The Banality of Deception

Last weekend, I hosted my annual summer wine tasting. The evening was clear and cool, and a large crowd showed up for the event (the hit of the evening was a Kendall Jackson Sauvignon Blanc…which I personally didn’t like, but which nevertheless stole the show).

Given that many of my friends are liberals who enjoy a spirited debate, the conversation inevitably turned to politics.

In desperate, emotional terms, they extolled the virtues of John Kerry and lectured passionately about removing George W. Bush from the White House. They spoke darkly of Bush’s manipulation of America into the war in Iraq, and lamented his ties to Halliburton and other rapacious corporations. They quickly proceeded to a dissertation on John Ashcroft and his repressive, Patriot Act-style police state. They rounded out their criticism with a catastrophic assessment of Bush’s ruinous budget deficits.

In no time, they had worked themselves into a breathless hysteria.

At that point, I finally became annoyed.

"I agree with you about President Bush." I started, while imbibing an Australian Shiraz, "He did, in fact, drag our country into an unnecessary war in Iraq based on incorrect (and possibly intentionally fraudulent) assertions. And yes, Ashcroft is a dangerous fascist who is eroding our Constitutional rights."

They stared at me blankly, anticipating the worst.

"But how on earth can you say that Kerry is the man to fix this?" I inquired.

"Kerry voted for the war in Iraq, and he voted for the Patriot Act too. Isn’t he somewhat culpable for those disgraces? He also says that he is going to send even more troops to Iraq. And his spending proposals are even more insane than Bush’s."

As they slowly lost their color, I continued, "And as for John Ashcroft…however much I may dislike the man, he is only the Attorney General. He doesn’t create the laws; congress does. His job is to enforce them. Frankly, Kerry is more blameworthy for these abominations than Ashcroft is."

Something wasn’t adding up. Almost every reason why these folks hated Bush could also be said of Kerry.

It was then that they began to glance from side-to-side in a conspiratorial fashion. They proceeded to lay out the scheme in whispered tones:

"You have to understand," they pleaded, "After 9/11, the yahoos out in Middle America were in a bloodthirsty, hyper-patriotic frenzy. Kerry had no choice. He had to vote for the war…and for the Patriot Act too. But he doesn’t really support either. And if elected, he will take care of both of them. Ideally, we would rather have had an anti-war candidate, but such a person would have been smeared by the Republicans as an anti-American flag-burner. He never could have won. So we had to nominate a guy like Kerry who is a decorated veteran and who voted for the Iraq War."

After listening to this for a few more minutes, I "lost it."

"Are you trying to tell me that this is all a scam? The Democrats are attempting to u2018pull one over’ on the American people? Kerry lacked the courage to stand up for what he believed in, so he supported Bush’s march into a pointless war…for political expediency? "

They nodded meekly.

I raged on.

"At least Bush actually believes in what he did, however absurd and misguided it may have been. I have no doubt that in his small mind; he has total belief in the righteousness of his actions. Kerry, on the other hand, knew it was wrong but was too cynically manipulative or cowardly to stand up and oppose it."

"That is a rather harsh way of looking at it," they retorted.

I stared in disbelief, "The Democratic Party had a golden opportunity to boldly fight for the future of America. They could have nominated someone who would make passionate arguments on avoiding needless wars, encouraging fiscal responsibility, and in defense of our precious Constitutional rights. Instead, they nominated a guy who timidly (or cynically) supported numerous disastrous policies as part of a scheme to win the presidency."

"And frankly, I’m not even convinced that Kerry is as opposed to Iraq and the Patriot Act as his supporters claim. The Democratic elites are every bit as enthralled with the ideology of globalism and world domination as the Republicans are. Any disagreements that Kerry may have had with the invasion probably consisted more of opposition to this particular escapade than of a genuine belief in non-interventionism as a general principle. And since when has the American Left believed in the Constitution? From what I’ve seen, they have spent most of the past four or five decades undermining that document in pursuit of a Leviathan nanny-state."

"So Kerry was nominated in a cynical ploy to deceive a critical mass of the American electorate? In so doing, the Democrats have not only missed an opportunity to fight for numerous important principles, they have also seriously impaired the effort to remove the neocons from power."

"At the end of the day, I sincerely doubt that this scam will work. Eventually, the American people will see through the façade and begin to examine the real Kerry. If the Democrats chose him for his war record (at the expense of actual convictions), then what happens if his war record is exposed as a sham (as certainly appears to be happening, given the recent revelations from the swift boat veterans)?"

"The Democrats will be left with a candidate standing for nothing except a pale, fraudulent imitation of the neoconservative policies of global domination…and we will be left with four more years of Ashcroft, Cheney, Wolfowitz, and Rumsfeld."

With that, I strode back to the bar for another Shiraz.

What was there left to say?