When John Kerry managed to botch a joke in such a way that it left open the interpretation that he was saying people end up fighting in Iraq because they didn't get good grades, rather than a president ends up sending people into a war because he wasn't willing to study the deeper issues, it led right into more of the same ol' same ol' that politics has become.
That joke was written down for him to say correctly with no chance anyone could have thought he meant the troops, and he couldn't manage it. It gave Republicans a chance to jump all over the issue and accuse every Democrat in the whole country of hating the troops. Botched jokes or jokes in bad taste are not unique to John Kerry. Bush has a ton of them back there but he's not running for president. Oh wait, neither was Kerry. So the point of this was exactly what?
Until I saw Jon Stewart's Daily Show the other night, I had no clue how bad political ads have been. He ran a montage of them for various candidates across the country. They had nothing to do with the issues these people stood for but were all about cheap shots and a hopeful soundbite that would possibly get a voter to ignore the issues and be carried away by emotion.
I thought of this when I was out in my field the other day and the sheep flock was grazing to the back of the pasture. I was out with my .22 more to let the coyotes know I'm around than with a real expectation that they would come in and give me a shot. The sheep glimpsed me and suddenly panicked. They ran for the cows (a smart technique actually), but the idea that they would scatter so fast at the sight of me was not smart. I have never hurt them, have done nothing but shake down apples from the trees, feed them hay and give them water but still they saw me and panicked.
What we have to do as voters is be sure we don't get caught up like sheep when we hear various things like the spin on what Kerry said. Kerry's joke was not intended to put down our soldiers. He has been a friend to the military in terms of voting for more benefits but he doesn't have a knack of saying things wisely-- which is a definite negative in a presidential aspirant. There is one plus. We probably don't have to worry about Kerry running in '08 after this.
The horrible thing about this is it meant Republicans didn't mind at all using our soldiers as tools if it got them votes. Bush's speeches, using this non-issue, were particularly self-serving and disgusting as they so often are when he's using someone or something to gain power for himself. When the Republican party decided to spin what Kerry said into an accusation against our troops, it was done not caring if it hurt their morale or not. The spin was to turn Bush being ignorant (which he was) about the consequences of going into Iraq, about the culture there, into an accusation that Democrats hate our troops-- which is patently ridiculous if you stop to think but if you are sheep, you don't stop to think.
What we need to be aware of is all the candidates, of either party, who run ads not about what they will do or believe, but cheap shots at their opponents. From the looks of it, when you hear an ad come on, you would be wise, to tune it out. Listen to your candidate's speeches, read the voter pamphlets on what that person says they will do-- not that politicians are noted for doing what they say. Like who would admit-- I am open to graft-- just make me an offer and I'll consider voting your way!
And on a national level-- if you like what Bush is doing, vote for Republicans. They will keep him "keeping on".
If you don't like what he's doing, you have to vote Democrat even if you have to hold your nose to do it. It is the only way to turn the House or maybe even the Senate in a new direction giving a chance for fresh thoughts.
The main thing is don't be caught up in spin. It is rarely about what really matters.