Didn’t John Kerry ever read about rope-a-dope? Karl Rove must be kicking his heels with merriment at the way the horse-faced son of Boston is tangling himself up in the Swift Boat comedy. A couple of weeks more and I reckon Kerry will start crying on TV at the besmirchments of his war record, and it will all be over.
Are there any skins thinner than those belonging to Democratic Loyalists for Kerry? The other night Jeffrey St. Clair, who co-edits the political website and newsletter CounterPunch with yours truly, found himself to a gathering of antiwar activists in downtown Portland, Oregon, touting our new book, Dime’s Worth of Difference: Beyond the Lesser of Two Evils. There were about a hundred souls assembled, and Jeffrey’s seasoned eye assayed the political temper of the throng. Sure enough, at least a score had that fixity of gaze and tensed naso-labial musculature that betrayed the presence of Zombies for Kerry.
Jeffrey plunged into his talk, an evenhanded assault on both Bush and Kerry. First he whaled away at Bush, tracing the shameful decline of this war resister from the moral Everest of his Quaker-like refusal to spill Vietnamese blood (or his own) to his latter-day militarist posturing and use of the National Guard as a de facto draft, with the draftees press-ganged into indentured servitude by stop-loss orders, now under court challenge.
Then Jeffrey turned his spotlight on Kerry’s record in Vietnam and began to review the unpleasing record of unmerited Purple Hearts and Silver Star, plus those actions of Lieutenant Kerry that could arguably be classified as war crimes. At this point a lady of middle years, the leader of the Kerry loyalists, rose in indignation and, after a whispered and vehement colloquy with the organizer of the event, led her troops, perhaps a dozen in number, haughtily from the hall.
I’ve no way of knowing, but it’s quite possible that among those protesters were several, maybe many, who were passionately opposed to the war in Vietnam, and themselves denounced it as fifteen years of war crimes against the Vietnamese people. Yet here they were, so deeply committed to voting for Kerry that they could not even bear to hear a discussion of his conduct in Vietnam, let alone sit still for a reasoned discussion of Kerry’s pledges to keep the troops in Iraq.
The calculation in the Kerry camp is obviously that the liberal-progressive part of their base will put up with anything, and they seem to be correct in making that assumption. Last weekend one of Kerry’s aides took the opportunity, in a debate on CNN, to emphasize that Kerry supported “96 percent” of the Patriot Act and indeed wrote some of the language of the act.
Kerry announces that even if he’d known the allegations of Saddam Hussein’s WMDs were spurious, he’d have voted to authorize war on Iraq. There’s scarcely a quiver in the ABB loyalists. Kerry was backing Bush’s attack on Iraq at the same moment that Republican Representative Doug Bereuter of Nebraska (No. 2 on the House Intelligence Committee) said the attack was unjustified, while Republican Representative Jim Leach of Iowa, twenty-eight years on the Hill, was calling for the United States to get out by the end of the year.