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What's wrong with John Kerry??

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He is not Bill Clinton.

Just gotta say it again, right off, because it is, quite possibly, still the most difficult fact for most moderates and Demos to accept, even now: Kerry is not Clinton. Kerry is not JFK. Kerry is not quite even Al Gore. We have to accept it. Let's go from there.


It bears repeating because, as tens of millions (billions, even) across the planet realize, Bush is so obviously ripe, so obviously dripping with glaring misprision, so deeply rife with flaw and bumble and moronism, and his policies are so full of gaping holes and his ethics are so full of hostile lies and his wars are so lacking in WMDs and "nukuler" plants and any sort of justification, well, you'd think any decent opponent worth his sound bite would have a veritable cakewalk stomping Dubya's little cowboy brain into powdery AWOL Texas cow-pie smithereens.


But so far, it ain't happening. The BushCo spin machine is lethal and malicious and formidable indeed, for one thing. The Repubs are phenomenally well funded and absolutely heartless, and it cannot be understated how effective your campaign can be when you have zero ethics about attacking your opponent and zero moral compass and zero accountability and when you have Karl Rove for an underhanded heat-seeking attack-dog missile of bile and innuendo and slander and smear.


But for two, it has to be acknowledged: Kerry ain't exactly a firestorm of magnetism and inspiration. He is, unfortunately, more than a little staid, pedestrian, beige. On Letterman, on "The Daily Show," on Leno, he was finely honed and well groomed and grinning and likable enough, a true die-hard patrician politician almost completely devoid of modern-day TV-ready sparkle and zing. He's just so ... solid. And book learned. And experienced. And deeply intelligent. American translation: yawn.


But is this really why many moderates just can't get themselves to like Kerry all that much, even if they agree with his policies and his stellar environmental record and his Vietnam heroism and even if they know Bush really, really has to go? Because he's just too sober and conventional? Or is it the hair? The WASP entitlement? The booming, deadening oratory style?


Or is it the lack of a winking charm, of a flirtatious Clintonesque gleam in the eye that says he's onto this whole bulls-- game and knows how to play it better than anyone and can flaunt the well-known fact that any 8-year-old can outmaneuver George W. Bush in a contest of intellect and acumen and simple algebra? Yea, verily.


Simply put, Kerry is disliked because he is just not enjoyably slick enough. Or cleverly cold blooded enough. Or deftly manipulative enough. And in this day and age, if you ain't massively and strategically calculating on a hundred different levels (or if you don't, like Bush, have a snarling team of demon dogs to orchestrate it all for you), you're hamburger.


This, then, is the bizarre conundrum. Where Bush is all bumbling mispronunciations and massive stacks of warmongering lies and foreign policy like an international cancer, Kerry is simply "annoying."


Where Bush has let more than 1,000 U.S. soldiers die in Iraq with nary a shrug and has allowed tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians -- women and children included -- to be killed over his bogus and lie-strewn war and when he openly refuses to admit his appalling mistakes and holds an absolutely unwavering and imbecilic brick-headed conviction that war is good and God is on our side and money and stick size decide all conflicts, Kerry is ... what, again? Oh, right, a little bit "flip-floppy."


Normally, Kerry would be an impressive enough contender, especially against Dubya. Kerry can, after all, speak in complete, polysyllabic sentences. He can read above a high school level. He can speak extemporaneously, without a TelePrompter. He is not loathed the world over and is not widely considered the most dangerous and reckless and hostile leader of any free-world country on the planet.


Kerry may not be Mr. Charisma, but he is clear eyed, and lucid, and genuinely seems to care about making the country slightly more respectable among our furious allies again. How very horrible.


But, then again, this ain't no normal election. The GOP, they are dialed in like never before. They are on point. They know how to violently exploit the NASCAR dad's fears of gays, of women, of "furriners." They know how to terrify gullible soccer moms with images of swarthy fundamentalists who want to eat their precious babies.


Call it the Rove effect. It's all in the spin, baby. It's all in the presentation. It has little to do with your own atrocities and lies and contemptible actions, nothing to do with your inept military service or environmental records, nothing to do with letting Osama run free while bombing other nonthreatening countries at will. It has everything to do with image, with personal vendetta, with "character."


Same as it ever was? Maybe. But this time, there's a decidedly malicious GOP-bred methodology at work, one that seems to be operating at a level normally reserved for dictatorships and military coups and brutal autocratic regimes.


