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Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Swiftboat Socialist

Bill Van Auken is the Socialist Equality Party's presidential candidate. Today he writes about the ridiculous swiftboat battle currently going on in the Mekong of American politics, and correctly puts the blame where it belongs: On Republicans and Democrats.
Kerry’s situation begins to resemble the old slapstick comedy routine in which the hapless hero is hit by the swinging door both coming and going. After first goading him into a defensive position on his military record in Vietnam, Kerry’s attackers now raise the obvious question: “Why is he claiming to be a hero in a war he denounced as a crime?”

For this, the Kerry campaign has no answer, because it is founded on a deliberate and monumental lie. In selling Kerry as a commander-in-chief, the Democrats have sought to rehabilitate the Vietnam War, portraying it as a noble struggle to defend America and democracy.

This war, which claimed the lives of millions of Vietnamese and tens of thousands of American youth, was widely recognized as the criminal colonialist enterprise that Kerry branded it at the time. Millions, both in the US and internationally, took to the streets to demand an end to the US intervention, and anti-war sentiments were widespread within the Democratic Party itself, from the debacle of the 1968 convention through to the final withdrawal from Vietnam nearly seven years later.
The Kerry camp is doubly vulnerable to the present smear campaign because it cannot answer back by stating the obvious: the Bush camp’s lies about the Democratic nominee’s military record are being used as a smokescreen to obscure the ongoing debacle in Iraq.

There are those in the "anybody but Bush" camp who still reassure themselves with the belief that the Democrats' pro-war policy is merely a campaign ploy, a regrettable but necessary tactic to win votes from the Republicans. Once the election is over, according to these self-deluded elements, Kerry will be free to show his true liberal colors.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Kerry’s embrace of the Iraq war, just as his attempt to rehabilitate the intervention in Vietnam, is an accurate barometer of the continuous lurch to the right by the Democrats over a whole historical period.
I wish I could come to some sort of terms with Kerry, find some redeeming social value so I could vote for him instead of just against Bush. He's at a disadvantage, probably, since my initial major impression of Kerry, from last year's first debate, was quite negative. Unlike Edwards, whom I liked immediately, I found Kerry to be pompous and dull. (He is, isn't he?) And I rarely if ever have heard Kerry say something that I could unequivocally agree with--again, unlike Edwards. My feeling now is that Kerry has been running for president since before he volunteered for Vietnam. His service there and his anti-war activities afterwards were both a part of chasing that goal. Doonesbury no longer offers its entire archive online like it did a couple of archives--I'd love to dig up the cartoon(s?) from the early '70's which had Kerry in them. Garry Trudeau certainly recognized then that Kerry was a politician out making a name for himself. Too bad Trudeau now has his main character's daughter engaged in search-and-destroy missions chasing Nader voters. In this one, she's just trying to stop a Nader supporter from voting:

What's with that? Even if you actually believe that a vote for Nader is a vote for Bush (which it most definitely isn't--check the vote counts), doesn't not voting have the same effect?

I realize that what a character does doesn't necessarily reflect the cartoonist's feelings, and there is an element of poking fun at the Nader-haters. But just as Kerry should be focusing on the crimes of Bush in Iraq rather than his own Vietnam experiences, shouldn't Kerry supporters be working on Kerry to find ways to appeal to Naderites, rather than endlessly bashing them and their candidate?

The two-party system: repressing democracy for 200 years.