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If Why this Fourth might be better than last year's
by Bryan Zepp Jamieson
Zepp's Commentaries
July 4, 2004

Last summer, I totally blew off the Fourth of July on the grounds that there was nothing to celebrate. I went back to see if I even wrote an essay about it, and discovered that while I did write an essay on the Fourth, it was about President Fustercluck's bray to the people of Iraq to "bring them on!"

It was a discouraging time. While it was clear to anyone who was paying close attention that Iraq was a complete fiasco, the American people didn't seem to know or accept this, and support for the war remained strong. It was considered a given that Putsch would raise over $200 million for the campaign and just blow whoever the Democratic candidate was right out of the water. The neo-cons, still riding high, were talking about attacking Iran and Syria, and the administration was broadly hinting that it would start punishing its political foes for being political foes.

It left me wondering if the people setting off fireworks and having barbeques and the like were celebrating the birthday of a corpse.

I hadn't given up entirely. On that weekend, I wrote a piece called "The Invincible Balloon," and in it, I said: "The captive media has been making a big thing lately about Putsch's popularity, and the huge amounts of money that he has gathered. To hear the babble from happy radio commentators and dispirited Democrats, Putsch's reelection is a Œsure thing' and the possibility of a liberal or moderate getting the Democratic nomination is dead in the water. It's a pervasive message, one repeated by hundreds of right wing radio talk show hosts and written by hundreds of right wing newspaper pundits and passed out among the vast right wing grapevine in the corporations and the churches. The only problem is that it is sheer puffery."

Of course it was, but the bugger factor was whether the voters would figure that out in the next 15 months or not.

Turns out that they have, in large numbers. Putsch's approval ratings have plummeted to 42% and figure to drop further as more and more people see "Fahrenheit 9/11" (the gross is presently $50 million and will easily break $100 million). Eighty percent of voters don't believe Putsch was being straight with America about why we attacked Iraq. And while the polls show Kerry and Putsch neck and neck, these same polls fail to account for the six or seven percent Nader gets. Since Nader only got 2.3% last year, and will be doing good to get one fifth of that this time, I assume the polls are getting bad data.

IF we have an honest election.

IF the voters realize that GOP propaganda about how good jobs are coming is pure horse manure. We have eight million more people who need jobs than we had in 2001. That the government only counts 1.6 million of them is irrelevant.

IF the Democrats don't sell out the left in their urge to become one with the political center. You cannot lead from the political middle, a group which consists of the easily led. If Democrats start forsaking liberal values, and exchange leadership for marketing, they will lose, because Republicans, vile as they are, at least take bold stands, and convince the middle to move in their direction, rather than becoming one with the Olive Oyl voters.

IF we don't have an "October surprise" -- one top intelligence officer told the press that he felt terrorists might stage a Spanish-style terrorist attack in hopes of getting Putsch re-elected, since Putsch has done so much for al Qaida.

IF the treasonous thieving bastards who own the electronic voting machines don't simply steal a lot of votes everywhere touch-screen paperless machines are used.

IF the election isn't close enough for the Republicans to steal.

IF Kerry doesn't turn into Hubert Humphrey. Folks old enough to remember the 1968 election will remember the Hump. He was a party stalwart (the vice president, in fact) who staged a come-from-behind nomination against two insurgent candidacies, from Eugene McCarthy and the assassinated Bobby Kennedy.

Hump was in a bind. He knew that most of the people in his party opposed the war in Vietnam -- hell, he had watched the war destroy Lyndon Johnson's presidency. He knew Democratic voters, unlike their Republican counterparts, wouldn't blindly vote for party over everything, especially Vietnam. But LBJ had made it clear that if he wanted LBJ's support and resources, he had better keep his yap shut about the war and not take any position that might suggest he opposed Lyndon's policies.

So Hump was missing in action on the issue that matter most to a majority of voters and a big majority of his own constituency.

He was running against Richard Nixon, who took a real simple approach to the issue: he simply lied to the voters. "I have a secret plan to end the war in Vietnam," Nixon intoned, promising something called "Peace with honor."

Anyone care to guess what might have happened if Humphrey had come out and promised to bring the troops home ASAP along about October, 1968? We would never have heard of George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, William Safire, G. Gordon Liddy, or all the rest of the poisonous Nixon legacy. Watergate would be just another Washington hotel, and thousands of Americans and millions of Vietnamese would be leading happy and productive lives today.

Kerry is MIA on Iraq, and it's eroding his support among what otherwise would be his strongest supporters. Nobody is quite sure why he is being so reticent about taking a stand of any sort beyond "support the troops" and keeping them there indefinitely. But it's hurting him.

There's a growing consensus that Iraq was a terrible mistake from the get-go. The press, which failed miserably to avert the quagmire in the first place, is now condemning it, too late to regain any squandered credibility for themselves, but in a belated attempt to "bring people the news" that the media thinks is best for the ratings.

Kerry has every opportunity to win this election. But if he subsides into the role played by far too many Democrats of "me too, only nicer," he stands to blow that opportunity.

IF he leads, rather than follows, he will win.

That single action makes all the earlier Ifs moot.

Topplebush.com
Posted: July 6, 2004

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