In every race for the White House you can always expect lies, damn lies and statistics. So, we should all be a little skeptical about polls that show the president still commanding a 50% approval rating. There is no doubting the existence of significant hard core Bush constituencies, especially in the evangelical community. But the notion that every other American supports the President is a mass media delusion. Being a natural born cynic, I decided to go looking for those Americans who still believe in the wisdom and character of our commander in chief.
In a six-week road trip from Seattle to Cabo San Lucas, I had plenty of time to conduct a random poll of all gas station attendants along the way. The results of this unscientific survey reveals that Bush isn’t getting a single vote at the pump – on account of the war and a minimum wage that hasn’t gone up a dime since he took office.
During the trip, I also connected with a few used car salesmen – just in case the old beater decided to drop dead in the middle of the Mexican desert. One of them – a native of Alabama with a Southern twang – was particularly hostile to the CEO of the Republic. While pitching me a deal on the Oregon coast, he went on and on about how Bush was a religious fanatic. So, it looks like Bush will have trouble with his southern strategy.
Outside Tillamouk, Oregon, I had lunch with a ninety-year-old guy whose folks came across the Oregon Trail in a covered wagon. His uncle had died from a hostile native arrow during the family’s trek from Wisconsin. We were sitting at a McDonalds and he started a little chat about the gorgeous weather and then invited me to share his table. We got to talking about how the Oregon coast had changed so much over the last three decades and eventually got to the war. Mind you, this old retired lumberjack was no left coast peacenik. He still lamented the fact that he couldn’t join the army in World War II because his skills were needed in the lumber mills. Unlike the president, he still reads the morning papers. And he doesn’t approve of George’s conduct of the war. Count this old timer’s vote against the leader of the free world.
Further down the coast, a whole bunch of people professed allegiance to the ABB movement -” Anybody But Bush. The ABB crowd included a wide range of folks from Stamford professors to Bay area computer geeks to Santa Cruz surfers to a millionaire matron in Santa Barbara to campers enjoying a weekend at Big Sur. California is definitely not Bush country.
As I entered Ensenada, a huge ‘no war’ flag hovered over the city. This led me to conclude that Bush can’t even count on the ex-pat vote in Baja California.
On the one year anniversary of the ‘end of major hostilities’, huge peace demonstrations were held in every major American city, including Seattle. The Anti-Bush tone of those rallies was unmistakable. Of course, The media didn’t give them much coverage. Their camera crews were too busy looking for pro-war rallies. When their futile search ended, they decided to take a pass on the predictable anti-war hordes.
We seem to have a president who takes pride that the catastrophic terrorist attacks on 9/11 happened on his watch. A man who dodged front line duty in Vietnam had the gall to challenge the Iraqi insurgents to ‘bring it on’. It was about the only thing Bush could get the Iraqis to agree on. The search for Bin Laden was terminated in favor of an expensive hunt for non-existent WMD stockpiles. Ordinary people actually take notice of these things.
A group of young marine just returned from a year’s service in Iraq expressed disgust at Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz and made it clear that the “Iraqis don’t want us over there”. If they bother to vote, it won’t be for Wolfie’s party.
I read in a local Santa Cruz paper that a senior Republican Senator, Chuck Hagel, says he hasn’t met Bush in two years. He asserted that the President is hostage to ‘two or three key advisers’. We want names. Is it Condi and Cheney? Or Cheney and Rummy? Or Condi and George’s imaginary friend? Or Wolfie and Captain ‘WMD’ in the West Wing kitchen with the Likudnik ax?
In any case, it seems like even Chuck’s vote is up in the air.
So, how did the Democratic convention in Boston respond to this outpouring of anti-war sentiment in the country? Well, by endorsing the war. Kerry says that he too would have marched to Baghdad but with a different battle plan. Edwards declared that we must ‘win the war’. There is no winning this war -” only degrees of losing. The Democrats spent four long days in Boston posing as just another Republican party with an alternative conservative agenda. They obviously intend to escalate the failed venture in Iraq. More American troops. More allied troops. Getting tougher with the insurgency. Sounds like a plan or at least a good campaign slogan. “Make more war for more peace.”
While America pines for a real peace hero, Kerry is out to prove his credentials as a war hero -” a soldier who in sworn testimony before Congress admitted to participating in war crimes during his four-month service in the Mekong Delta. Even though the 9/11 commission found that our pro-Likudnik foreign policy motivated the assault on the twin towers, the Democratic candidate shamefully prostrates in public before Ariel ‘Qibya’ Sharon. That should cool things down in the Middle East and touch a whole bunch of hearts and minds.
What we have here is a race for the highest office in the land between two warmongers, Bush and Kerry. In Boston, no mention was made of the neo-conservatives, the Office of Special Plans’ role in corrupting intelligence or the complicity of mass media titans like the New York Times and FOX in whipping up war fever. The missing WMDs were not an issue and no one made a fuss about Halliburton or Wolfie the Liberator’s Likudnik agenda.
Fortunately, a third candidate has emerged who unequivocally calls for an end to the Iraqi quagmire. Yes, Virginia, there is a peace candidate. His name is Ralph Nader. The big question is how many Americans will actually cast a ballot in line with their sentiments and vote for peace?
No doubt a lot of folks will hold their nose and vote for Kerry. For good reasons, there is real paranoia in the land about Bush emerging as an unrestrained second term president with a mandate to wreak more havoc across the planet. Even so, many courageous citizens will make a simpler choice and just vote for the peace candidate. When the moment of truth arrives, they may very well opt to hold Kerry’s nose and vote for Nader.