No Ordinary Election

By Chris Floyd-
February 25, 2004.

"The rule of law is dead. "

  This is no ordinary election. It's emergency surgery -- a desperate operation in the field, using whatever comes to hand to keep the patient from dying.

Last week we noted that the American mainstream media has finally starting taking a closer look at some of the manifold lies, crimes and misdemeanors of the Oval Oligarch -- albeit after three years of happily gulping down tons of steaming sewage from the Bushist PR factory. This welcome development has been driven largely by Bush's nosedive in the polls, which convinced the media mandarins that they will not necessarily lose market share by practising journalism rather than genuflection.

But there is of course another factor at work: the emergence of Senator John Kerry as the likely Democratic nominee. Kerry is the quintessential "safe pair of hands," with a solid record of hauling heavy lumber for elite interests -- especially elite media interests. His new prominence -- helped in no small part by kid-gloves media coverage while his opponents were raked with withering fire -- made it safe to give Bush a little bruising. For the mandarins, it's a win-win situation: Replacing one multimillionaire Skull-and-Bones Yalie aristocrat with another is not likely to upset too many profitable applecarts or usher in a more egalitarian society.

Check out the lumber. Kerry voted for Bill Clinton's destruction of the United States' already-anaemic welfare system, plunging millions of the poor into greater hardship. He cast a crucial vote -- this time overriding a Clinton veto -- to gut safeguards on the securities market, green-lighting Enron, WorldCom and other corporate predators into a frenzy of unprecedented global corruption. He was a staunch supporter of the liberty-shredding PATRIOT Act and voted to give Bush a blank check to invade Iraq whenever he wanted. Although he now repudiates those latter two positions, which have grown increasingly unpopular, the security organs and war profiteers know that Kerry was there for them when it counted -- when actual votes were on the line.

Finally -- and most importantly for the mandarins -- Kerry was a major backer of the 1995 Telecommunications Deregulation Act and its successors, which cleared the way for the mega-mergers that have devoured the U.S. media and reduced the nation's once-vibrant cacophony of contending voices to a narrow drone of corporatized drivel. But then Kerry has a vested interest in corporatized drivel: He and his wife have up to $47 million in telecommunications stocks, the Center for Public Integrity reports.

Indeed, Kerry has vested interests, usually in the millions of dollars, in almost every aspect of U.S. commerce. Finance, media, electronics, food, energy, health care, agriculture -- the list is staggering in its reach. It will be practically impossible for him to take any action as president that will not have a substantial impact on his family assets. These are conservatively estimated at more than $550 million, dwarfing the combined fortunes of Bush and Cheney -- the most bloated pair of plutocrats ever to rule the country. A Bush-Kerry contest will offer about as much democratic authenticity as Crassus and Pompey bribing their way to consulships in the death throes of the Roman Republic.

(Incidentally, "alternative" candidate Ralph Nader -- a multimillionaire with investments in everything from oil to arms -- is not exactly a disinterested god of demos himself.)

Of course, there are differences between the two main contenders. Kerry, as both war hero and war protester, wasn't a physical and moral coward in his youth as Bush was. And although he would doubtless dance with the ones that brung him -- the corporate interests of which he is both legislative facilitator and major stakeholder -- Kerry would wage a somewhat more limited war on the poor than the crazed kleptomaniacs now in command.

He would also roll back some of Bush's worst environmental despoilments and purge the swarm of religious extremists that Bush has planted throughout the government. But Kerry is not likely to seriously curtail the Pentagon's growing imperial reach -- 700 bases in 130 countries and counting -- or substantially alter the 50-year bipartisan thrust of U.S. foreign policy: global dominance, by force if necessary, for the benefit of a few special interests. The Bush Regime is indeed the most hideous apotheosis of this policy -- but it is hardly the originator.

And yet, however narrow the gap between the Massachusetts Crassus and the two-bit Texas Pompey, that sliver of light is crucial. For this is no ordinary election. It's emergency surgery -- a desperate operation in the field, using rusty knives, broken pens, bits of trash, whatever comes to hand, to keep the patient from dying. The first, most vital task is to cut out the Bushist canker.

Noam Chomsky, an old-style patriot bitterly scorned across the political spectrum for his dogged insistence that the United States live up to its own ideals, put the case well in a recent interview: "The current incumbents may do severe, perhaps irreparable, damage if given another hold on power. In a very powerful state, small differences may translate into very substantial effects on the victims, at home and abroad. It is no favor to those who are suffering, and may face much worse ahead, to overlook these facts.

"Keeping the Bush circle out means holding one's nose and voting for some Democrat, but that's not the end of the story. The basic culture and institutions of a democratic society have to be constructed, in part reconstructed, and the defeat of an extremely dangerous clique in the presidential race is only one very small component of that."

Wise words. Kerry might be a rusty knife, but the life of a patient in extremis takes precedence over questions of hygiene. When the worst is past, then judge the knife -- discard it if necessary -- and get on with the work of restoring the Republic.


John F. Kerry: Income and Assets

Center for Public Integrity, Feb. 17, 2004

George W. Bush: Income and Assets

Center for Public Integrity, Feb. 17, 2004

The Buying of the President 2004

Center for Public Integrity, Feb. 17, 2004

Who Gives the Most Money

Center for Public Integrity, Feb. 17, 2004

Kerry Carries Water for Top Donor

Center for Public Integrity, Feb. 17, 2004

The Two John Kerrys

LA Weekly, Feb. 6, 2004

Media Chiefs Back Kerry Campaign

The Guardian, Feb. 10, 2004

John Kerry: Media Darling

Dissident Voice, Feb. 12, 2004

Kerry and War

Common Dreams, Feb. 13, 2004

Nader is Likely to Run Again, Despite Advice of Many

Detroit Free Press, Feb. 14, 2004

Dean Supporters Face Retribution

New Republic, Feb. 13, 2004

Vietnam Veterans Against the War: John Kerry Statement

U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, April 23, 1971

America's Empire of Bases

Common Dreams, Jan. 15, 2004

Power Rangers

The New Yorker, Feb. 2, 2004

The Scourge of Militarism

Nation Institute, Sept. 9, 2003

The Costs of Empire: Starting With a Solid Base

Asia Times, Feb. 13, 2004

The Cost of Empire: Counting the Dollars and Cents

Asia Times, Feb. 14, 2004

The Militarization of U.S. Foreign Policy

Foreign Policy in Focus, February 2004

In Capital, Business and Politics Firmly Entwined

USA Today, July 31, 2002

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