Thursday, August 05, 2004

Swift Boat Vets speak out!

The swift boat veterans are speaking up, and it's deep hurting for the Kerry/Edwards campaign. Since you probably won't see this ad on TV, click here to see it online.

By the way, the ad has a considerable amount of what we lit-crit types like to call "slippage" -- which means that it "slips" from one issue to another, and back again, without quite informing anyone that the subject has changed. Sometimes these veterans are referring to Kerry's service in Vietnam, but sometimes they refer to his anti-war activities once he returned home. What's more, the comments are mixed together, so that it's difficult to figure out which is which.

The visuals contribute to the overall strategy of confusion and conflation, mixing black-and-white photos of Kerry's Vietnam tour of duty with photos from Kerry's anti-war rallies. The camera pans across Kerry's military photos, but it zooms, Ken Burns style, on some especially unsavory detail in the anti-war photos. Many of these I recognized from Kerry's infamous book The New Soldier, a no-holds-barred attack on US soldiers. Without the photos, the ad would be nothing more than talking-head interviews, and it would lose most of its visual power.

That said, the ad has real substance. The veterans' testimony about Kerry's actual military service could not be meatier, or more damning, given the 30-second time limit. A retired military surgeon claims that Kerry "lied" about one of his Purple Hearts. "When the chips were down," says one angry comrade-in-arms, "you could not count on John Kerry." Ouuuuuch.

The ad is strictly a low-budget effort, but it's one of the best-crafted pieces of negative campaigning I've ever seen.

Quad Cities: Help Is On the Way!

Here's a line you didn't hear in Kerry's convention speech: "And for bank robbers in the state of Iowa, I say to you: Help is on the way!" With Bush and Kerry speaking only a few blocks away from each other, local miscreants doubtless had a field day.

The Associated Press article I've cited above describes Davenport as an "eastern Iowa town." That reporter should have done her homework: Davenport is no town. It's the second-largest of the Quad Cities, a rust-belt metropolitan area with nearly half a million residents. According to the 2000 census, Davenport's official population is nearly 100,000 -- and as you may have guessed, it's no Mayberry.

I visited the largest of the Quad Cities -- Rock Island, Illinois -- back in 2000. The experience was scary, to say the least. But Davenport looked much worse, like a sort of Great Depression theme park. Muckraking journalists used to love the place, because they could always use one of its more dilapidated neighborhoods as a backdrop for lectures on America's flailing economy. They must be heartbroken to hear that, like many rust-belt cities, Davenport is starting to spruce itself up and reinvent its image: Perhaps a President Kerry could reverse this disturbing trend, setting aside several blocks of crime-ridden slums as a national park ("Urban Blight National Historic Site," perhaps?) so that his fellow leftists will always have a place to ponder the decay of industrial capitalism.

In the meantime, give the Quad Cities some of your hard-earned tourist dollars, won't you?

Landmark Decision in Washington

A superior court judge in King County, Washington, has ruled that the state's Defense of Marriage Act violates the equal protection clause in its constitution. I doubt the Washington State Supreme Court will concur with his wise verdict. Most likely they will conclude that same-sex couples should be allotted separate, inferior legal status -- or in the worst case, no legal status at all.

Still, this judge is correct to note that a marriage bureau is a legal, governmental institution. Either same-sex couples have equal status there, or they do not: The concept of "equality" does not permit nuance or hesitation. Now the question is which will prevail in Washington state -- the rule of law which supports equal rights for same-sex couples, or the will of the people who oppose them?

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Teresa Needs a Time-Out (or, "Scary Terry Kerry")

A few words now about the Democratic nominee for First Lady: Teresa Heinz Kerry.

Last week, during the Democratic National Convention, "Big Momma" Teresa told Pennsylvania delegates that some politicians (presumably right-wing) were displaying "un-American traits." When a journalist with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review promptly asked her what she meant by that statement, she denied she ever said it, then told him to "shove it." The entire exchange was caught on videotape.

Since the convention, Democratic partisans like Michael Moore have come out swinging against the entire newspaper, and that poor journalist is now receiving death threats.

In a post-convention campaign speech in Wisconsin, the divine Ms. Kerry responded to Republican protesters' chants of "Four more years!" with the quip, "They want four more years of hell."

Teresa has become the raging Id of the Kerry/Edwards campaign, and may represent the true face of the American Left. She needs a time-out.

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