Wednesday, August 04, 2004


It occurs to me that in some ways choosing between two politicians in an election isn't a whole lot different from choosing between two types of meat. Both are bad for you in a lot of ways, and you don't want to know where they've been or where they've come from to wind up on your grocery shelf, but damn it, you need the meat.

In this presidential contest we have a rancid ham that is clearly bad for the country as a whole (George W. Bush) and we have a pound of Grade B ground beef with too much fat (John Kerry). We could have had filet mignon (Howard Dean), but he's not to the tastes of most of the public who wouldn't have known what to do with him anyway. We could have had a nice veggie steak (Dennis Kucinich) who would have been the best thing for us but people fear vegetarian products generally and things that are really good for us in particular. So it's ham or hamburger, meat that's diseased to the core versus meat that might not always be palatable, but there you go.

Kerry once worked with VP Dick Cheney on covering up the numbers of POW's left behind in Vietnam. (See this week's Village Voice article by Stanley Blumenthal.) Kerry also has no real desire to end the occupation in Iraq, although at least he has an exit strategy. Bush, of course, ensures that every day, every country in the world hates us a little bit more while he enriches his cronies, destroys the environment and sells out our civil rights (particularly those of women and those darker hued than him). As Kurt Vonnegut was fond of writing, so it goes.

Still, the choice is clear. Since, in our current system of democracy, writing in a candidate or voting for a third party candidate is like spitting into a hurricane, we are left standing in the butcher's shop staring at our two, lonely pieces of bad meat. We may despise a system that constantly feeds us politicians that we can't embrace or be completely proud of, but when the choice is between someone who has no respect or love of this nation's core value system at all and someone who at least gives the majority of us a fighting chance to salvage those values while raising our national prestige, then I would say, for God's sake, choose the beef. It might be hard to swallow, but at least it won't kill you.