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Not Even a Dime’s Worth of Difference

by ALEXANDER COCKBURN

Kerry goes from bad to worse. Last week he dropped Saddam’s non-existent WMDs as a campaign issue. He did this huge favor to Bush via his (Kerry’s) foreign affairs spokesman, the insufferable Jamie Rubin, formerly the top State Department flack in the Clinton years. Rubin told the Washington Post last weekend that knowing then what he knows today about the lack of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Kerry still would have voted to authorize the war and “in all probability” would have launched a military attack to oust Hussein by now if he were president. Up until the previous day Mr flip-flop O’Kerry had said he only “might” have still gone to war.

Then on Monday Kerry did some further clarifying in Arizona where he told the press he would not have changed his vote to authorize the war against Iraq, although he would have handled things “very differently” from President Bush. Kerry said the congressional resolution gave Bush “the right authority for the president
to have.” (Since Kerry voted for that resolution, what else could he say?)
But,Kerry went on, (as reported by CNN) “I would have done this very differently from the way President Bush has.”

After this blather, Kerry proclaimed that “There are four real questions that matter to Americans, and I hope you’ll get the answers to those questions because the American people deserve them.

“My question to President Bush is why did he rush to war without a plan to win the peace? Why did he rush to war on faulty intelligence and not do the hard work [what “hard work”?] necessary to give America the truth?
Why did he mislead America about how he would go to war? [What does this mean?] Why has he not brought other countries to the table in order to support American troops in the way that we deserve it and relieve a pressure from the American people?”

In other words, absolutely nothing separates Kerry from Bush’s positions on Iraq except he claims he would have lied more efficiently and somehow wheedled the UN and NATO into giving support. This business about getting the Allies on board, you may recall, was Howard Dean’s posture back in the spring.

So Bush, a lousy president but ludicrously over-demonized, is bracketed by a Democratic candidate, Al Gore, who was calling for immediate war on Saddam back in 1999, flanked by all the neo-Cons who subsequently flocked to Bush, and by Kerry who now says he holds exactly the same position, rationalized by the same neo-Cons.

If the war on Iraq bothers you, a vote for Kerry is a vote thrown away.

How about the plight of ordinary working people? No succor in sight from Kerry here either. Here we may as well state the obvious. As a political force on the national stage organized labor, manifested in the big unions in the AFL-CIO, is dead. It’s over. As a fraction of the work force non-government union membership is now down to 11 per cent of the work force, and that number is sinking by a digit a year.

Back in 1992 labor did have some input into Clinton’s campaign with its pledges about “putting people first”. Clinton repaid labor’s “get out the vote” efforts and money by selling out on health reform and by failing to do anything on labor law or in any way bettering the condition of ordinary working Americans and the very poor. Unless labor laws change, organized labor has bleak prospects.

Here we are in 2004 and labor hasn’t managed to elicit a single significant pledge from Kerry. His only concern is Wall Street and the bankers. Back in April he said he would make the deficit his prime concern, which means goodbye to any decent jobs program. So big labor’s sole significant political function is to try to enforce discipline on their members to vote for Kerry. That’s the essential story, just another mile-marker in the decline of labor since the late 1960s. Kerry’s not going to do anything to arrest that decline.

The Empty Sinkyone

Almost a year ago the editor of the AVA and I hiked down the 16 miles of the Sinkyone Wilderness. In the intervening months much has changed. Editor Anderson has removed to Eugene, Oregon, where he escorts the loyal Roscoe (a dog, I hasten to say to a Eugene press already baying at Bruce’s heels) demurely along the bike paths of that city.

For my money ($30 for two nights) the Sinkyone is the most beautiful hike in California. I went back there this last weekend and in the course of a hike down to Wheeler, the abandoned (then destroyed) G-P settlement, half way down the Wilderness coast line, we encountered no one. No one on the way back either. Sari Anderson, formerly of Ukiah, now of Wisconsin, had just settled into the visitor center for a 2-month volunteer’s stint and said this had been a very slow summer, suggesting that maybe costlier airfares had kept people away.

“Nonsense, Sari,” I said. “Americans have got too fat to hike.” Across the past three years it’s become obvious that most park or wilderness spaces have been abandoned to bears, lions and coyotes. The elk in the Sinkyone were amazed to see a passer-by. No one had picked the blackberries or the watercress in the parking area. We had delicious stewed blackberries-and-apple and steel cut oats on Monday morning, watching a couple of weary refugees from Reggae on the River slowly emerge from their tent. If we called the dish “compote of pink pearl and gravenstein apples and hand-gathered Sinkyone blackberries with avena integral, drizzled with sel de garonne and cane sugar” we probably could have sold it to all comers for $23.50, with a cup of Goldrush Panama hard bean to wash it down.

Dime’s Worth of Difference: Beyond the Lesser of Two Evils, by ALEXANDER COCKBURN and Jeffrey St Clair is out this month. Order online or call 1-800-840-3681.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His new book is Killing Trayvons: an Anthology of American Violence (with JoAnn Wypijewski and Kevin Alexander Gray). He can be reached at: sitka@comcast.net. Alexander Cockburn’s Guillotined! and A Colossal Wreck are available from CounterPunch.

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