If you think Al Gore was stiff, you ain’t seeing nothing yet until you see John Kerry. John Kerry by his faith and initials, his state of origin, the circumstance of his birth and his wealthy parentage and background, is supposed to be a reincarnation of the one and only JFK (John Fitzgerald Kennedy) of blessed memory. But the two individuals are so different in their persona. How I wish John Kerry is able to demonstrate and more forcefully project some of those attributes of Kennedy that have combined to make him so special and loved around the world. John Kerry, as far as I am concerned, has a very appealing resume that should make him a great President, but the Bush propaganda and smear machine is pulling every stop with millions of dollars to tarnish his reputation, and to damage him beyond repairs. It is true that Kerry is not a Kennedy, but he sure has the disciplne, the political and military experience and knowledge to be a Leader of the Free World, ant to do a better job than the current President It is hard to duplicate JFK because he is clearly a “sui generis” But I see in John Kerry some stiffness and some features of the great Abraham Lincoln whose stiffness did not stop him from becoming one of the greatest world leaders and President. But in terms of charisma and charm, not even Abe Lincoln can compete with JFK.
You go to Tora Bora in Afghanistan or Mogunyanje in Ilaje Eseodo Local Government in Ondo State, Nigeria, or Kaula in Senegal or Ifite Oraifite in Imo State of Nigeria, or Gbadolite in the Republic of the Congo formerly called Zaire, and even in the remotest part of Africa including Soweto, if you don’t find a portrait of Mohammed Ali hanging over the walls in their living rooms and ghettoes, you are most likely to find a portrait of John F. Kennedy one of the best loved and most admired American Presidents of all times. That was then, if you ask me. Today America is so detested, misunderstood, and pilloried around the world, not because ordinary Americans have done anything to earn that notoriety, but all because of the policies and arrogant streak of George Bush the Second who has squandered all the reservoir of goodwill that America as the shining city on the hill used to enjoy over the years. That was so, because of the image and reputation of great Presidents like Abraham Lincoln who had freed the slaves, even though he was himself a slave owner. He knew that emancipation was politically incorrect at the time he made his move, but he did it anyway, because he knew it was the right thing to do. Even though he was a dye-in-the-wool Republican, he believed it was better to tax the rich, to give the poor and the middle class a chance to live a more egalitarian life as brilliantly and eloquently pointed out by Mario Cuomo in his new book on Lincoln. He knew those policies were unpopular to a cross section of some powerful Americans, at the time, but he still managed to sign them into Law, all the same, because he had passionately believed they were the right things for the nation.
Same thing with the legend called FDR who had initiated the Social Security Scheme that subsequent generation of his successors have never been able to jettison, even as we speak. The same FDR a paraplegic in his later years in office, had conceived the idea of the League of Nations which had later metamorphosed into the United Nations as the greatest catalyst for peace around the world. How about JFK himself who had not only inspired America but had inspired the whole world with hope through his force of personality and the policies he had pursued during his short but epoch-making Presidency. I have gone into this short history just to show how easy it should have been for John Kerry to be able to draw a distinction between him and the current tenant of the White House whose policies and rush to an unnecessary war to score a cheap popularity, and his contempt for the United Nations have combined to put America on the opposite side of where America needs to be, as the greatest nation on Earth. I had thought that John Kerry was going to increasingly harp on that distinction at every opportunity to show why the Damage Controller-in-Chief in the White House does not deserve to be reelected. Kerry is yet to convincingly make the case that the current President who had single-handedly caused all the damage to begin with, cannot, and should not be the one to clean up the mess he has created. Common sense should have made that clear, that you need a candidate who would not let the current President get away with that. Kerry is yet to do that, and I think he should, and get many more of his supporters to do the same at a time the Democrats are so much united in taking back the White House plus, at least, one arm of the Legislature this time around, because there is truly some merit in a divided government in a melting pot like America. One winner takes all is not good for any democratic country.