After all, any administration that would shamelessly hijack the 9/11 tragedy for its own hateful, isolationist agenda is capable of just about anything. And if they get four more carte blanche years to really gut the world and go after the heart of this nation, all bets are off.


Which is exactly why so many of us desperately want Kerry to be cutthroat and ferocious and deadly. We want him to be savage and quick witted and able to effortlessly tick off the shopping list of astounding BushCo atrocities on one hand while rabbit-punching Karl Rove's big puffy face with the other, all while knocking out a clever pun related to Dubya sitting on Cheney's lap and burping softly, like a stupefied baby.


Instead, we get a Kerry who appears to want to take the Gore-like, policy-wonk, issues-first approach. Kerry, like the Dems overall, hasn't seemed nearly heartless and merciless enough for this fight. Kerry wants to have a respectable duel with pistols, whereas Bush wants to kick you in the genitals while your back is turned and then run away giggling and snorting and jump into Rove's open arms for a big homoerotic hug.


The good news is, as this bizarre election races toward us, Kerry is indeed stepping up his attacks, getting his focus, nailing Bush on a wide array of issues like never before. And we can only pray that in the upcoming debates that Bush tried to shun like bright sunlight, Kerry will make Dubya stumble and mutter and bonk his baffled head into the podium and wail for Jesus to save his shriveled, spoon-fed soul.


But I suppose this is the saddest part of all. That is, how cheerless and heartbreaking is it when you are essentially forced to wish that your candidate would be more ruthless, more cutthroat, more ferocious. When deep down you long for a little dignity among your leaders, some humanitarian deftness, some way to salvage a shred of spirit and hope amongst the political carnage.


Not this time. After all, sometimes, when playing badminton with the devil, you gotta screw the birdies and lob a couple grenades.

Mark Morford / sfgate.com

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Put Away Your Hankies...a message from Michael Moore




Dear Friends,


Enough of the handwringing! Enough of the doomsaying! Do I have to come there and personally calm you down? Stop with all the defeatism, OK? Bush IS a goner -- IF we all just quit our whining and bellyaching and stop shaking like a bunch of nervous ninnies. Geez, this is embarrassing! The Republicans are laughing at us. Do you ever see them cry, "Oh, it's all over! We are finished! Bush can't win! Waaaaaa!" Hell no. It's never over for them until the last ballot is shredded. They are never finished -- they just keeping moving forward like sharks that never sleep, always pushing, pulling, kicking, blocking, lying.


They are relentless and that is why we secretly admire them -- they just simply never, ever give up. Only 30% of the country calls itself "Republican," yet the Republicans own it all -- the White House, both houses of Congress, the Supreme Court and the majority of the governorships. How do you think they've been able to pull that off considering they are a minority? It's because they eat you and me and every other liberal for breakfast and then spend the rest of the day wreaking havoc on the planet.


Look at us -- what a bunch of crybabies. Bush gets a bounce after his convention and you would have thought the Germans had run through Poland again. The Bushies are coming, the Bushies are coming! Yes, they caught Kerry asleep on the Swift Boat thing. Yes, they found the frequency in Dan Rather and ran with it. Suddenly it's like, "THE END IS NEAR! THE SKY IS FALLING!"


No, it is not. If I hear one more person tell me how lousy a candidate Kerry is and how he can't win... Dammit, of COURSE he's a lousy candidate -- he's a Democrat, for heavens sake! That party is so pathetic, they even lose the elections they win! What were you expecting, Bruce Springsteen heading up the ticket? Bruce would make a helluva president, but guys like him don't run -- and neither do you or I. People like Kerry run.


Yes, OF COURSE any of us would have run a better, smarter, kick-ass campaign. Of course we would have smacked each and every one of those phony swifty boaty bastards down. But WE are not running for president -- Kerry is. So quit complaining and work with what we have. Oprah just gave 300 women a...Pontiac! Did you see any of them frowning and moaning and screaming, "Oh God, NOT a friggin' Pontiac!" Of course not, they were happy. The Pontiacs all had four wheels, an engine and a gas pedal.


My friends, it is time for a reality check.


