Sunday, September 11, 2005

Pathetic Democrats

Bush's approval ratings are in the toilet. In hypothetical match-ups between Bush and past presidents, Bush would lose to every recent president--but he'd still beat John Kerry. You know, the guy who many Democrats didn't particularly care for but figured was the most "electable" of the bunch, and so selected as their candidate.

Would Lose to Every President Since Carter

Bush 44 Clinton 46

Bush 34 Bush, Sr. 41

Bush 20 Reagan 59

Bush 42 Carter 50

Bush 48 Kerry 47

Way to go, Dems!

Perhaps the saddest thing about last year's election campaign was the way the American peace movement was co-opted into working their butts off to elect a pro-war candidate who shared precious few of their concerns and goals, but was considered to be a shade less awful than Bush. Oh, and because he was "electable," of course. Kerry's failure to get himself elected, running against the worst president ever, sent the movement tailpsinning into a demoralized, impotent funk from which it has only recently recovered, thanks largely to Cindy Sheehan's initiative in camping out on Bush's Crawford doorstep.

Unlike many of my American acquaintances, I never could bring myself to support Kerry. Below is a commentary I wrote shortly before the November presidential election (Slovene version available here):

ABBA. Is this really the best we can do?

[commentary for Radio Student Ljubljana, Terminal, aired October 21, 2004]

For the past year or so ABBA has stopped being a Swedish rock group and become an American political party. It stands for “Anyone but Bush again,” and it’s the party that all right-thinking Americans are expected to belong to.

So I’m casting my absentee ballot for John Kerry, right? Actually, no. I don’t like John Kerry. He and I agree on very little. Kerry is militantly, fervently, uncritically pro-Israel, no matter what that country does to the Palestinians. I think what Israel is doing to the Palestinians—with the active support of American politicians like Kerry—is unconscionable and inexcusable. Kerry thought Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero’s decision to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq showed a failure of resolve and represented a victory for “the terrorists.” I was thrilled by Zapatero’s election, and applauded his principled decision to stop Spain’s participation in a brutal and illegal occupation. Kerry supports U.S.-instigated regime change in oil-rich Venezuela. I happen to side with Hugo Chavez in his struggle against the wealthy elites in his own country and that bullying, meddlesome superpower up north.

More generally, Kerry subscribes to this whole “war on terror” fiction, which has replaced the now defunct Soviet threat as the rationalization for U.S. intervention around the globe. Whereas I think it’s mostly a load of crap. Kerry is more than happy to invoke this bogus threat to justify repression at home and aggression abroad, while remaining completely silent on the role America’s own policies might conceivably be playing in fueling this threat. (Hey, remember the good old days of the Cold War when Islamist terrorists were “freedom fighters”?) Kerry recently proclaimed that he “will never stop at anything to hunt down and kill the terrorists.” This includes pre-emptive war and forcible regime change, doctrines he supports. It includes flouting international law, by which he believes America should not be constrained.

Kerry, worried about being portrayed by the Republicans as an antiwar wimp, wants to make America “stronger.” This is reportedly the slogan sported by the bumper stickers and lawn signs of ABBA enthusiasts across America: “Kerry/Edwards. A stronger America.” It’s supposed to be an inspiring vision with broad voter appeal.

Well, this voter’s reaction to the “stronger America” campaign is about the same as that of Seattle writer and activist Geov Parrish, who commented:

“A stronger America? A stronger America? The last thing this country or this world needs is a stronger America. I can think of a lot of other things I'd like to see first. How about a smarter America? Or a wiser America? Heck, I'd settle for a saner America. One with more moral courage. A fairer America. More equitable. Less arrogant. Less obsessed with materialism. More just, more committed to democracy and peace, less prone to violence. I'd even settle for an America that doesn't embarrass me when I travel elsewhere in the world.”

Like Parrish, I don’t feel even remotely tempted to jump onto the Democrats’ “stronger America” bandwagon. America already has too much power, and her irresponsible use of it is a large part of the problem. Oh, and I’m sorry, this may seem like a little thing, but anyone who feels compelled to end his speeches with “God Bless America,” as Kerry obviously does, turns me off. I’d rather see Allah bless Iraq—the Iraqis deserve a bit of good fortune after all they’ve been forced to endure.

So, those of us who aren’t taken in by this mythical terrorist threat, and don’t support this bipartisan policy of blatant American supremacism backed by overwhelming military power—um, just which candidate are we supposed to vote for in this pathetic farce of a presidential race? Kerry’s major criticism of Bush on Iraq is that Bush didn’t try hard enough to bully, bribe, and blackmail more countries into going along with his invasion and occupation. Self-aggrandizing Kerry seems to think that HE will have the necessary clout, charisma, and credibility to persuade traditional U.S. allies to drop their opposition and belatedly support U.S. military adventurism. He believes in “staying the course” in Iraq and he wants to send more troops there. 40,000 more, for starters.

His big promise and major foreign policy selling point to American voters is this: he’ll make sure some of those troops aren’t American! Obviously he comes from the same school of foreign policy thinking as Senator Joe Biden, his Democratic pal on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In July of 2003, as the occupation of Iraq was going badly (though not nearly as badly as it is today), Biden declared on the Senate floor, “I don't want every kid that is blown up at a checkpoint being an American soldier…I said before this war began—and I supported this war and I voted for it and I helped shape the resolution that allowed it—if we did not internationalize this rapidly, somewhere between 2 and 10 body bags a week would come home for the indefinite future.”

So if Kerry and company win the election and have their way, America’s disastrous military adventure in Iraq—which most of these high-ranking speechifying Democratic bastards wholeheartedly endorsed at the time—will be “internationalized.” Which is to say, it will be paid for by the blood and treasure of the nations which opposed it (as well as by that of the long-suffering and unconsulted Iraqis, of course).

Personally I find this an outrageous position, but it’s one that appeals to many American voters. Because in America it’s more or less taken for granted that the loss of an American life is a much greater tragedy than the loss of a lesser, non-American mortal. This was painfully obvious last month, when everyone made a big deal out of the thousandth American soldier to die in Iraq. Never mind the tens of thousands of “liberated” Iraqis who have perished in the violence—we’ve all known from the outset that they don’t count—but apparently the sacrifices of those brave soldiers fighting side by side with the Americans don’t count for much either, because that milestone—one thousand coalition deaths—was passed back in July, and no one even remarked on it. Because it’s only American lives that matter.

Maybe I’ve lived in Europe so long I’ve become un-American, but the prospect of Slovene soldiers killing and dying in Iraq for American mistakes does not hold much appeal for me. ABBA? Thanks, but if that’s the best they can offer, I’ll pass.


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