[Marxism] Kerry on the campaign trail

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Jul 22 07:17:40 MDT 2004


LA Weekly, July 23-29, 2004

15 Weeks and Counting
It’s Not Just the Stupid Economy
Can Kerry, soon to be anointed the anti-Bush, find a message to carry 
the Democrats to victory?
by Howard Blume

But can this man give a straight
answer to a probing question?

So how are things in Ohio?

With any luck for John Kerry, not too good.

Nurse Pat Beane presents a near perfect crucible for the 2004 race for 
president. It starts with her location, in Ohio’s Stark County, where 
voters have correctly called the last nine elections, back to Richard 
Nixon. She is watching, waiting, for the appearance of the Democratic 
presidential hopeful in the trussed-out girls’ gym of Perry High School, 
“Home of the Panthers,” where banners proclaim, “A Stronger Economy for 
America’s Workers.”

Beane voted for George Bush in 2000, tired of the moral turpitude she 
perceived in the Clinton White House. Bush impressed her as a man of 
decency and upright personal values. Four years later, she now says of 
Bush: “It’s not his character; it’s his choices.”

Kerry has a shot at her vote because of her unexpectedly less rosy 
world. She’s on strike with fellow nurses from Akron General Medical 
Center. The rising cost of health benefits could more than cancel out 
proposed raises. Pension-benefit reductions also are on the table.

“We’re taking care of people’s lives every day,” she says, “and we can’t 
even get decent health care.” Also, two grandchildren, who have serious, 
ongoing health problems, are about to lose government-subsidized health 
coverage in a round of budget cuts.

“And why should we go to another country and fight their war when 
there’s poor people in town?” adds the 56-year-old nurse. “My plan was 
to retire at 60. Now, it looks like I’m going to be working till I’m 70.”

She blames Bush.

So far, so good for the Democratic nominee.

(clip)

Kerry’s still on the hunt for themes to go along with his Economics 
Simplified. His campaign-trail closer has been “Let America be America 
again,” quoting from a Langston Hughes poem. So far, the tag hasn’t 
gotten as much notice as the “Two Americas” trademark of running mate 
Edwards.

In Phoenix, Kerry’s tailored message to Latinos focused on education and 
immigration reform. Kerry said he wants immigrants raised in the U.S. to 
qualify for lower “in-state” college-tuition rates. He also talked of 
immigration reform that reunites families. And how he wants to prevent 
the exploitation of immigrant workers who risk their lives to cross the 
border. All of these points drew standing ovations from the audience of 
about 5,000 at the National Council of La Raza.

La Raza is nonpartisan, but the event sure sounded like a Kerry rally. 
Bush turned down an invitation to appear, but Arizona Senator John 
McCain, the popular conservative Republican, addressed La Raza on a 
different day, inevitably leading to buzz about the fantasy Kerry-McCain 
ticket that could never be.

Kerry was in and out of Arizona’s 108-degree heat within six hours, but 
still managed to exhibit his less-than-deft side. First, his speech, 
originally billed as a Town Hall Q&A, went on so long that there was 
hardly time for questions. Second, he managed to alienate some Latinos 
in a brief post-speech interview, when he came out against driver’s 
licenses for Latinos who’d entered the country illegally.

The remark “undercut the pro-immigrant statements he made in his 
speech,” said La Raza spokeswoman Lisa Navarrete. “His campaign was 
hedging later, but he himself said he thought it wasn’t a good idea for 
security reasons. We argue that it is a good idea precisely for security 
reasons.”

A Kerry spokesperson explained the full Kerry nuance later. “He believes 
that this is an issue that should be left to the states,” said Fabiola 
Rodriguez-Ciampoli. “He said that personally he does not support it, but 
he won’t oppose a state’s decision. It’s a matter of jurisdiction.”

Which leads to a new trivia question. What do immigrant drivers and gay 
lovers tying the knot have in common? Answer: John Kerry’s against you, 
but won’t stop a state from being for you — or from being against you. 
Or maybe what Kerry’s really implying is that he secretly supports 
marrying-gays and driving-immigrants, but he can’t express that because 
it might cost him votes, and he’s pretty sure most gays and Latinos will 
have to vote for him, anyway.

Are we inspired yet?

Well, at least one inspired endorsement came from former Chrysler CEO 
Lee Iacocca, who fairly gushed about Kerry’s Web site during their 
backslapping joint appearance at San Jose State.

Iacocca emphasized his conversion by acknowledging that he’d once cut 
commercials touting George W. Bush. In fact, he named so many 
Republicans he’d voted for that one person in the audience called out: 
“We forgive you.”

Kerry, the top-of-the-ticket Yalie who made good grades, had no 
particular stumbles in Silicon Valley. At a San Jose fund-raiser, 
scientist Bill Lee, 49, found Kerry likably “funny” and “comfortable 
with his material.” Consultant Lynda Sanders, 52, originally from 
England, thought “He touched on the key points,” that he was “human, not 
a stuffed shirt at all.”

Clearly, the moneyed, liberal, cultural elite really are his kind of 
people. They didn’t need a cue card to cheer when Kerry pledged to be “a 
president who believes in science.” They ate up his proposed tax breaks 
for businesses that hire U.S. workers and government funding for 
high-risk, high-yield research. At one clubby San Jose shindig, Carole 
King sang a ditty before dashing off to a grandchild’s graduation.

full: http://www.laweekly.com/ink/04/35/15-blume.php

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