Thursday, September 30, 2004
My take on John Kerry is ambiguous, in that I don't like him. Not much ambiguity there, I guess, but I still hope he wins. Some radical part of me keeps saying that four more years of Bush, while disastrous for the country and indeed the entire world, would be great for grassroots progressive organizing-- exactly the kind of thing we need to secure positive change in the long run. But I think four more years of watching a trained bonobo running around pretending to be in charge of the country I still, despite my better interests, indeed something like a battered wife, still love would finally drive me over the edge, set me to carving obscenities into my forearms with rusty cutlery, make a kamikaze run at the White House with a circa '84 dangerously lifelike squirt-gun, maybe even cause me to volunteer myself as exchange for the Expos.

Not that Montreal would be in any way equivalent to scarification-- has anyone ever seen an unattractive French Canadian woman? Some Canadians insist they exist, but the same can be said of Sasquatch so there you go. Some Berlitz tapes... hey, my Latin teachers always told me, in auto-defensive response to the charge that they taught a dead language, that my studies would allow me to pick up any Romance language with little to no effort.

But John Kerry. The man ran a primary campaign based on a chimaera of "electability" and has gone on to run a campaign... I was corrected by Snarkout last night (during a political break from the dancing at the RJD2 show (manoman, it's been too long since I went out and DANCED!)) when I claimed that it made one nostalgic for Al Gore. Al Gore had run an incompetent campaign, he schooled me, while Kerry's is merely really really really bad.

And I can't shake the memory of my time with Boston Mobilization for Survival, working on the Campaign for the Iraqi People, a group of anti-sanctions activists. Any time we contacted Kerry's office we would get a not-even-royal brushoff: Kerry supported the president's position, end of story.

And no matter how much he skirts it, no matter how much his apologists try to explain it away, Kerry voted to give the president authority to go to war. He can protest that he was given bad information, that he expected the president to use the authority more prudently, but the truth remains that doing such was a thorough abdication of responsibility. One can't sign a blank check, hand it to an untrustworthy individual, and protest later that one never imagined this snake would empty out an entire bank account because he had promised only to fill it in for a buck fifty. At least one can't do it if one doesn't want to be seen as an utter dupe, an irredemable moron, or both.

All that said, it was great fun watching this sunshellacked wooden weasel of a man wiping the podium with his subsimian opponent, especially for the extreme comedic value of our chimp-in-chief's stuttering, halting, blinking twelve times per second (there were times at which I swear his eyelashed were giving hummingbird wings a run for their money,) head bobbling, lolling left and right, beady- and blankeyed, mouth a black line slanting across his jaw responses: repeating the same weak points over and over, using the exact same phrases each time, banging them endlessly like a carpenter with only three nails. When given a chance to elaborate, when asked directly to elaborate, to deepen, to expand his argument, he didn't seem aware that such a thing was even within the realms of human possibility. My housemate, her laptop propped on her knees, read somebody's instant assessment that the man's tone was that of a cornered boyfriend desperately trying to convince his girl that things would work out if she gave him one more chance.

But he did let the nation know of the supreme strategic importance of Poland.

And so begins the spin. The Democrats have wisened up a bit in four years. Remembering the Repubilcans' savvy at turning a clear defeat into a victory in the first Bush/Gore debate by spinning body language, they have learned to declare victory immediately and hold onto it, sending out emails to their supporters asking them to stuff the ballot box at every online poll available, write letters to the editor, call radio shows. They've learned from Karl Rove that even a lie repeated often enough becomes the truth.

But the spinmeisters of the right, shifting their lines of force faster than a jujitsu master, have already found their new footing: even if Kerry won the debate, what he needed to do was win it decisively, and his win was not shattering enough. Sure, he might have won the debate, they say, sure Bush unscripted looked every bit the spluttering idiot he is, but so what? Even though he showed himself to be better informed on foreign policy, even though he argued convincingly that Bush's plans were failed and that he could do better, even though Bush dodged 90% of the questions with all the subtlety and grace with which he dodged service in Vietnam and couldn't even pronounce "Vladimir," people still trust Bush more on foreign policy.

The debate was a victory for the Senator, a few more victories like that will ruin him. Cynically masterful and masterfully cynical. One can imagine Rove's cologne: a subtle mix of charcoal and rotten eggs, with high notes of something left in the road by a passing show pony.

Lucky for me I live in DC, which means that I not only have no say in my local governance (behold Congress trying to force unlicensed assault weapons on our fair district), I also have no meaningful vote in the Presidential Election. I could even vote for Bush with a clear conscience, knowing that he has only a slightly better chance of getting the District's electors than I have of finding love. And so with a perfectly clear conscience I plan to go into a voting booth on November 2 and vote for David Cobb.

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