On Native Ground
HOW SOON IS NOW?
by Randolph T. Holhut
American Reporter Correspondent
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- Will someone please tell Sen. John Kerry and President Bush what year it is?
There has been altogether too much talk about the Vietnam War and not enough talk about our current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan or what constructive steps are needed to prevent another terror attack from taking place on American soil.
Too much time is being spent dwelling on past issues, and not enough time on dealing with the present and the future. That's why most political observers are agreement that we are in the midst of the stupidest presidential campaign ever.
I thought 1988 set the standard for stupidity, with an election whose key issues were flag burning, the Pledge of Allegiance, whether membership in the American Civil Liberties Union was a bad thing and the grainy image of a black convicted rapist and murderer named Willie Horton.
Many of the same people who ran George H.W. Bush's campaign against Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis are running President George W. Bush's 2004 campaign. The ghost of the late Lee Atwater, the GOP political operative who said his strategy in the 1988 campaign was to "rip the bark off the little bastard," hangs heavily over the 2004 race, which has been dominated by attack ads and negative campaigning.
It has gotten to the point that stances on the issues or overall competency no longer matters. As journalist Robert Parry wrote a couple of weeks ago, this election "has become a test of whether reality still means anything to the American people, whether this country has moved to essentially a new form of government in which one side is free to lie about everything while a paid 'amen corner' of ideological media drowns out any serious public debate."
Think of the things that haven't been talked about in any great detail on the campaign trail:
We should be hearing more about all of these things. Instead, the campaign is dominated by nonsense about a war that ended three decades ago and who served and who didn't.
Then there is the biggest elephant in the room, namely the accumulation of evidence that the Bush administration ignored the threat of terrorism until the 9/11 attacks, and seized upon them to rush the nation into a war with Iraq.
The fact that no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq, no connections between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden ever existed and the invasion of Iraq has created more terrorists and destroyed whatever moral standing and leadership the U.S. once had in the world should be Topic A in any rational discussion of this campaign. We need more talk about the present war that is killing our young men and women and draining our nation's finances, and less talk about who did what when in Vietnam.
The most discouraging thing about this campaign is that, once again, the Republicans are setting the agenda. They lie with impunity and smear without consequence. Most reporters from the corporate press are too afraid to take them on for fear of being called liberal.
To allow the Bush campaign to dwell on the past and allow the Republican Slime Machine to do its dirty work is to insure four more years of Bush. If we are to bring this election back into the present, we must vigorously refute the lies and bring up the uncomfortable (to Republicans) truths at every opportunity.
Additionally, it's time for Kerry to stop dwelling on Vietnam and focus on Iraq. He must clearly delineate the failures of the Bush administration and offer a clear proposal for the eventual withdrawal of U.S. troops.
To fail at these tasks will conclusively prove to the world that we are living in a post-literate, post-logical society where truth and reason no longer matter.
Randolph T. Holhut has been a journalist in New England for more than 20 years. He edited "The George Seldes Reader" (Barricade Books). He can be reached at email@example.com.