John Kerry

Tuesday, February 10, 2004


"John Kerry watches President Richard Nixon announce the cease-fire in Vietnam on January 24, 1973." - Boston Globe

Melissa Block interviewed John Kerry on NPR this afternoon, and though the interview started off a bit contentious, once they got into their groove Kerry sounded pretty good. (Listen.)

I like Kerry. He seems like a guy with a long and strong history with the United States government, from his service in Vietnam to his lengthy stay as a U.S. Senator (since 1984, though perpetually a junior, behind this institution). That’s valuable to me, because (despite all the fuss made about the importance of being a Washington outsider) I have respect for someone who knows our political system well. Edwards has served just one term in the Senate and Kucinich has been in the House since 1996. Clark has never been elected to public office. Dr. Dean has — though as the Governor of a small, relatively homogenous state (as Michael Ventura pointed out, though in Ventura’s world Dean governed New Hampshire). If a Democrat ends up in office, they will be working against a hostile House and Senate. Plenty of advance experience in this area would be valuable. Clinton wasn’t particularly succcessful navigating those waters and many of his ideas never saw the light of day.

And Kerry generally says things that play well with me — the exceptions I can think of right now being his support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2002 (though, to be fair, he was being manipulated and lied to with regard to the facts) and his wishy-washy stance on gay marriage (supporting civil unions but not marriage).

My belief is that the current reaction against homosexuality stems more from ignorance than anything else, and that in the future denying a person rights due to their sexuality will seem just as absurb and wrong as denying a person rights based on their ethnicity. But. I suspect Kerry wants to hold the middle ground on this issue, not swinging to one side or the other. And this seems okay. Some states (including Kerry’s own) have taken the initiative to be more open about different sorts of couplings, and someone who will just let that ball roll will most certainly be better than someone so concerned with protecting our freedoms that he would not want activist judges to assert their judgment to allow you or I to marry whomever we wish lest those judges undercut the freedom of the community to tell you or I who we are and aren’t free to marry, even though that community might have already said it’s okay — or something like that… Makes my head hurt.

As for Iraq, I feel that Hussein deserved what came to him and that the Iraqi people will be better off because of the United States’ intervention. Great. But. The United States needs those hundreds of billions of dollars at home right now and our economy and our citizens should not have borne the burden of financing that intervention. That’s what the United Nations exists for and I believe that the U.S. should be making an effort to play nicely with the rest of the world not unilaterally throwing its weight around. Or we will spend more of our fiscal and political capital on enterprises that don’t benefit us as a nation much at all. And I resent spending money we don’t have on something we didn’t need. Etc.

But. I understand that we’re not at the Country Skillet Presidential Buffet, here, and no candidate have exactly the features our next President should have. I also feel like gay marriage should not top the list of reasons to support or not support someone: economic policy, leadership skill, and international political skill should top that list. Also, Kerry voted against both of the Bush tax cuts (as did Edwards and Kucinich), one of my litmus tests (since those bills seem so clearly wrong-minded and borderline corrupt, frankly). ( has a ton of information about the candidates, including voting records. I’d recommend taking a look. Fuck trusting the opinion of some wind-bag blogger.)

I don’t really know that much about the different Democratic candidates. And because our system seems designed to only allow certain swing states a true voice in the Presidential election process (by spreading state primaries across months and through the out-of-date electoral voting system) — and because Texas is in the late half of the primary cycle (after about thirty states including California and New York) and a state that has swung quite to the Republican side lately — my votes for President will have less impact that the votes of others in states such as Florida and Oregon (swing states). Or rather, my vote will be tallied in Bush’s column when Texas goes Republican again. So will yours, since you’re probably living in Austin right now. (Not that I won’t vote.)

Anyway. It’ll be interesting to see how Texas swings, though I suspect the field will be much smaller (Gov. Howard Dean, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, and Al Sharpton will have dropped out by that point) and Kerry will have a sizeable delegate lead.

So for this election I guess I’m kind of a reverse yellow-dog Democrat: instead of intending to vote for the Democrat no matter who the rival, I intend to vote against the current Republican President no matter who the rival. Mr. Bush isn’t necessarily a horrible or stupid man, but I feel he’s making way too many missteps — from creating economic policy that’s going to cause the shit to hit the fan in twenty years when I’ll have to pay for larger part of it, by allowing (or threatening to allow) his pseudo-religious views to repeatedly interrupt people’s lives and work (banning stem cell research, the gay marriage issue, etc.), and by allowing to many edges to be worn off the Constitution (privacy rights, search and seizure rights, seperation of church and state, etc.). It’s too much.

So there you go. Some thoughts. In no particular order.