How the world's only superpower chooses the leader of the free world.
The publication of an old photo of Jane Fonda and John Kerry at an anti-Vietnam War rally is raising questions about the antiwar activities of the Democratic presidential front-runner.
– CNN.com, February 12.
“Dentist doesn't remember treating Bush,”
– Headline in Omaha World-Herald, February 13.
Thirty-plus years ago, when John Kerry was showing up at anti-war rallies without checking to see whether they were contaminated by the presence of Jane Fonda, and George Bush either was or wasn’t showing up at the dentist’s office in Alabama as part of his National Guard assignment, I was already an adult male, no longer very young, and ten years into the profession I am still practicing.
I did and said some dumb things back then. I also did and said some things that weren’t dumb but other people thought they were. I was just a public enough person that individuals in our town had their opinions of me and my behavior. Some may remember me with anger if they think of me at all; others with gratitude. But whether with gratitude or anger, they are not going to ruin what I do now because of what I did then. That’s the way it is in a grown-up world.
Presidential campaigns aren’t conducted in a grown-up world; at least, they’re not reported that way. The stories we print make it sound as though we choose the leader of the free world by indulging ourselves with playground gossip.
So what if Jane Fonda and John Kerry had a shared interest thirty years ago that brought them together at a rally? So what if the President were not as diligent a Guardsman as he could have been thirty years ago? Kerry has now been a senator for eighteen years, and Bush has been President for four. If the President doesn’t manage reelection, it will be because of his record as President, not because of his dental records from the early seventies. Whether Senator Kerry wins or loses depends on his public accomplishments and on how well he speaks for himself. Jane Fonda won’t be the reason.
Neither story deserved any press at all.
There are some grown-up issues, though, that determine whether this campaign will be conducted by grown-ups:
We are part of a
superpower where we haven’t learned to live within our means
Where the government appears intent on bankrupting itself
Where pre-emptive war has become a reality
Where we haven’t learned how to deal with desperate privation even within our borders
Where the Middle East is about to explode with ethnic and religion tension
That’s where the issues are, that’s where the election battle must be fought, and that’s what the media should be reporting.