When the drooling, tentacled Rigelian Kang and his sister, Kodos, ran for president on “The Simpsons,” Kang observed how easy it was to fool the Earth voters.
“All they want are bland pleasantries embellished by the occasional saxophone solo or infant kiss,” Kang said.
How far is this from the truth?
Well, both candidates are big on telling us what to think about the state of the country. Bush, naturally, has to convince us that life is good. Kerry has to allow us to think that life is bad. Who has the tougher job? Perhaps it is Bush because he must also add that we must also be afraid of terrorism — but life in general is still pretty good.
Neither candidate, though, has been able to admit a simple truth to us.
No one will say that the war on terrorism will not be won next week. Nor will it be won the day after either candidate’s inauguration. The war on terrorism will continue long after we are dead. If anyone in American politics is honest and thinks we could handle such a hard truth, they would admit it, but they refuse to treat us like adults and level with us.
For another example, we have loons such as Sen. Zell Miller telling the country that John Kerry, as president, would have our troops fighting wars with spitballs.
Does he believe the words that are coming out of his mouth? When Hardball host Chris Matthews asked Miller the same question, the Democrat-in-name-only got flustered. As the interview wound on, Miller challenged Matthews to a duel. Miller was apparently galled at the idea of a journalist who hosts a show called “Hardball” asking an intelligent question. Damn the Fourth Estate.
Even before the outburst from Miller we had the Bush twins and the Kerry daughters on the MTV Video Music Awards. At least they could agree on one thing: Voting is, like, totally important and stuff.
Meanwhile, Bush is telling us that he is different from Kerry because the latter wants to raise your taxes. In reality, most financial analysts believe that taxes will have to be raised in 2005 no matter who takes office. Thanks to Bush’s “Invest in Billionaires” plan, we’re all going to get screwed whether the president is named George or John — or even Ralph.
Kerry, on the other hand, is saying he’ll be a better president than Bush because of what he did 35 years ago. John, we’re sold. We know you were a war hero. We also know that Bush was deferred. Regardless of how we feel about those two things, what are you going to do about all these wars we’re fighting today? Remember the one you voted for? It’s still going on. There are better reasons not to vote for Bush than the fact that he didn’t go to ‘Nam and Kerry did.
When the August job numbers came out, both candidates raced to the podiums to claim a victory. Kerry said the job numbers were too low, so people could vote for him now.
Bush said the job numbers were just right, thus confirming his suspicions that people should vote for him. This is selective reality at its finest. Here we have two men looking at the same numbers and seeing two different stories. It’s a modest gain. Is that enough? Let the voters decide.
Thanks to both campaigns, we continue to be told that what happened in Vietnam more than 35 years ago is more important than what is happening today. Never mind what is going on in Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Israel, Russia or North and South Korea. Just keep talking and thinking about Vietnam.
If there was dialogue about those other places, we might have to ask ourselves some difficult questions. I suppose in the presidential elections of 2072 we’ll be talking about why Jack Johnson didn’t go to Iraq and why John Jackson voted against weapons funding for the war in Syria. Facing these issues now? That’s crazy talk. Why talk about issues at all when you can talk about who would make a better first lady? How about which candidate has the cuter dog? What beer does Bush like or who makes Kerry’s neckties? Boxers or briefs?
What’s healthcare coverage or tort reform compared to these hot-button issues? These are what Americans really want to know.
We must be used to being patronized. Keep in mind, though, politicians only do these things because they think they work.
They wouldn’t attempt to distract us with meaningless quips or attack their opponents with equally meaningless barbs if they didn’t think we were paying attention to them. Ignore the meaningless crap and base your vote (or your silence) on what matters to you.
Jeff Postelwait, Daily O’Collegian, Oklahoma State University.