Political discrimination. You live in it. So do I. I've always held my tongue to some degree or other. And I'm ashamed of that, because I hold sacred what I believe about the nature of people and politics, and I really actually do think people died to give me the opportunity to have those thoughts. It seems shabby and inadequate that I choose to exercise my hard-won freedom in such a fashion, even in hopes of sparing the world another opinionated loudmouth. Being a loud jerk about what you believe helps the other side, and I regret any damage I have done to causes I support, but I know there are times that I have kept quiet simply because I didn't want to deal with the resulting verbal brawl. And that's lame.
My adolescent fantasy about adult life was about the grand debates we'd all have, Lincoln/Douglas every day everywhere you went, just for the exhilaration of thinking and speaking on such a scale. So pure and unequivocal, uncluttered by the dreary realities of the human struggle and yet so deeply rooted in what is real and solid about humanity. Basic Truths, expounded upon by the wise and the otherwise.
And like all adolescent fantasies, this one seems quaint and vaguely ridiculous in the light of reality. There are no rules of discourse, and if there ever were, they were for suckers. Sometimes I even doubt that Lincoln and Douglas had ever had such a debate as I imagined, where two strong intellects enthusiastically subjugate themselves to the dictates of logic and reason to wrestle with some great question. No ego, just pure thought.
I'm sure I don't need to mention our current campaign in this context. Today we've gone from analyzing one set of 30-year-old records to trying to figure out if another was forged for political gain. At this rate, we'll be hearing testimony from Oliver North any day now. Considering the stakes, I think that's a real shame. And it's far less the fault of the candidates than it is the press, which is being revealed as the insular, deeply biased, criminally underinformed pack of losers it's been for decades now. I can't say enough bad things about the press; they've been fucking dirtbags of the worst kind for years, and starting around the 2000 election they went completely off the deep end.
I'm not much of a Bush fan, I just can't vote for Kerry. I, and many conservatives, would have voted for a number of other dems happily, and with confidence we weren't taking a step backward at a terrible time to do so. He's just an empty guy, I can't think of another word for it. I know the myth is that these hundreds of Swift Boat vets are being pimped by Karl Rove and the forces of evil, but the truth is you can't force old war vets to do anything they don't want to do. Kerry, for example, can't even get a double-digit number of Swifties to shill for him.
I can't personally countenance engaging in attacks on a guy's war record, but this guy is squirrelly about his service, and accused every single Viet Nam vet of committing hideous atrocities he may well have himself committed but could not possibly have seen. My father couldn't wear his uniform in the states for fear of being assaulted and/or spit on (my mother speaks especially angrily about this; it really broke his heart), and many former POWs say Kerry's speeches were played to them as justification for their torture, even during torture.
Most war vets don't seem to want to talk about their service, ever, with people who haven't experienced the same. So when John Edwards says, "If you want to know what kind of man John Kerry would be as our president, ask the men who served with him in war," well, 250+ of those guys want to answer that question, and the mainstream press treats them like they have Ebola, calls them tools of the vast right wing conspiracy, and basically punts on what should be a huge and heavily documented story, which the Kerry campaign has already conceded much of. And yet this 60 Minutes forged memo story still is being reported as if it were true despite being thoroughly debunked days ago. Crazy, isn't it?
Well, not really. Evan Thomas, the editor of Newsweek, said most journalists are for Kerry, and that it should be worth 15 points by election time. Daniel Okrent, the public editor for the NYT, wrote a column the other day, the first two sentences of which were: "Is the NYT a liberal newspaper? Of course." At the UNITY Journalists of Color conference last month, a poll of attendees came up 12-1 for Kerry. People are starting to realize what I knew my first day in Journalism school: journalists are usually liberals, and they use their platform to advance the liberal cause. Or at least that's what they think.
Meanwhile, the big three network news divisions are dying of loneliness, every newspaper but USA Today is losing circulation fast, and there are major circulation-exaggeration cases in court right now. A poll from two months ago ranked the media as the biggest reason we are having trouble in Iraq. Bloggers are scooping and fact-checking traditional media sources a lot in the last year, and it's going to get worse.
Then again, look how long it took. Dan Rather has been at the heart of multiple fake-news scandals, from the Westmoreland case in the '70s (a disaster for CBS financially and otherwise) to the explosives-under-the-SUV from the '90s. Criminal charges should be brought against this son of a bitch. He deserves a sjamboking. On the nuts.
I had a fantastic conversation with an old friend the other day, the first in maybe five years. We had so much fun arguing about politics that at different times both our wives came out to see if we were OK. Damn it was fantastic. At the end I said, "Thanks, I never get to have this much fun." He said, "Me either." Why is that? We are two educated, informed, opinionated people. We haven't lived together in more than a decade, and hadn't talked in at least five years. And the last time we had had a rousing political discussion, one totally about the topics we discussed and not at all about personalities, feelings, or any of that nonsense, was the last time we had done so together. How the hell does that happen?