I am amazed that the kettle is today calling the pot black. George Bush Jnr. wants the voters to believe that John Kerry is a man who flip-flops and does not seem to be able to make up his mind on any issue. it is a big lie. Any President who does not harbor some element of doubt on what he does or plans is too much of a risk taker to be trusted to lead the world as America is ordained by God to do, at least for now, if not for ever. The Bush machine is therefore paying for often negative and misleading commercials to permanently stigmatize John Kerry at best as another Michael Dukakis driving an armored vehicle. He wants the whole nation to forget that John Kerry, like JFK before him, was a highly decorated war hero, who had returned back from real war to dedicate his entire life to public service by serving first as Lieutenant Governor for four years, and then for more than twenty years as a very experienced and knowledgeable Senator in the US Congress, long before George Bush ever ran for Governor of Texas. In terms of experience in Government and War time experience and discipline, John Kerry is head and shoulder above George Bush. The President is now running away from his failed policies on the War and what should have been the role of the United Nation, only to start embracing all the ideas that John Kerry has been persistently floated for two years now. The President is deliberately failing to acknowledge that he himself has turned 180 degrees from most of what he had promised he was going to do, if he ever became President. He is today using the Kerry script and trying to implement everything that Kerry has recommended, but doing it the wrong way quite often. If George Bush would not talk about this observation, it is total foolhardiness for Kerry to just keep quiet, and not to draw the voters’ attention to a virtual retreat by Bush on all fronts. I can tell you that Bush is smart enough to turn around and to argue when the debates begin, that it is John Kerry that is trying to steal his ideas. We need the Kerry and his supporters and handlers across the nation to pay more attention to this observation, because it is surely coming. A leader that has fumbled for three and a half years out of a four year term does not deserve to be reelected because of a little blip or turnaround in his record. I could be wrong, but that is my view.
In 2000, many including yours truly, were expecting Al Gore, the policy wong and powerful debater to cut George Bush down to size like he did with Ross Perot in a previous debate. The first thing George Bush had started to do, was to lower expectation about his own ability to debate, literarily setting Al Gore up, so he could go into the debate totally underrating Bush. It was a rope-a dope strategy that had worked so well for Bush in the past. I guess he just might do it again against John Kerry with some degree of success unless Democrats like the three individuals mentioned in this article accept the challenge to help Kerry to sharpen his message. Bush is just going to be looking for one liner, and pulling a fast one on Kerry, using his so-called charm and ambush to play on the intelligence of news media or whoever may be moderating the debate. The only other Democrat I know who can easily neutralize that strategy is Bubba himself who is razor-blade sharp, and will easily reduce the junior Bush into a cartoon character because Clinton is always able to pick a needle from a haystack of complex issues and argument. Of course, the other three individuals who are not running for president, but are two of the best and powerful orators, I have ever known, are the HBO night time comedian, Bill Maher and the unflappable, talented inspirational speaker and orator, the one and only Mario Cuomo of New York. The third is Richard Holbrook. John Edwards, or Joe Biden, if he gets the nod for running mate is another guy who can connect with the voters in ways that John Kerry and very few politicians are able to.
Let me begin first with Bill Maher whose frequent interviews with Larry King, I have been privileged to watch so many times. I believe Larry King himself often gets a kick out of talking to Bill Maher because of his quick wit and intelligence which are truly amazing. I watched him on CNN Larry King on June 2nd, 2004. He was simply terrific in defining and articulating the issues laced with some modicum of humor. I strongly recommend that John Kerry and his handlers should just go listen to the tape, and watch Bill Maher make the case for why George Bush ought not to be reelected, and why John Kerry, in spite of his flat affect, as a speaker, would surely make a better President to clear up the mess that four years of Bush have created. It was a virtuoso performance that John Kerry himself could not match. If John Kerry is looking for a key note speaker for the convention in July, he would do well to consider Bill Maher among his list, if he would agree. The other person I could also think of is King Mario Cuomo, or the Lion of the US Senate, Senator Ted Kennedy who is already playing a pivotal role in the Kerry Campaign. This observation also epitomizes the need to find a running mate who can effectively articulate the differences between Bush and Kerry.
