Thursday, February 05, 2004

James Lileks on Kerry

Let's just quote the whole thing:

"Heard a John Kerry speech today: ended with “Purple Haze,” I think. As a Hendrix tune for the campaign, it’s better than “Let Me Stand Next to Your Fire,” which would be the most inapt Kerry tune imaginable. He has no fire. He wouldn’t catch fire if you doused him in kerosene and shot Roman Candle balls at him. He’s a sopping-wet asbestos poncho. But it was the 60s music that made me shudder. It appears that in the middle of the new war we’re going to revisit the most important war ever, Vietnam.

"God no. Please no. I think I speak for millions when I say that I am deathly sick of the counterculture sixties. The music, the war, the protests, all the hagiography - it's not a reflection of the era’s importance but the self-importance of the generation who hung on the bus as it trundled along down the same old rutted road of history.. I’m tired of hearing about the boomers’ days of whine and neuroses; I’m weary of ritual genuflection to their musical icons; I’m utterly disinterested in most of the pop-cult trivia they hold so dear. We’ll probably be better off when that demographic pig has been excreted from the python so we can see the era clearly without choking on the smoke.

"What's the message here? John Kerry is best suited to lead us in the present war because he was a prominent opponant of the last one, which we lost. John Kerry led the fight to leave South Vietnam to the mercies of the North. John Kerry would rather lose a theater for the right reasons than win it for reasons the critics derided. Dress it up however you like, but that’s what it came down to; college students marched not against the Vietnamese war but the American participation in that conflict. Anyone fill the Mall in DC to protest the reeducation camps? Any Solidarity with the Boat People committees formed on campuses after the fall of the south? The privations of the vanquished South Vietnamese were an uncomfortable consequence of their goals – but of course it didn’t detract a jot from the nobility of the cause. I still remember the week we had a Vietnamese woman stay at our house - she was a Party member, a professional, and what did she bring back home for her kids? White paper. To draw on. A luxury item, that.

"If Kerry wants to bring this era back, he’s demonstrated that his branch of the party are the modern-day Bourbons. They have forgotten nothing and learned nothing. For them the great evil wasn’t communism, but America’s response to communism. And now the threat isn’t Islamic terrorism, but what we do to combat it. We act without French approval. We act after 170 UN resolutions instead of crafting a 171st which forbids us from acting. We deploy anti-missile defenses around the Korean peninsula instead of striking a deal to give them more food, more oil, more time. In short, we act as if we have a pair.

"I’m sure this appeals to the people in my neighborhood who’ve altered their NO WAR WITH IRAQ to read NO HALLIBURTON IN IRAQ. (Seriously.) And I’m sure those people said YEAH! when Terry McAuliffe – Carville without the warmth – accused Bush of “not serving in the military,” and said that Bush Sr. pulled strings to get him an honorable discharge. They know that’s true. They know it. Just as they know that Bush never flew a jet, and has the IQ of a warm rock, etc. etc. The whole AWOL thing is slanderous nonsense – but it’s completely consistent with the new tone. Imagine if the head of the RNC had floated Mena rumors in 96, or wondered aloud about Gore’s role in Ron Brown’s “mysterious” plane crash death. And imagine if these memes were floated in the middle of a hot war. The difference is that "Mena" would have been a hot-button word at the RNC convention for those nutballs who wear 348 buttons and straw hats, whereas I suspect that the "Bush was AWOL" idea will be embraced enthusiastically by delegates who are NEA secretaries from Nebraska. We'll see.

"McAuliffe said he was responding to the GOP’s attacks on Democrats’ patriotism. Examples given: none. You want attacks on patriotism, listen to Wesley Clark, who has specifically accused Bush of being unpatriotic – and in the same speech said that the Democratic party was the only party that exemplified Christian teachings. (I’m not getting this from second-hand sources; I heard the speech on Hugh Hewitt’s show with my own small ears. I hope Hugh posts the audio soon so it’s out there for all to hear.) We’re not discussing issues here; we’re not even discussing how next to prosecute the war. Because that doesn’t matter.

"I’m waiting for a Kerry speech in which he seems angrier about 9/11 than he does about tax cuts.

"I’m waiting for an ad that simply puts the matter plainly: who do you think Al Qaeda wants to win the election? Who do you think will make Syria relax? Who do you think Hezbollah worries about more? Who would Iran want to deal with when it comes to its nuclear program – Cowboy Bush or “Send in the bribed French inspectors” Kerry? Which candidate would our enemies prefer?

"O the shrieking that would result should such an ad run. You can’t even ask those questions, even though they’re the most relevant questions of the election.

"Oh, more thing. Let’s say President Kerry would be forced to act against North Korea, because we caught them shipping nukes to a terrorist organization, and once we got there we uncovered all the torture camps and poison-gas human experiment labs. Let’s say his administration had several retreads from the Clinton era. Do you think we’d see this image below on Democratic Underground message boards?"