1. The polls are wrong. They are all over the map like diarrhea. On Friday, one poll had Bush 13 points ahead -- and another poll had them both tied. There are three reasons why the polls are b.s.: One, they are polling "likely voters." "Likely" means those who have consistently voted in the past few elections. So that cuts out young people who are voting for the first time and a ton of non-voters who are definitely going to vote in THIS election. Second, they are not polling people who use their cell phone as their primary phone. Again, that means they are not talking to young people. Finally, most of the polls are weighted with too many Republicans, as pollster John Zogby revealed last week. You are being snookered if you believe any of these polls.


2. Kerry has brought in the Clinton A-team. Instead of shunning Clinton (as Gore did), Kerry has decided to not make that mistake.


3. Traveling around the country, as I've been doing, I gotta tell ya, there is a hell of a lot of unrest out there. Much of it is not being captured by the mainstream press. But it is simmering and it is real. Do not let those well-produced Bush rallies of angry white people scare you. Turn off the TV! (Except Jon Stewart and Bill Moyers -- everything else is just a sugar-coated lie).


4. Conventional wisdom says if the election is decided on "9/11" (the fear of terrorism), Bush wins. But if it is decided on the job we are doing in Iraq, then Bush loses. And folks, that "job," you might have noticed, has descended into the third level of a hell we used to call Vietnam. There is no way out. It is a full-blown mess of a quagmire and the body bags will sadly only mount higher.


Regardless of what Kerry meant by his original war vote, he ain't the one who sent those kids to their deaths -- and Mr. and Mrs. Middle America knows it. Had Bush bothered to show up when he was in the "service" he might have somewhat of a clue as to how to recognize an immoral war that cannot be "won." All he has delivered to Iraq was that plasticized turkey last Thanksgiving. It is this failure of monumental proportions that is going to cook his goose come this November.


So, do not despair. All is not over. Far from it. The Bush people need you to believe that it is over. They need you to slump back into your easy chair and feel that sick pain in your gut as you contemplate another four years of George W. Bush. They need you to wish we had a candidate who didn't windsurf and who was just as smart as we were when we knew Bush was lying about WMD and Saddam planning 9/11.


It's like Karl Rove is hypnotizing you -- "Kerry voted for the

war...Kerry voted for the war...Kerrrrrryyy vooootted fooooor theeee warrrrrrrrrr..."


Yes...Yes...Yesssss....He did! HE DID! No sense in fighting now...what I need is sleep...sleeep...sleeeeeeppppp...


WAKE UP! The majority are with us! More than half of all Americans are pro-choice, want stronger environmental laws, are appalled that assault weapons are back on the street -- and 54% now believe the war is wrong.




Buck up. The country is almost back in our hands. Not another negative word until Nov. 3rd! Then you can bitch all you want about how you wish Kerry was still that long-haired kid who once had the courage to stand up for something. Personally, I think that kid is still inside him. Instead of the wailing and gnashing of your teeth, why not hold out a hand to him and help the inner soldier/protester come out and defeat the forces of evil we now so desperately face. Do we have any other choice?






Michael Moore

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Even Brits prefer Kerry!


Europe to Bush: Go away

Even British prefer Kerry for president


Vivienne Walt, Chronicle Foreign Service

Monday, September 27, 2004



Paris -- "Why Bush must be beaten," screamed the headline of Le Nouvel Observateur, a left-leaning French newsweekly. Smaller type above the U.S. president's half profile provided the answer: "His re-election will be a catastrophe for the world and for America."


That sentiment may have been expressed more bluntly than the opinions of many Europeans, yet it captured the passions on this continent over who will occupy the White House come January.


Poised halfway between the political wrangling in Washington over the war in Iraq and the suicide bombs and kidnappings in Baghdad, Europeans have rarely felt so involved in a U.S. presidential race.


Many Europeans, analysts and regular citizens alike, argue that their own security is increasingly at risk, while violence spirals in Iraq and anti- Western hostility hardens in Europe's backyard -- the Arab world.


Some on the continent have suggested, only half-jokingly, that with one superpower remaining in a globalized world, Europeans ought to have a say in who should be America's next president.


"Americans will choose their president, and the rest of the world will have to live with that decision," said Bernhard May, a senior analyst at the German Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin. "All we can do is talk to people."


Perhaps mirroring sentiments on the other side the Atlantic, Europeans who dislike Bush are not necessarily strong supporters of John Kerry.


"Europe is get-rid-of-Bush country, which is not quite the same as Kerry country," said Guillaume Parmentier, head of the Center on the United States at the French Institute for International Relations in Paris.


