From ABB to CYA


“Ah, that anti-Nader crowd sure has a lot to be proud of. Especially when they now rally us around all the important issues that they chose to abandon in the various strategies for anybody but the truth.”

Lloyd Marbet

So began a missive from one of the progressive lions who never wavered. It was attached to a copy of CounterPunch’s David Vest’s brilliant election post-mortem and sent around the net.

Since the election debacle, we’ve been treated to a three day whine-fest on the usual liberal Democrat websites, in the press and on the airwaves.

The cabal of “progressives” who gave us the disastrous non-strategy of Anybody But Bush (ABB) have begun their election postmortems. Jeffrey St. Clair referred to them as the political equivilent of hit and run drivers, they just go on in denial, never admitting any personal responsibility, never even acknowledging their ABB dogma, its impact or that it even mattered.

A quick check of the pro-Democrat Common Dreams website this past two days will reveal countless missives from the likes of Medea Benjamin, Katha Pollitt, Molly Ivins, Michael Moore, Katrina vanden Heuvel and others. Lots of calls, as noted above, to “rally us around all the important issues that they chose to abandon,” but nary a word is to be found analyzing the impacts of ABB.

(Now, I know there are CounterPunchers out there, editors included, who would never dream of checking in on CommonDreams, etc. But, hey, I check them all out. No worry. I’ll do the drudge work — speaking of, yeah, I regularly check Drudge. I like to see what everyone has to say. I even subscribe to TIME, US News and the Earth First! Journal.)



Benjamin was interviewed for The Progressive magazine and when asked why Kerry lost, she truthfully answered, “Kerry lost because he never provided a clear message or an inspiring vision about the direction this country should take, and because Bush’s fear-mongering, gay bashing, anti-choice rhetoric and vicious attacks on Kerry worked. Bush kept on message, while Kerry didn’t. On Iraq, Kerry criticized Bushes handling of the war, and said it was the wrong war, but insisted that he was right to vote for it. On fighting terrorism, Kerry tried to out-do Bush with his macho “hunt and kill” rhetoric, but he merely became ‘Bush-lite.’ ”

But the self-described member of “the Anti-war movement” never comments on just why Kerry ran as “Bush-lite” in the first place. She never broaches how an “anti-war movement” ended up shilling for Mr. “hunt’em down and kill ’em.” She also never mentions her pivotal role in imploding the Green Party, leading the undemocratic shenanigans that led to the invisible candidacy of David Cobb and the ridiculous rebuke of Ralph Nader and Nader supporters.

Old Farts for Kerry

Katha Pollitt writing in The Nation not only calls Kerry “a pretty good candidate” she in a backhanded way defends ABB (though not by name), questioning what she calls an “article of faith among progressives that moving to the left wins votes.”

She, like Hunter Thompson, then blames it on “young people constituted their usual pathetic proportion of the total vote. And this is after the best efforts of P Diddy, Christina Aguilera, Eminem and virtually every other pop icon except Britney Spears.” That’s a denial two-fer: fault youth AND don’t even address how such cultural elitism played into it.


The Right Reveals the “Secret”

Right-wing columnist Kathleen Parker knows better. She began her postmortem with:

“As stunned Democrats scratch the dry earth for signs and glance heavenward for clues to the strange universe that reelected George W. Bush, it seems unduly cruel to withhold what Ordinary Americans have known all along.

Herewith a few hints: Michael Moore, Bruce Springsteen, P. Diddy, Paris Hilton, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston, Barbra Streisand, Jon Bon Jovi, Uma Thurman, Kirsten Dunst, Leonardo DiCaprio, Teresa Heinz Kerry, Ron Reagan,, Dan Rather, the French – and everyone else who would be speaking German today if not for the bravery and sacrifice of Ordinary Americans who are today held in such contempt by all of the above.

It’s the elitism, mes freres.”

Again, Pollitt was a champion of ABB, one of the first. And a champion of the “cultural elites for Kerry” endeavor. Again, no mention or mea culpa.


The Faux-Flintite’s Faux Analysis

Michael Moore’s first response was [Unable to display image]to first print a list of US War Dead, no mention at all of Iraqi “excess deaths.” Then he really got going with his, childish “17 Reasons Not to Slit Your Wrists…,” including such insights as “Michigan voted for Kerry! So did the entire Northeast, the birthplace of our democracy. So did 6 of the 8 Great Lakes States. And the whole West Coast! Plus Hawaii. Ok, that’s a start. We’ve got most of the fresh water, all of Broadway, and Mt. St. Helens. We can dehydrate them or bury them in lava. And no more show tunes!”

At least Moore refrained from the Youth-bashing of Pollitt and Thompson and correctly noted, again with the puerile caveat, that “The only age group in which the majority voted for Kerry was young adults (Kerry: 54%, Bush: 44%), proving once again that your parents are always wrong and you should never listen to them.”

Again on mention of his ABB “I was for Nader, before I was against him” role or his facile drift from one warmonger (Clark) to another (Kerry) — or, of his own war profiteer complicity. I, for one, think it may well have made a difference had Moore released his footage of torture early on. But, Moore decided to hold on to them as proprietary until his movie Fahrenheit 911 hit the theaters.


Heiresses for Kerry

The super-rich publisher of The Nation, Katrina vanden Heuvel, wants us to “Stand and Fight,” something her rag, other than Alexander Cockburn, has been decrying Nader and supporters doing for well over a year now.

She touts “an emerging progressive infrastructure capable of standing and fighting.” Yet where is the evidence of that? And, how much did the ABB debacle undercut any such “infrastructure/” And, just what role did The Nation play in destroying the Greens and Nader’s considerable contribution to any such effort? Again, we have no real soul-searching on ABBiedom.
Clueless in Blue

One could go on and on. The Bottom Line is: ABB cost us the issues and the corporeal manifestation of that failed strategy lost. But, to read what the libs have to say about it, one would NEVER get any idea that a celebrity-driven, issues-vacant, republican-lite, loser pro-war candidacy was what the ABB cult produced. It was determined the first time ABB saw print.

As clueless as Kerry in his spanking new oversize Duck coat (LL Bean on the outside, Armani on the inside), these folks continue to fail to grasp that there is an America far beyond their ivory towers, far beyond the Hudson River. That America has had its fill of wealthy elitists claiming to represent “real American values.” (Sure, they’re deluded by another cabal of wealthy elitists.) But, until and unless these ABB folks drop the pretense, connect with the “red state” citizens in some meaningful way, drop the lame, two-party system of corporate control and admit their own complicity in the Democrats’ rush to the right, progressive values will continue to as they say in Red State America, “suck hind tit.”

As Sam Kennison used to shriek, “There’s a reason for it!”

MICHAEL DONNELLY of Salem, OR is a longtime forest activist. He is a contributor to CounterPunch’s new book on the 2004 elections, A Dime’s Worth of Difference. He can be reached at



MICHAEL DONNELLY has been an environmental activist since before that first Earth Day. He was in the thick of the Pacific Northwest Ancient Forest Campaign; garnering some collective victories and lamenting numerous defeats. He can be reached at