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A Few Presidential Thoughts

I have to admit that I'm getting very, very tired of the Presidential blogs. Both of them accuse the other of all of the tricks of political spin, without ever seemingly stopping to notice that their own camp is following the same playbook. It's like watching two naked men throw stones at their own glass houses. (And if you can pause to think of either presidential candidate naked, you're getting the full horror of the situation.)

The Kerry blog accuses Bush of not mentioning the word "Iraq" on his homepage. Of course, if you include it as part of the "war on terror," it's mentioned all over the site, but the magic word "Iraq" doesn't appear, doubtless on the advice of some political consultant. I seem to recall a certain political topic which the Kerry blog still doesn't mention [1].

Much as I didn't like the candidate, it does make one long for the Dean campaign. The man seemed deliciously unspun, though of course I'm sure that's only partially true. In any event, posts on the campaign blogs may become more sporadic over the summer, simply because both of them have remarkably less to say for themselves. My two main criticisms remain: (a) Kerry's has too few specifics about anything on it, and (b) Bush's entire site seems to be about Kerry.

[1]: Not only does the Kerry blog avoid mentioning gay marriage as much as possible, but it's almost offensively coy:

John Kerry has a 96% Lifetime Score and a 100% score since 1995 from the Human Rights Campaign, yet he is being attacked in the press as bad for the LGBT community.

Well, let's see, why might this be? Could it be that his Toolkit for GLBT activists mentions his opposition to the FMA, but doesn't even mention his own stand on gay marriage? (Hint: he disapproves of it, at least on paper, though suddenly has become an ardent advocate of states rights.) If he's not taking flak in the media, he should be: at least Bush has a proper, credible belief on this subject.

