Washington, D.C. A city of democracy, freedom, liberty... ha ha, just kidding. Actually we're all about digging up 30-year-old dirt on our celebri-ticians.
Call Exhibit Q. Last Wednesday, that bastion of journalistic inegrity, the Washington Times, led off with the following breaking news story above the fold on the front page:
Photo of Kerry with Fonda enrages Vietnam veterans
Hey, sounds like a pretty juicy scoop, right? (Wow, I bet nobody has said that phrase since 1934.) Fonda, of course, is widely reviled by veterans for her stint in Hanoi (here's the comprehensive Snopes history lesson for young'uns like me). I dare say that Vietnam veterans are not fond'a Fonda, and by doing so I have used up my allowable number of puns for the 2004 calendar year (one).
Anyway, a photo of Kerry associating with Fonda would probably ruffle some ridges. Here's the photo in question:
Um, OK... Jane Fonda's obviously the woman in the orange top and sporting way too much in the bangs department. Kerry's not the guy to the right of Jane Fonda, even though that's who I looked at first. He's not directly behind Fonda. He's not, in fact, anywhere adjacent to her. He's that guy wayyyy in the back, squinting and so far away from the camera that he's out of focus.
This. Is the big story. That John Kerry was, at one point in his life, standing within 20 feet of Jane Fonda at an anti-war rally. Two years before she went to Hanoi.
Wow. I'm sorry, but... you would have to be delusional for this to upset you. It adds nothing to what we already know. Kerry served in Vietnam, was awarded a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, three Purple Hearts and a partidge in a pear tree. After that he came home and protested the war and testified to Congress about atrocities he claimed were regularly commited by soldiers.
If you were already mad at Kerry for that, this photo isn't going to change that. Also, if you weren't already mad at Kerry for that, this photo also isn't going to change that. And yet, this was story A-number-1 last Wednesday, and thus was all over other various websites. Unreal.
Then of course, the Internet exploded when a story broke out last week about Kerry having an affair with an intern at some unspecified point in the past (let me guess, 30 years ago?). This has been beaten to absolute death everywhere and supposedly proven false, so I'm not going to rehash it. But, you know, VOMIT. The way this was treated both on the Internet and in the mainstream news media left me feeling... not so fresh. Everybody ran with it like it was the next Watergate. It was not.
Meanwhile, the President doesn't have it much better. For some reason, the White House press corps has chosen now to grill him on a subject on which he's been less than forthcoming: his National Guard service and whether he fulfilled it, all-the-way-completely-for-reals. Thirty years ago.
(Um, guys? Why now? Why choose now to call him to task on this pointless issue, instead of last year, when you were all basically giving the President fellatio and generally accepting his claims about Iraq at face value without asking for actual proof? Seriously, Woodward and Bernstein are rolling around in their graves right now.
Just kidding. Woodward's still alive, of course.)
All week, Bush's press secretary has had to fend off an angry press corps. Document after document was released about Bush's past; dental records, pay stubs, etc. And still, they kept on coming like jackals. Where was the President on Aug. 12, 1973 at 4:50 p.m.? America demands to know!
Listen up, press people and bloggers. I want to be able to vote on a Presidential candidate based on his stand on the issues. I don't care what these guys did 30 years ago. I don't even care if Kerry and Bush were AWOL and driving drunk together throughout the Northeast, banging interns and doing coke off Jane Fonda's torso before moving on to Botox. Because none of that has anything to do with them trying to be President.
And futhermore, people have to be able to make mistakes 30 years ago and move on with their lives, even if they are President or running for President. In fact, I would suggest that having someone as President who has made a few mistakes in the past is a good thing, because people can learn from their mistakes. This is apparently a shocking, relevatory concept in this country. When you make a mistake in life, which I think *maybe* a couple of us have done, you have to be able to accept it, learn from it, and grow as a person. You shouldn't have to feel that your mistakes will haunt you for the rest of time. And yet, that's what we do to our presidential candidates; their mistakes from 30-plus years ago are dredged up so we can all have a good laugh at his expense.
Obviously a lot of these retarded attacks are initiated by people who are just trying to dig up some shit on a prominent candidate they don't like, and hopefully the rational voters in this country who are undecided know to ignore that stuff and pay attention to what's important.
Yeah, I don't believe that either.
I think for now, when I look across the river and see the Mall, the White House, the Capitol building, I'm going to be thinking, "that's is one fucking gigantic playpen for a bunch of three-year-olds." Not so much with the "wow, they're doing great things for our country over there" feelings at the moment. If ever again.