|August 11, 2004
Bush v. Kerry?
Not Even a Dime's Worth of Difference
By ALEXANDER COCKBURN
Kerry goes from bad to worse. Last week he dropped Saddam's non-existent WMDs as a campaign issue. He did this huge favor to Bush via his (Kerry's) foreign affairs spokesman, the insufferable Jamie Rubin, formerly the top State Department flack in the Clinton years. Rubin told the Washington Post last weekend that knowing then what he knows today about the lack of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Kerry still would have voted to authorize the war and "in all probability" would have launched a military attack to oust Hussein by now if he were president. Up until the previous day Mr flip-flop O'Kerry had said he only "might" have still gone to war.
Then on Monday Kerry did some further clarifying in Arizona where he told the press he would not have changed his vote to authorize the war against Iraq, although he would have handled things "very differently" from President Bush. Kerry said the congressional resolution gave Bush "the right authority for the president to have." (Since Kerry voted for that resolution, what else could he say?) But, Kerry went on, (as reported by CNN) "I would have done this very differently from the way President Bush has."
After this blather, Kerry proclaimed that "There are four real questions that matter to Americans, and I hope you'll get the answers to those questions because the American people deserve them.
"My question to President Bush is why did he rush to war without a plan to win the peace? Why did he rush to war on faulty intelligence and not do the hard work [what "hard work"?] necessary to give America the truth? Why did he mislead America about how he would go to war? [What does this mean?] Why has he not brought other countries to the table in order to support American troops in the way that we deserve it and relieve a pressure from the American people?"
In other words, absolutely nothing separates Kerry from Bush's positions on Iraq except he claims he would have lied more efficiently and somehow wheedled the UN and NATO into giving support. This business about getting the Allies on board, you may recall, was Howard Dean's posture back in the spring.
So Bush, a lousy president but ludicrously over-demonized, is bracketed by a Democratic candidate, Al Gore, who was calling for immediate war on Saddam back in 1999, flanked by all the neo-Cons who subsequently flocked to Bush, and by Kerry who now says he holds exactly the same position, rationalized by the same neo-cons.
If the war on Iraq bothers you, a vote for Kerry is a vote thrown away.
How about the plight of ordinary working people? No succor in sight from Kerry here either. Here we may as well state the obvious. As a political force on the national stage organized labor, manifested in the big unions in the AFL-CIO, is dead. It's over. As a fraction of the work force non-government union membership is now down to 11 per cent of the work force, and that number is sinking by a digit a year.
Back in 1992 labor did have some input into Clinton's campaign with its pledges about "putting people first". Clinton repaid labor's "get out the vote" efforts and money by selling out on health reform and by failing to do anything on labor law or in any way bettering the condition of ordinary working Americans and the very poor. Unless labor laws change, organized labor has bleak prospects.
Here we are in 2004 and labor hasn't managed to elicit a single significant pledge from Kerry. His only concern is Wall Street and the bankers. Back in April he said he would make the deficit his prime concern, which means goodbye to any decent jobs program. So big labor's sole significant political function is to try to enforce discipline on their members to vote for Kerry. That's the essential story, just another mile-marker in the decline of labor since the late 1960s. Kerry's not going to do anything to arrest that decline.