He said the continent's hostility toward Bush began long before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, dating back to Bush's decision in 2001 to reverse President Bill Clinton's support for the Kyoto Protocol on global warming -- a cherished cause for many European politicians. "Iraq just made it worse," Parmentier added.


Yet European's good-guy, bad-guy approach to the presidential race is simplistic, say some analysts. "In substance, there is no such black-and-white picture," said May, a specialist on German-American relations.


May points out that Kerry has already made clear his belief that Europe should participate more in Iraq's reconstruction. The Democratic candidate has called for sending European troops to help with January's elections in Iraq. The county's first democratic elections will probably require thousands of peacekeeping troops to secure election monitors and polling sites amid escalating violence.


Europeans might find it hard to provide such help, because tens of thousands of their soldiers are already deployed in Afghanistan and the Balkans. Yet it would be harder for the continent's leaders to refuse the man they greatly prefer for president over Bush, says May.


"If Kerry is elected, he'll present us with this challenge perhaps in his very first week in office," May said. "Bush won't put the same kind of pressures on Europeans to help out. He's been rebuffed before."


A survey published this month by the Program on International Policy Attitudes in Washington, which conducts polls on global issues, found that Europeans overwhelmingly opposed Bush's re-election. Kerry was the favored candidate even in Britain, the Bush administration's closest ally. There, 47 percent of those interviewed said they would choose Kerry, compared with 16 percent for Bush.


Not surprisingly, anti-Bush feelings were strongest in countries whose governments have based their foreign policies on refusing to join the U.S.- dominated coalition in Iraq. In Germany, 74 percent said they would back Kerry, compared with 10 percent for Bush, while in France only 5 percent said they would vote for Bush, and 63 percent said they supported Kerry.


Both French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder rejected Bush's requests to support military action in Iraq last year and have staked their leadership in Europe on that stance.


In Spain, Kerry's lead over Bush was only slightly narrower: 47 to 7 percent. Spain's Prime Minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, won election last March almost entirely on the promise to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq. Zapatero's predecessor, Jose Maria Aznar, was a frequent White House visitor and had a growing personal relationship with Bush at the time he was ousted.


Europe's complex feelings about U.S. politics are hardly new. The two continents have for centuries looked to each other for cultural inspiration as near-mirrors of each other through the years. But this year's campaign has brought a new tension over Americans' political choices.


"There's this usual tradition of a love-hate relationship," said Jean- Gabriel Fredet, one of two journalists who wrote the mid-September Nouvel Observateur cover story pleading for Bush's defeat. "But now there's a growing anxiety about the world's sole superpower," he said in an interview. "Excuse the cliche, but it's true."


Fredet's article listed numerous reasons why Bush should go: "unprecedented" American isolationism since 2000; "unequaled arrogance" in Bush's leadership style; intolerant religious fervor; and the growing millions of Americans without proper health insurance. On a continent with largely free health services, many Europeans cite that last reason as their major dislike for the U.S. system and are often dumbfounded about why Americans do not push politicians for universal health care.


Despite the overwhelming support among Europeans, Fredet says that few people expect dramatic changes if Kerry defeats Bush.


"Of course we believe Kerry will change things only in a slight way," he said. "But at least he will do it in a more polite way."

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The Trouble With Kerry


It is not substantially different than the problem that Republican primary voters faced in 2000, when they collectively chose Mr. Bush as the most electable person over other, more charismatic, experienced and nationally known candidates, including Elizabeth Dole, Orrin Hatch and, of course, John McCain. In 2004, the Democrats consistently voiced the opinion that Kerry was more electable over the field present in the primaries, which included good candidates such as a former southern governor and current senator, Bob Graham, as well as candidates who were drawing more adoring crowds and exhibiting more charisma, such as Edwards and Dean.


Unfortunately, as was the case with the Republicans, who nominated someone who lost the popular vote and barely won the electoral vote on a technicality enforced by a court decision, this year the Democrats have presented a highly flawed nominee simply because they were convinced he might be more electable.


This problem is not new. It has been discussed before during nearly every last election cycle of the modern era: primaries are selecting two candidates and it is only among these two that the actual president is selected.


With few exceptions, this process has produced some very mediocre possibilities from either end of the political spectrum, most of whom have had little to recommend them for their leadership potential.

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