Friday, August 20, 2004


By William Fisher

I am sick to death of meaningless election-year rhetoric that insults the intelligence of American voters.

According to a new poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, the 2004 election will be the first since the Vietnam era in which foreign affairs and national security issues are a higher priority than the economy.

So why are we talking about Vietnam? Why, when our nation faces huge problems and an uncertain future, are we fixated on a war that happened thirty years ago? Does anyone really care about what Messrs. Bush and Kerry did or didn’t do during Vietnam?

Evidently, the geniuses who manage their political campaigns care – or think the voters care. Well, they must have a way below low opinion of all of us. Or the certain knowledge that it’s easier to create mass hysteria than to discuss real issues or propose real solutions to problems.

The TV talking heads tell us the parties are simply trying to ‘energize’ their respective bases. But I don’t think the professional ‘electorati’ should be all that certain that their endless Vietnam drumbeat will ‘energize’ anything. In fact, it may well have unintended consequences: It may turn off reasonable members of both major parties, and further reinforce the already widely-held view that public service is a sham and that candidates will say and do anything to get elected.

We shouldn’t be choosing our president because he’s good at ’gotcha’ politics. Because once in office, gotcha won’t play. Who will best deal with terrorism, homeland security, Iraq, Afghanistan, nuclear proliferation in Iran, Israel and North Korea, health care costs, job creation, our country’s relationships with its allies, and its place in the world?

These are the issues we should demand that presidential candidates address. The longer we permit them and their advisors to change the subject to Vietnam and other irrelevancies, the less likely we are to vote at all.