I'm Getting Cynical

Lots of people are saying that Kerry's campaign is all but over. I don't know if I believe that, but one thing is for sure. The Democrats made the conscious decision to take the high road this campaign, starting with their carefully controlled convention, hoping to set an example for the other party to do the same. And the Republicans have taken this more as an opportunity than a positive precedent to follow. That is what makes me sad. I don't know any other word for it than cynical when your opponent nobly uses his convention's earlier placement to try to direct the political dialogue toward the things it should be focused on - the candidates' merits and the future, not on negative campaigning, character assassination and slander - and you not only don't follow the lead but devote a repulsive amount of your convention to doing just that. And the fact that the Republicans' tactics seem to be working by increasing Bush's popularity while decreasing Kerry's makes the whole thing even more repulsive. Republicans say that Kerry milks his Vietnam service, arguing it's really something that happened thirty years ago and shouldn't weigh on his level of qualification for the presidency. The argument that military service doesn't make one any more fit to be commander in chief is a whole other debate, and certainly not a closed one. Yet they didn't hesitate to bring to attention isolated quotes taken out of context which Kerry made thirty years ago trying to call his strength on defense into question, as if they were more relevant (about the UN giving the U.S. authority to go to war). This is not just negative campaigning, it's deception.

The fact that Kerry has so many areas in which Bush is quite vulnerable to negative campaigning tactics (such as questions about his guard service, his "flip-flopping" on the intelligence director proposal), and that he hasn't addressed them seriously undermines my confidence in his campaign's competence and judgement. As many people have been saying, at this point, any further decline in the polls is Kerry's own fault.

Whatever happens in November, it will be the American people's fault if they continue to let this kind of discourse to be effective in politics. And only they can render it ineffective and thus raise the level of political discourse beyond the utterly cynical state which it is currently at.

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