The Airing of Grievances
Tuesday, April 27, 2004
Drudge links to an article from this week’s Village Voice today, which serves as a personal last straw, prompting me to air a grievance that has been percolating for a good month now. The grievance is towards those on the left who, in the middle of April, are already armchair quarterbacking the election and beating up on their own candidate. The perpetrator in this instance, James Ridgeway, a regular, very liberal, contributor to the Voice and AlterNet, takes Kerry to task for his wealthy standing, the recent medal/ribbon controversy, and his “uninspriing record in the Senate (yes war, no war)”, obviously referring to the perception of Kerry as a flip-flopper. If I didn’t know better, I would think Ridgeway was writing for the Weekly Standard, as he shamelessly regurgitates the myths regularly found in Bush campaign propoganda in both castigating those who abandonded Howard Dean and wishfully thinking about an 11th hour party upheval that pushes Kerry aside. I hate to break it to cry-babies like Ridgeway, but the primary process wasn’t even close. We picked Kerry and we did so in convincing fashion. Accept it, understand what is at stake, and figure out how best to position the man who should be your candidate.
This is not to say that John Kerry is without flaw. If I had my way, he would be a bit more aggressive (though he has improved dramatically on that front this week), he would be more forthcoming and he would worry less about appealing to everyone and give straighter, less politically maneuvering, answers. These are small adjustments. There are plenty of websites and resources out there that effectively neutralize many of the more ludicrous charges made about John Kerry, incudling the flip-flop nonsense, his supposed special interest ties, his love of raising taxes, and the whole medals non-story. Click here, here, here, and here for a taste. Also, surprisingly, this website gives a pretty fair treatment of Kerry, despite its title, which continues to reinforce the self-loathing liberal image that I find so grevious. And check this article out if you actually want to see what a rare pro-Kerry article from a left-wing media source looks like. The real flaws that you are then left with seem inconsequential, particularly when you contrast them against Bush’s in the geopolitical environment in which we find ourselves. That the left continues to gnaw and obsess over them when it is a time to be on the attack, supporting the candidate, makes no sense.
I attribute this self-loathing to two factors: First, the primary process was begun, at the urging of the DNC powers-that-be, at the earliest point in an election year ever and was effectively over within three weeks. No matter who was chosen, they would be campaigning longer than anyone else in history. With more time to think about it, the more likely the “buyer’s remorse” sets in, particularly when you constrast the occasionally shaky performance of Kerry The Candidate with the memories of the sexy, populist, Internet-driven campaigns of Dean and Edwards.
The more important factor is the instant gratification society that is 21st century America and how the campaign process has lost its place in such an environment. We don’t want to get to know John Kerry over time, we won’t allow him to make the mistakes that all candidates make, we want him to fix his flaws, give us a list of his positions, differentiate himself from Bush, talk tough and stand up to the right-wing attack machine, and be a generally kick-ass kind of guy, all right now, all in one campaign speech. If it doesn’t happen, the whinging starts. Sorry, but it doesn’t happen that way, people. Campaigns ebb and flow and there has never been a perfect candidate. Clinton, in 1992, endured obstacles and accusations (some of which actually had merit) far more serious than those being lobbed at Kerry and yet he pulled through.
I have no better way of closing than quoting a post I made last week on a bulletin board on, of all things, a sports blog:
"The pissing and moaning of the anti-Bush camp is what occasionally makes me ashamed to be a part of it, not what the Kerry campaign is or isn't doing. If the campaign sucks so much, quit bitching and do something to be a more active part of it. Donate money to Kerry/DNC, do some volunteer campaign work, take a vacation to sunny Florida in September or October and spend a couple days going door-to-door (think about how things might have been different if 100 people did that in 2000), figure out where the closely contested Senate races are and donate/volunteer there (remember, Dems only need two Senate seats to ensure a majority and a check on the president), anything. Pointing fingers is easy, making the effort to actually change things is not. [/soapbox]"