from the most recent nyt horserace article:
"Jim Rush, 57, an independent voter from Texas, said: 'His testimony came after some heavy fighting over there, and you wonder where his real patriotism is, Is it self or is it country? It points to his basic character, and I'll just leave it at that.'"
other voters apparently maintained that kerry, not the bush camp, had "made a big issue" of his vietnam service.
most disturbingly, majorities believed that bush had mishandled iraq, the economy, and a wide variety of other issues. and nevertheless, half of them (i.e., fifty percent of the sample) stated that they would vote for him. they questioned kerry's ability to respond to international incidents. they believed that kerry had not stated any affirmative reason that he should be president.
i'm trying to logic through this. what's the explanatory variable? what makes people who are less well off than they were four years ago -- and who KNOW IT -- willing to give this man the benefit of the doubt? is it september 11? is it the uncontrollable fear so expertly created by the bush administration following september 11? those are my best guesses so far: external shock followed by artificially created shock pause shock pause shock pause shock pause etc. creates neverending rally-round-the-flag. where by "flag" we mean "incompetent president."
hence the lame-sounding arguments about kerry's patriotism. the neverending expectation of danger has redefined "patriotism" as "doing what they tell you and never asking questions," which likewise redefines kerry's senate testimony as practically treason.
i feel like i live in a different country than i always thought i did -- and certainly in a different country than most of the folks quoted in the article. i thought we were all mostly aware that vietnam was a bad idea, and that american soldiers, under some pretty awful circumstances, did some pretty awful things. i thought that people who spoke out against injustice were heroes, not villains. i thought that people who lied and stole and generally bungled got fired, not promoted.