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Amending the Constitution is a "credible belief" when Bush ran on states' rights? Come on.
For what it's worth, Kerry has said he favors estabilishing civil unions for same sex couples, that have all the same rights and protections of marriage. So, I guess just it becomes a matter of what you call it--marriage or civil union. To me it doesn't matter what it's called, so long as my family and I have the same rights and protections as any other family. Is he trying to have it both ways politically? Maybe. I honestly don't know if that's the case, or whether he's genuinely conflicted (as someone who has gay and lesbian friends, presumably) between believing in equality under the law and believing that marriage should only be between a man and a woman. Either way, Kerry's stance at least offers some middleground; some reasonable way of giving gay and lesbian families equal rights and protections under the law. Bush has simply come out against same sex marriage, without addressing the issue of equal treatment under the law. So, from my perspective, Kerry's position may not be perfect, but he's already miles ahead of Bush on the issue. From the perspective of a parntered, gay man who's also a parent, the choice between the two is something of a no brainer. At the very least Kerry's position is closer to equality for me and my family than Bush's is or will ever be. And while I'm nto a one issue voter, this issue is a huge consideration for me.
Its worse than that, since the very act of complaining of the other side's spin is itself an act of spin. Its like two naked men driving glass freight trains at each other. I'm tired of politicians whose arguments are so weak, that they prefer to complain of spin than to actually state their reasons for disagreement. Politicians and the press alike should come clean - a politican sho does not spin has one foot in their own political grave.
Anthony, is this really a surprise? Did you realistically expect more from the presidential blogs? Come on. You know better than that.
Jill: By your argument, the Civil Rights Amendments can't be passed. Besides, as has been argued before, frequently, marriage surpasses a 'state's rights' issue, simply because of the Full Faith and Credit clause. But hey, why let a one-line snide comment be disturbed by facts? Terrance: While I can understand your stance, the point is that Kerry's position isn't the problem I've got: it's his positioning. A pro-CU/anti-marriage stance is a moderate one. But what Kerry's website does is divide his constituency into 'communities,' each one of which gets a message that's exquisitely tailored to them. The GBLT section barely mentions--if at all--the statement that he's 'against' gay marriage, while other sections emphasize 'commitment to the family.' This isn't the only issue. It's great site design, just somewhat disheartening. Cardinal Sin/Monica: Yes, I did expect better than that. First of all, the Dean blog was better, if only marginally so. But also, I expected more simply because the medium is so much better suited for it. Passing off these half-assed excuses for information when the blogs and websites could be done so well... it's just disheartening.
Interesting thing about Dean was that it was a *campaign* blog rather than a candidate blog. Thus the campaign could be amazingly unspun in their role as cheerleaders, enthusiasm generators and otherwise full blown real voice communicators. It was fun. Dean the candidate existed at one remove, which allowed for a certain amount of spinning, but the community just picked the stuff up and ran with it in a genuine manner. Interestingly lots of the community didn't agree with him on protectionism and said he was only looking at it as a form of spin. Had things gone on longer it would have been interesting to see how this developed. Of course as I read it both candidates at the moment sort of favour protectionism in much the same way, and make all the right noises (if you're a steel worker worried about your job), but neither really believes in it, since someone on both teams actually grasps economics.
Heaven forbid Kerry emphasize different portions/aspects of his positions to different groups! Why, that's unheard of! You'd almost think we're talking about a politician here! Kerry, as noted, is pro civil unions, esp., as I understand, when they grant basically all the rights/benefits of marriage. At the same time, fearing rightwing demagoguing efforts to paint him as a homo-loving/weak-kneed/spineless/latte-sipping/out-of-touch-flag-burning-eastern-liberal-elitist, he wants to have a soundbite as not favoring "gay marriage," called by that name. My gosh, how unreasonable. And obviously, you'd be totally reasonable in expecting a politician, in creating portions of a website for different interest group constituencies, to really hype up & emphasize any defects or minor disagreements they might have. It's not like they're, you know, running a campagin or something, you know, where they try to attract voters. As much as you dislike Kerry, it's utterly irrational to denounce his campaign for failing to loudly inform potential supporters of disagreements he may have with them. That's your job (& the Bush campaign or Nader or whoever). The Kerry Campaign's job, on the other hand, is to highlight areas of agreement among potential supporters & gain their support. And, to the extent that you’re trying here to point out such disagreements to potential Kerry supporters, great. But you seem to be doing more than merely stating—hey, gay marriage supporters, your guy’s not exactly on the same page as you, & you might want to have a think about what that means—you’re claiming Kerry’s “disheartening” & lacks a credible or proper belief on the topic. Also, by the way, I'm totally sure that Pres Bush triumphantly boasts about the steel tariffs & agricultural subsidies when talking to free market groups, just like I'm absolutely positive that he boasts about the PATRIOT Act & the necessity of sneak & peak warrants (police can search your home when you're not there, and notify you....indefinitely, if ever) when he talks to libertarians (many of whom vehemently oppose said Act--two Idaho GOP senators are primary sponsors of the SAFE Act, which tweaks some small but troublesome portions of PATRIOT). I can’t imagine Karl Rove & the Bush campaign team trying to tailor Bush’s message to appeal to particular constituencies. You know, like declaring a week in October National Marriage protection week (or whatever it was called; i've linked to this on comments before). Sends a nice bland message to Middle/Purple America that Bush wants to promote family friendly policies or whatever. Of course, declaring such a week on the 5th anniversary of the gruesome death of Matthew Shepard sends an exquisitely tailored message to the Fred Phelps et al. of the world as well--we need not just to support & protect marriage generally, we need to protect it & exclude them nasty sinful deviants from it. Or, you know, declaring your opposition to Michigan’s affirmative action policies on January 15 (hint, that’s somebody’s birthday, and the brief was actually filed the next day, so it was a choice). Lastly, just to be perfectly clear, I'm not saying it's great that politicans just lie to people about what they support (you know, like claiming to favor tighter emission standards & then lowering them months after inauguration)--just that it's simply crazy to expect politicians to do the opposition's research for them & draw attention to positions that might put them at odds with groups of their supporters. It's not as tho Kerry's GLBT site loudly proclaims "KERRY PRO GAY MARRIAGE," while another portion says otherwise. He's not lying--he does oppose the FMA & does receive great ratings from HRC. You can’t seriously expect him, in communicating with the GLBT community, to trumpet the existence of what few differences there are between their positions & his (and a 100% score does suggest very few differences).
J: No: I claimed that it's disheartening that what is a credible or proper belief on the topic is not actually available on the website. Look, you're right about Bush on tariffs, etc. However, you'll note that the Bush site is not so exquisitely spun towards different constituencies. I'm willing to concede that this is probably a difference in competence--Kerry's is more marketing-led, while Bush's site hints at a technical bias to its developers--but it's still disheartening. My gosh, how unreasonable. And obviously, you'd be totally reasonable in expecting a politician, in creating portions of a website for different interest group constituencies, to really hype up & emphasize any defects or minor disagreements they might have. It's not like they're, you know, running a campagin or something, you know, where they try to attract voters. No. But you know, I sort of live in hope that a politician might have the guts to actually address the issue, instead of giving finely-spun candyfloss answers that don't address the questions. Look, if you think this is all good politics, fine. I personally don't like it done by either party, but Kerry is far more egregious on his website. (You could, of course, always use examples from Bush's website...but...erm...well...nope, none above. No links from J. If you want to talk about the tenor of the rest of Bush's campaign, fine, but please realize that the post did have a topic.) And, incidentally, affirmative action opponents have a tendency to emphasize the "I have a dream" speech of MLK and to claim his 'color blind' vision as their own. In this sense, your problem with Bush is entirely inapposite to what I'm talking about: the symbolism Bush was using was clear, his position was clear, and certainly not diluted for any group's benefit. You simply disagree with him, fair enough, but merely composing anti-Bush rants does not constitute a counterargument.
The point of the quick MLK/AA reference was addressing your point about delivering exquisitely tailored messages to different groups of supporters. I wasn't saying his position wasn't clear. I was saying he was making his position known to America generally--hey, i don't support this Michigan program--but I think he was also signalling something to certain other elements of his (& other GOP) support. These sorts of folks. But you do have a very good point--there are plenty of folks out there who oppose AA & really do, in their way, consider themselves the heirs of MLK & his color blind America. In any event, I still can't fathom a decent explanation for his Oct. 2003 marriage week decision... And I'm sorry for no links to the Bush site--work does call now & then ;). Hope you're enjoying your vacation & getting in some rest before your summer in Tokyo.

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