Sen. Kerry, the Olympics bring to mind the Greek Tragedies and the word catharsis -- And we Americans are a forgiving people
The comments to this post were as follows:
Rusty observed: "The Kerry campaign has been stumbling around like a drunken teenage girl on prom night, and not just on this issue, The response the Swift Boat Fibbers has been sad to watch. Those spokespeople need to get together and coordinate and get some message discipline. Bush is creeping back up in the polls, and will likely get a bigger bounce from his convention than Kerry did, despite what conventional wisdom would dictate. How Bush is even still in this election is beyond me..."
Mae commented: "Lets just let Edwards answer policy questions on everything."
I commented to the comments: "Calling it sad is being kind. I think I know what Kerry needs to do, and I have been debating whether to post it for several days. Your comment has given me the resolve to say yes, do it. I hope someone can get it to Kerry. I am going to send it to the group Veterans for Kerry of which I am a member, but all are afraid to tell the Emperor he is naked. He needs to get his mess straight. Time is our enemy. Bush should not be a factor now, and he is more than ever. My post will be tomorrow, and it will address your very point. Kerry must do something and now."
Well, I didn't do the post yesterday, and the rain continued over the weekend. Today there is a N.Y. Times article that discusses Bush's direct role in shaping election tactics and his unusual level of involvement in the campaign and campaign decisions. One quote from the article concerns Kelly's dumb "Yes" answer:
"Two weeks ago, after learning that Mr. Kerry said he would have voted to authorize the president to invade Iraq even if he had known that Saddam Hussein was not armed with unconventional weapons, the president jumped at what he described as a political opening, aides said.
"That was a mistake - we need to seize on it," Mr. Bush said, according to aides. The next day, he began hammering Mr. Kerry on the issue, and has not stopped."
Today on The Georgia Gang Bill Shipp questioned the sanity of those running Kerry's campaign, noting that Bush must have a spy within the campaign's ranks suggesting moves guaranteed to fail (this is a lot of paraphrasing other than the "spy" bit).
In particular, Mr. Shipp wondered why in the world would the campaign have sent former Sen. Max Cleland to Crawford, Texas in the recent campaign stunt, something that further focuses on Vietnam, an issue that is killing Kerry. (We discussed the stunt in an earlier post entitled "I hope Cleland and the press corps flew Delta -- Otherwise what a waste of our Kerry political contributions.")
Folks, the Okefenokee Swamp (and no damnit, I didn't say anything about Route 3 Swamp Road) is about 45 minutes from Douglas. Some of us old-timers remember a comic strip entitled Pogo. A likeness of Pogo is on the water tower in downtown Waycross. Pogo and his friends lived in the Okefenokee Swamp, and one of Pogo's most famous lines was "We have met the enemy . . . and he is us." (Pogo's creator was Walt Kelly, an animator who worked with Walt Disney, and yes, this is another story.)
You know where this is leading, and thus I won't say it.
The weekend The Macon Telegraph had an editorial entitled "Candidates shortchanging electorate with side issues." The well-reasoned editorial reads as follows:
All right, presidential candidates, you've had your fun. It's time now to cut short the dog-and-pony show and concentrate on dealing with real issues facing this country.
While they may think it's accomplishing their goals when they blindside the American public with antics that mean next to nothing - refighting the 30-year-old Vietnam War or doing something tacky like sending a disabled veteran to the president's home in Texas to deliver a message he got got days ago, really suggests that they think the voters must be idiots who can't cope with real issues.
But let's assume that this is not what they think.
Whether or not John Kerry got a Purple Heart for a minor wound, or whether or not George W. Bush went into the Air National Guard to avoid combat in Vietnam, has little if any relevance now. What the candidates should be doing now is to tell us what they think the major issues are, in their order of priorities, and how they intend to address these concerns.
Once they do that, then the voters can reasonably choose the candidate they believe is best for the job.
But time is growing short. Bush and Kerry must attend to those issues confronting us now. Some of the more pressing issues include:
• What is the best outcome we can expect in the Iraq war, and how can the United States most effectively achieve that end and then get out with the fewest possible losses? We've lost about a thousand soldiers so far. Is it time to have an exit strategy worked out?
• Is the U.S. role to be the world's policeman? Or, would it be a wise move to re-establish ties with countries that apparently think we've developed a John Wayne complex? Is there a reasonable middle ground we on which we should be standing - providing strength when necessary while taking into consideration how we can respond to crises without tromping on our allies' toes?
• How can we best address the problem of Islamic terrorism? What is the fastest and most efficient way we can devise to analyze intelligence data to detect and stop attacks? (Hint: the 9/11 Commission's recommendations are a good place to start.)
• How can we best address the problem of immigration? How and to what degree should the United States restrict entry to potential new citizens, students or visitors?
The list goes on and on. Improving public education. Addressing problems of health care. Tax code changes. Social Security issues Entitlement programs, prison system woes, church and state questions. Jobs and the economy. A huge growing national debt. All are important, and all cry out for attention.
These are the problems facing America. To avoid them by substituting smoke-and- mirror issues shortchanges the electorate.
Amen, everyone was heard to say, and hear hear to the message and the messenger. The problem is, Bush has been gaining on the battle that some would argue Kerry began, and thus Bush will would ask, why should he cease and desist going with a winning strategy.
How did Kerry begin it? It could be argued he did so in a two-step maneuver. First, on February 8 of this year he questioned President's Bush's military-service record by saying:
"The issue here, as I have heard it raised, is was he present and active on duty in Alabama at the times he was supposed to be. . . . Just because you get an honorable discharge does not in fact answer that question."
And then after having first questioned Bush's war service, at the convention Kerry made his Vietnam service an important part of his campaign.
Will Bush cease and desist? Of course he won't. This week will get him going even stronger, as it is time for him and the GOP to be front and center rather than Kerry and the Demo's.
Any solution? The big bucks Kerry is spending ought to produce something, and such big bucks should have produced someone who was not afraid to tell the emperor he would be exposed as naked if he fell into Bush's trap and said "Yes" after having had an extended period of time to formulate an answer (if he even wanted to answer at all, that is, why let Bush set the election's agenda).
Someone ought to have been willing to say, fire me if you want to Senator, but if you say what you say you are going to say, you risk losing this election. You risk exposing America to four more years of Bush and Cheney. You Sir, are wrong, and a damn fool if you say "Yes," no disrespect intended Sir.
Well, it didn't happen, and thus we must make the best of what we have.
The solution: A rule in politics is that anyone who picks a fight ought to be prepared to finish it. Because of something Kerry said over 30 years ago, he has picked a fight he cannot completely win, in my opinion, because of something he said during his Congressional testimony in 1972.
Any thoughts over the next day or so before writing my own will be duly noted, but the title of this post is a hint to my suggestion of the only thing Kerry can do at this point to put Vietnam behind him and move on.
Kerry needs to eat some crow and apologize about saying, years ago (1972) as a youth, something he didn't really mean and he knows now and knew then was and is not true.
Saying it was a disservice to all who have served this great country, and with this said, Kerry stands behind his record, and is moving on. With this behind him, Bush will attack Kerry's volunteering for duty and his service in Vietnam at his peril.