Bush Inc., take off the gloves and start pounding the stuffing out of his opponent. The Rose Garden conference coupled with the latest nonsense – the release of a GOP financed, spurious circular to millions of voters in two separate states accusing liberals with the intent to ban the Bible should they gain control of congress – show just how low they will go and just how desperate they are. Kerry needs to be as concise as possible because he’s dealing with an electorate that suffers from a sound-bite mentality and he needs to cede nothing to the Bushies. Kerry is up against misinformation, unverifiable touch-screen voting machines and voter intimidation in the Red States – not to mention the upcoming October surprise (I got five bucks on bin Laden’s “capture” – ten bucks on a “terrorist attack”). The Bushies have a bent-over media at their bequest, so I don’t put anything past ‘em. If the last four years have taught us anything, it is Bush Inc.’s ability to get away with anything – with the media’s enthusiastic help, of course.
Iraq never was an immediate threat. Al Qaeda might be, but Bush isn’t paying much attention to them anyway. No, the real immediate threat to America is the possibility of four more years of George W. Bush and all that entails. This is the message – this threat – that must be driven home. Kerry must find a way to convince America that it isn’t just the terrorists who “hate us for our freedoms.”