FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

You Can’t Blame Nader for This

by ALEXANDER COCKBURN

Let’s hedge this with all the usual qualifiers. Kerry could pull it out. The spread’s within the margin of error. Respondents to polls are lying out of fear of John Ashcroft. Pollsters aren’t reaching Kerrycrats with cell phones. But whatever way you cut it, after three debates in which polls assessed him as the victor, most polls say Kerry is lagging. As of now (October 20), the spread mostly ranges from an eight-point Bush lead to a dead heat. Worse, from Kerry’s point of view, some postdebate numbers show him dropping among low-income workers and urban voters, once the lifeblood of the Democratic Party. Margins in crucial states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida are razor-thin.

Why? Has a candidate or a party ever been more pleasantly caressed by the winds of history in an election year than John Kerry and the Democrats? A majority of Americans don’t think Bush has done a particularly good job, and they’ve thought this for months, though more of them like Bush than like Kerry.

On Bush’s watch the economy has performed poorly, and people are scared it will soon get worse. Headlines have blared the news: Real wages have fallen across the past year. Many people who lost jobs in the recession aren’t getting them back. Under Bush the percentage of people with jobs has fallen by 2 percent, which translates into 4.5 million people. Middle-class income is falling. More are in poverty than ever before. The budget deficit is more than 40 percent of federal revenues, excluding funds ultimately committed to Social Security and Medicare.

Bush and his closest associates have been directly identified in almost all major mass media as perpetrators of one of the most colossal deceits in the history of propaganda, the concoction of Saddam’s nonexistent WMDs as the pretext for attacking Iraq last year. Could any candidate have hoped for an October thunderclap as sonorous as that sounded by Charles Duelfer of the government’s own Iraq Survey Group, that when the United States launched its attack Iraq did not possess weapons of mass destruction and had long since abandoned programs to produce them?

The war on Iraq itself is unpopular. It has carried other well-publicized scandals in its slipstream: the Plame investigation into the White House’s outing of the identity of a CIA officer; the devastation to America’s international stature wrought by the tortures ordered and perpetrated by Americans in Abu Ghraib and elsewhere; the Israeli spy scandal. In mid-month yet another October surprise was gifted to Kerry: a mutiny by US troops in Iraq, publicly accusing the Army of ordering them to risk death without adequate equipment.

So history has dealt Kerry all the high cards, save the one that bears his own face (against the scenic background of a billionaire wife and six houses). This card still lies on Bush’s side of the table.

Only two men in US history have gone directly from the Senate to the White House, Warren Harding in 1920 and John F. Kennedy in the squeaker of 1960. This year the Democrats put two senators on the ticket, thereby burdening it with the deficits of incumbency endured by Bush. Few weapons in Bush’s sparse armory in the debates were as effective as his riposte to Kerry’s innumerable, pledge-laden plans for healthcare: “He’s been in the United States Senate twenty years. Show me one accomplishment toward Medicare that he accomplished.”

The evasions, compromises and contradictions in Kerry’s political biography are there in the record to tally, and the Bush campaign has done so, to deadly effect. Kerry is a flip-flopper, and his votes show it. His leaps back and forth over the fence on the issue of the war across the past months have only compounded this career record. With the splendid gift of the fake WMDs placed before him, he has been incapable of unwrapping it. Worse, in early August he proclaimed that most likely he too, even if he had known the WMD threat to be bogus, would have authorized an attack on Iraq.

With the Bush Administration’s overall record, particularly on the economic front, as poor as it is, one might have reckoned with near certainty that a hefty exchange of seats in the House, and even a handful in the Senate, would see a turnover of control from Republicans, with consequent splitting of power and a renaissance of vital important checks on the perils of a Bush second term.

But the Democrats have continued the disastrous displacement, familiar in Clinton-time, of resources away from winning back the Congress. To recapture the House the Democrats need to win twelve Republican-held districts. Overall, only sixteen Republican districts are in serious contention. Of these, two are rated as slimly tilting toward the Democrats, fourteen are tossups. In other words, recapture is a long shot. The Democrats have a slightly better chance in the Senate.

We are now witnessing the Democratic Party in very advanced decay. After the Clinton/DLC years, its street cred is conclusively shot. In formal political function the party is nothing much more than an ATM machine, spewing out torrents of cash, supplied by the unions and by corporations seeking favors, to the armies of consultants and operators who have lived off it for decades. Its right wing comprises people who could as easily be in the Republican Party, its center people incapable of standing on any principle. Its left, this season, is made up of the Anybody But Bush crowd, who last spring made the decision to let Kerry be Kerry, without a word of criticism, when he pledged a better war on Iraq and even a march on Tehran.

