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Monday, August 02, 2004

A river in Egypt

Bob Herbert says that Americans don't want to hear the truth--but not to worry, because neither Bush nor Kerry will mention it:
The facts facing the United States as George W. Bush and John Kerry joust for the presidency are too grim to be honestly discussed on the stump. No one wants to tell cheering potential voters that the nation has sunk so deep into a hole that it will take decades to extricate it. So the candidates are trying to outdo one another in expressions of sunny optimism.
Consider Iraq. Neither the president nor Mr. Kerry knows what to do about this terrible misadventure that has cost more than 900 American and thousands of innocent Iraqi lives. The war is draining the U.S. Treasury and has made the Middle East more, not less, unstable. Dreams of democracy taking root in the garden of Baghdad and then spreading like the flowers of spring throughout the Middle East have given way to the awful reality of bombings, kidnappings and beheadings.
Unfortunately, we've become a society addicted to the fantasy of a quick fix. We want our solutions encompassed in a sound bite. We want our leaders to manipulate reality to our liking.

So there was President Bush in a hard-hit industrial region of Ohio over the weekend telling voters, "The economy is strong and it's getting stronger." And the Kerry-Edwards team is assuring one and all that "help is on the way."

The voters may deserve better, but there's a real question about whether they want better. It may well be that candidates can't tell voters the truth and still win. If that's so, then democracy American-style may be a lot more dysfunctional than even the last four years has indicated.