So it’s the Kennedy-coifed war-waffler against the dim-witted deserter. Or Kerry vs. Bush if you like.
With the Dean machine shaken apart by “The Scream,” the fickle Democratic polity, ever-seeking electability, has eyes only for the Massachusetts war hero. Age, height, weight and political opinions don’t matter (though race and sex still do). “Anybody but Bush” is all that counts. A Newsweek poll from January revealed that 65 percent of Democrats think Kerry is the candidate most likely to beat Bush in November.
Yet alarms are already sounding about Kerry. Some call Kerry and Bush birds of a feather, not just because both were Skull and Bonesmen. Even Kerry’s policy director Sarah Bianchi has said, “He’s not the lefty in this race.”
Kerry is a member of the rightist Democratic Leadership Council. He’s an ardent free-trader, supported Clinton’s welfare “reform,” cast yes votes for the Patriot Act and its precursor, the Counter-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, approved the invasion for Iraq and has spoke in favor of Bush’s “preventive war” doctrine. He likes most of Bush’s tax cuts and has little to offer the millions of Americans lacking healthcare.
Kerry legislative career is instructive. It barely exists. He has never authored a major piece of legislation and sits on the Senate’s Commerce Committee, making him the darling of corporate lobbyists who have rewarded Kerry with more dollars than any other senator during the last 15 years.
But Kerry still positions himself as the anti-Bush and ducks behind his war record when the incoming questions land too close to his flimsy record.
The presidential contest will be a blue-blooded brawl. In a time of war and economic woes the race will instead be about military credentials and gay marriage. Expect the rabid right to trash Teresa Heinz Kerry for having her own opinions, her own wealth and the unmitigated gall to be European. The right has already manufactured two fantasy scandals – an alleged affair Kerry had with an intern and a doctored photo showing Kerry and Jane Fonda appearing together at a Vietnam-era anti-war rally. The ensuing press hounding will result in the inevitable “Questions About Kerry” headlines.
Nonetheless, Bush is a clear and present danger. Some on the left argue Bush is hastening empire’s decline by tax-cutting and spending the nation into bankruptcy and grinding down the Pentagon with his war-mongering, but Bush is also bulldozing all but the billionaires into a global mass grave.
The first term has been scary enough. A second term may spell the end of social security, civil liberties, organized labor, environmental regulation, reproductive rights and a century of progressive legislation.
The question for the desperate Dems is: What are they going to do if Kerry wins in November?
The anti-Bush legions will likely go back to their mall-crawling and latte-sipping ways, setting the stage for further disaster. President Kerry will govern as Bush Lite, which his apologists will label the “politics of the possible.” The Republican four or eight years down the road will probably be even worse than Dubya.
Since Lyndon Johnson, the trajectory of the presidency has been hard right. While Nixon was the Freddy Krueger of foreign policy, his domestic policies are still the most progressive of any president since. Ford was a cipher and Carter launched the military buildup that Reagan added to. Ronnie was unable to pass his followers’ wish list, but his tax cuts and assaults on federal programs knocked the support from social-welfare policies. Bush senior, having to deal with a Democratic Congress, had a better domestic record than Clinton, who downsized government, junked social programs, supersized the police state and deregulated everything.
A Kerry presidency will leave no corporation behind. With no mechanism for popular input the political process defaults to elites – large media, congressional members, lobbyists, advisers, think-tanks – almost all of which are corporate fronts.
And few expect Kerry to do anything positive. For his supporters, it’s enough that he won’t blow up half the globe, strip mine the rest and lock us all into detention camps.
Bush must be defeated. Realize, however, if Kerry wins we have to spend the next four years fighting the Democrats’ me-too Republican policies just as hard as we have fought Bush.