I do know that Mario Cuomo has been key note speaker more often than any public official that I know. If you can have Mario Cuomo accept to make the case against Bush at every public forum between now and November, you can take it to the bank, that George Bush is a goner. I urge the Kerry campaign to find some ways to co-opt all of these gentlemen for the task ahead. If John Kerry lets Bill Maher craft the materials for one liner Television commercials against Bush, the whole country will be cracking their ribs with laughter, and he would be hitting Bush harder than any of the Kerry commercials currently running in some of the swing states. Bill is a genius in what he does. If he were to be a woman, I would marry her. Can you believe that? George Bush is undoubtedly vulnerable. What is urgently needed is a new broom to sweep the White House clean, and restore America back to her preeminent position around the world? President Bush has waffled and broken all his promises to the voters across the board.
He had said he was never going to lie or pull a fast one on the Nation. He had not kept his promise one bit. He rushed to war on a wrong premise falsely indicting Saddam Hussein for developing and stockpiling Weapons of Mass Destruction. Those allegations have all turned out to be false. To kill Osama Bin Laden was the initial goal. When that failed or was proving very difficult to attain, he suddenly moved the goal post, saying it would be nice if Osama is caught, but that the real target was Saddam Hussein and bringing Democracy and Freedom to the Middle East because once Iraq falls, the rest of the Middle East should follow in quick succession because of the Domino effect. the quagmire that Iraq has become has shown the fallacy of that hope. He had set out saying America would go it alone, if the UN did not come on board. He has today been forced to take back his own words, and swallowing hook line and sinker the recommendation by John Kerry that he internationalizes the war against terror as the only way to go. His inconsistencies are so many and disastrous that the nation has lost count. George Bush often speaks of accountability in a different way from Harry Truman who had correctly argued that the bucks stop at his desk. With George Bush the bucks stop at George Tenet’s desk or else where in the chain of command. The bucks only stop at his desk when the mission is successful or when the news is good. I give George Bush some credit for being able to change the subject without John Kerry and many of the smart Alecs in our News Media taking notice. He is almost becoming the Harry Houdini of American politics by being able to sell illusion to the people as the gospel truth.
Now to the big question, and I will be done. Does this President ever do anything right and does he ever deliver on any of his promises? To be fair to him, that question has to be answered here and now. The answer is “yes,” but only on promises designed to help him, his political base, and supporters either individual or corporate, who are today contributing millions to his War Chest in form of kickbacks, making this Election the most expensive in American history. There is no question that this President has put a lot of money into the pockets of his supporters, more often than not, at the expense of the American tax payers. Yes, he did give some tax break to the first one per cent of the richest people, companies and multi nationals in America like Halliburton and Enron.. Yes, he did promse he was going to be a stickler to time and to attend official functions and ceremonies with clocklike precision unlike Clinton. He, sure did that. I will not take that away from him. He came to office promising not to touch, with a ten foot pole, any of those things including the good and the bad that Clinton might have done. He had kept that promise, and that was probably one of the reasons America’s prestige and reputation around the world had taken a nosedive as we speak. Clinton knew he had to keep the Palestinian and the Israeli sides talking just to give them hope and not drive them to desperation which is part of the engine driving some of the horrible terrorist attacks around the world. Bush had promised he was going to use the presidency to rollover, intimidate, and overwhelm an opponent at every opportunity, and he has done just that, if not more.
To beat George Bush, Kerry has to be ready and prepared to anticipate the President’s next move, and to neutralize him every step of the way. Few Presidents use the power of incumbency more clandestinely and more forcefully as George Bush. Most fair-minded observers would readily admit that, and I do, with passion. How can America tolerate four more years of that kind of leadership? John Kerry needs as much help as he can get from Bill Maher, Mario Cuomo and Richard Holbrook and from the rest of us to get the job done. God Bless America.
I rest my case.