Sunday, May 09, 2004

Ronnie and I have been going back in forth in the comments over Kerry's character. Here's my stance: I don't care. Sure, he's a politician. He dodges tough questions and equivicates over his less popular stances. But I prefer that to Bush, who rarely if ever even agrees to be in the same room as someone who disagrees with him and does everything in his power to stop tough questions from even being asked. As far as his unpopular stances, he flat out lies. Do a Google search for "patient's bill of rights", Texas and veto for a clear example. Or research stem cell lines, funding for AIDS, or, well, pretty much anything you hear him say.

I don't listen to Bush's speeches because his presidency is like a bad cable descrambler that shows you the video from one channel but the audio from something else. There's very little connection between what he says and consensual reality, and even less relationship with what he does.

That's the thing with politicians: if you pay attention to what they day, but not what they do, you're asking to get screwed. Bush has nearly bankrupt the US, taken us into an elective war on false pretenses, imprisoned US citizens without any public airing of the evidence, trashed our worldwide reputation, fucked up Medicare, cut the flow of information in and out of government, ignored verified, working economics in his strategy for dealing with job loss and the economy, opened our national treasures up to mining and logging interests, rewarded his largest campaign contributors with federal appointments and no-bid contracts, established an atmosphere where human rights is given lip service, if that, and accountability is just a word in a campaign speech, leading to military prisons where our soldiers are encouraged to use whatever means necessary to get the answers our leaders want to hear, never mind the truth and never mind that it's made winning the war in Iraq impossible.

Kerry, boring, unprincipled politician that he is, has detailed written plans for our foreign policy that are as in accordance as is possible with both realism and with the best ideals of our country. He proposes domestic policies based on sound economic principles instead of soundbites. His history in government tells that he won't put his ass too far out on the line for anyone but himself, but that he seems to recognize that we as a society are only as strong as the least of these among us, and his history as a person tells me that he probably genuinely believes that having been lucky enough to be born into wealth and priviledge obligates him to some sort of public service.

Bush, on the other hand, was best summed up by Molly Ivins as "born on third based, and gone through life thinking he hit a triple." He's never made a hard choice in his life, never questioned his good fortune, and never run a successful business that wasn't made so by his connections in government. Since he took office, his hands-off "CEO" leadership style has led to disaster after disaster. He's proven, once and for all, just how much damage a president can do to a country. I shudder to think what he might do with four more years.

So I don't have a lot of patience for "Kerry's a liar, too" or words to that effect. The time for that was before the nomination and it will come again, as soon as he's elected. But we can't afford another four years of a self-justifying, silver-spooned preppie moron in a cowboy suit, so I'm supporting the candidate I dislike the least: John Kerry. I'm not hugely enthusiastic about him, and I'm not saying that Kerry should be above criticism, even temporarily but parroting the RNC talking points that show up on TV news and the Sunday morning talk shows isn't helping our country get back on track.

If you hear some talking head spewing "facts", treat it with the same skepticism you'd treat an email from Nigeria wanting your bank account numbers. If you read it on a blog, check it out. And don't just follow their links. Check it out yourself. In this day and age, there's no excuse but laziness for taking someone's word for a convenient story. Billie likes to say "trust, but verify". Good advice, but a step too far when it comes to politics. Just verify. Don't take anyone's word for anything, and assume that any story that sounds too good to be true probably is.

And don't treat "liar", "politician", or even "patrician asshole" as binary categories. Read up on fuzzy logic and recognize that Aristotle was wrong: everything is both A and Not A to a certain degree. The world is filled with shades of gray, and perfect is very rarely on the menu. Democracy is messy, the choice is usually between "bad" and "not as bad", and the only way to keep things going in the right direction is to stay informed and stay loud.

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