by Alexander Cockburn
I tried shouting "Kerry-Edwards" on the step out to my garden. The cat yawned, and the flowers drooped. Democrats know this in their hearts. Twit them about Kerry's dreariness, reminiscent of thin, cold chowder or Weeping Ed Muskie, and one gets the upraised hand and petulant cry, "I don't want to hear a word against Kerry!" It was as though the Democratic candidate has been entombed, pending resurrection as president, with an honor guard of the National Organization of Women, the AFL-CIO, the League of Conservation Voters, Taxpayers for Justice and the NAACP. To open the tomb prematurely to admit the oxygen of life and criticism is to commit an intolerable blasphemy against political propriety.
As an inspirational candidate, he's a dud, even damper a political squib than Michael Dukakis and far less appealing, by dint of his chill snobbery. Three terms in the U.S. Senate have left almost no footprints of interest, except to Karl Rove's propagandists eager to transform this utterly conventional figure into a seditious radical, hell-bent on putting the Pentagon out of business. A seasoned staffer on one of the military appropriations committees described Kerry deprecatingly to me as "the ghost senator; around here he doesn't count for anything."
In the early days of his Senate career, Kerry made headlines with hearings on Contra-CIA drug smuggling and on BCCI, the crooked Pakistani bank linked to the CIA. Some of the Senate elders must have told him to mind his manners. The watchdog's barks died abruptly.
Kerry offers himself up mainly as a more competent manager of the Bush agenda, a steadier hand on the helm of the Empire. His pedigree is immaculate. He was a founder-member of the Democratic Leadership Council, the claque of neoliberals that has sought to reshape it as a hawkish and pro-business party with a soft spot for abortion -- essentially a stingier version of the Rockefeller Republicans. Kerry enthusiastically backed both of Bush's wars, and in June of 2004, at the very moment Bush signaled a desire to retreat, the senator called for 25,000 new troops to be sent to Iraq, with a plan for the U.S. military to remain entrenched there for at least the next four years.
Kerry supported the Patriot Act without reservation or even much contemplation. Lest you conclude that this was a momentary aberration sparked by the post-9/11 hysteria, consider the fact that Kerry also voted for the two Clinton-era predecessors to the Patriot Act, the 1994 Crime Bill and the 1996 Counter-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act.
Although, once his nomination was assured, he regularly hammed it up in photo-ops with the barons of big labor. Kerry voted for NAFTA, the WTO and virtually every other job-slashing trade pact that came before the Senate. He courted and won the endorsement of nearly every police association in the nation, regularly calling for another 100,000 cops on the streets and even tougher criminal sanctions against victimless crimes. He refused to reconsider his fervid support for the insane war on drug users, which has destroyed families and clogged our prisons with more than 2 million people, many of them young black men, whom the draconian drug laws specifically target without mercy. Kerry backed the racist death penalty and minimum mandatory sentences.
Like Joe Lieberman, Kerry marketed himself as a cultural prude, regularly chiding teens about the kind of clothes they wear, the music they listen to and the movies they watch. But even Lieberman didn't go so far as to support the Communications Decency Act. Kerry did. Fortunately, even this Supreme Court had the sense to strike the law down, ruling that it trampled across the First Amendment. All of this is standard fare for contemporary Democrats. But Kerry always went the extra mile. The senator cast a crucial vote for Clinton's bill to dismantle welfare for poor mothers and their children.
Month by month Kerry has methodically disappointed one more liberal constituency. In April, it was labor, admonished that Kerry's prime task would be to battle the deficit. In May and again in July, it was women, informed that the candidate shared with the anti-abortion lobby its view of the relationship between conception and the start of life and that he would be prepared to nominate anti-choice judges. In June, it was the anti-war legions, to whom Kerry pledged four more years of occupation in Iraq.
He's not offering Americans anything. In essence, his program is gloom and doom. Did anyone ever win a presidential election on such terms?
July 30, 2004 (http://www.albionmonitor.net) All Rights Reserved. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for permission to use in any format.
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