And if, against most current indications, Kerry wins? He has proffered almost nothing to look forward to, aside from a pledge, which can easily be aborted by a “crisis,” to leave Social Security alone. With the Congress against him, he’ll be mostly hogtied domestically. On the foreign front he’s eagerly hogtied himself. No more compliant serf to the imperatives of Empire and to the government of Israel than Kerry has been visible this season.
A November 3 movement, to pressure Kerry if he wins, rebuild if he loses? Many on the left have argued that. But how will they know which way to march, when they started this year with all the wrong maps?

 

 

Alexander Cockburn’s Guillotined! and A Colossal Wreck are available from CounterPunch.

More articles by:
July 26, 2016
Andrew Levine
Pillory Hillary Now
Kshama Sawant
A Call to Action: Walk Out from the Democratic National Convention!
Russell Mokhiber
The Rabble Rise Together Against Bernie, Barney, Elizabeth and Hillary
Jeffrey St. Clair
Don’t Cry For Me, DNC: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Angie Beeman
Why Doesn’t Middle America Trust Hillary? She Thinks She’s Better Than Us and We Know It
Paul Street
An Update on the Hate…
Fran Shor
Beyond Trump vs Clinton
Ellen Brown
Japan’s “Helicopter Money” Play: Road to Hyperinflation or Cure for Debt Deflation?
Richard W. Behan
The Banana Republic of America: Democracy Be Damned
Binoy Kampmark
Undermining Bernie Sanders: the DNC Campaign, WikiLeaks and Russia
Arun Gupta
Trickledown Revenge: the Racial Politics of Donald Trump
Sen. Bernard Sanders
What This Election is About: Speech to DNC Convention
David Swanson
DNC Now Less Popular Than Atheism
Linn Washington Jr.
‘Clintonville’ Reflects True Horror of Poverty in US
Deepak Tripathi
Britain in the Doldrums After the Brexit Vote
Louisa Willcox
Grizzly Threats: Arbitrary Lines on Political Maps
Robert J. Gould
Proactive Philanthropy: Don’t Wait, Reach Out!
Victor Grossman
Horror and Sorrow in Germany
Nyla Ali Khan
Regionalism, Ethnicity, and Trifurcation: All in the Name of National Integration
Andrew Feinberg
The Good TPP
400 US Academics
Letter to US Government Officials Concerning Recent Events in Turkey
July 25, 2016
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
As the Election Turns: Trump the Anti-Neocon, Hillary the New Darling of the Neocons
Ted Rall
Hillary’s Strategy: Snub Liberal Democrats, Move Right to Nab Anti-Trump Republicans
William K. Black
Doubling Down on Wall Street: Hillary and Tim Kaine
Russell Mokhiber
Bernie Delegates Take on Bernie Sanders
Quincy Saul
Resurgent Mexico
Andy Thayer
Letter to a Bernie Activist
Patrick Cockburn
Erdogan is Strengthened by the Failed Coup, But Turkey is the Loser
Robert Fisk
The Hypocrisies of Terror Talk
Lee Hall
Purloined Platitudes and Bipartisan Bunk: An Adjunct’s View
Binoy Kampmark
The Futility of Collective Punishment: Russia, Doping and WADA
Nozomi Hayase
Cryptography as Democratic Weapon Against Demagoguery
Cesar Chelala
The Real Donald Trump
Julian Vigo
The UK’s Propaganda Machinery and State Surveillance of Muslim Children
Denis Conroy
Australia: Election Time Blues for Clones
Marjorie Cohn
Killing With Robots Increases Militarization of Police
David Swanson
RNC War Party, DNC War Makers
Eugene Schulman
The US Role in the Israeli-Palestine Conflict
Nauman Sadiq
Imran Khan’s Faustian Bargain
Peter Breschard
Kaine the Weepy Executioner
Weekend Edition
July 22, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Good as Goldman: Hillary and Wall Street
Joseph E. Lowndes
From Silent Majority to White-Hot Rage: Observations from Cleveland
Paul Street
Political Correctness: Handle with Care
Richard Moser
Actions Express Priorities: 40 Years of Failed Lesser Evil Voting
Eric Draitser
Hillary and Tim Kaine: a Match Made on Wall Street
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail