Same Shit Different Asshole!
by Kim Petersen

February 19, 2004

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The Democrats had a chance to elect a presidential candidate who was truly against war. No, not Howard Dean, he was a political opportunist who courted the progressive vote. He came out against the Persian Gulf Slaughter under the command of President Bush Jr. but he was not against the continuance of the occupation. On the other hand there was a candidate who embodied a progressive platform on almost every position: Dennis Kucinich. Kucinich opposes war to the extent of establishing a Department of Peace and a plan to end the US of Iraq, advocates increased democratization through political reform and an end to money politics, opposes the death penalty, is for normalizing ties with Cuba, favors universal health care, and sides with the worker. Kucinich pledges to repeal NAFTA, increase the minimum wage, and vows if the private sector won’t produce jobs then the public sector will.

While favoring a multilateral approach, Kucinich, however, is fence-straddler on the fateful triangle of US, Israel, and the Palestinian state. While calling for the security of both peoples and recognizing the rights to statehood for both peoples, Kucinich errs in equating the suffering of the occupiers with that of the occupied people. The Jewish state was carved out through ethnic cleansing and racism; it is difficult to argue that a state can rightfully come about through such means. Nevertheless Kucinich is likeliest playing to a political audience, as opposing the Israeli lobby has been a death knell for many a US politician.

So why did Kucinich’s campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination never really get off the ground? Kucinich also took on the media. He proposed halting the monopolizing trend in the media and returning the airwaves back to the people. In furtherance of democratization, Kucinich proposed providing free airtime to candidates for political office. In other words, Kucinich had the balls to take on the corporate establishment in business, politics, and the media. Thus it was not surprising to hear ABC Nightline’s ungracious host Ted Koppel belittle Kucinich as a “vanity candidate.” Kucinich eloquently responded, “I want the American people to see where media takes politics in this country. We start talking about endorsements, now we’re talking about polls and then talking about money. When you do that you don't have to talk about what's important to the American people.” Kucinich’s on-air embarrassment of Koppel spurred ABC’s shameful response to immediately pull its reporter covering the Kucinich campaign. With little media coverage and an ignorant electorate Kucinich never really had a chance.

Dean’s candidacy befell the same treacherous fate as Kucinich. Dean was actually an outsider within the Democratic Party, who also had the temerity to challenge corporate media interests. As a result he was savagely attacked in the corporate media and when the damage was done, his campaign coverage was basically abandoned.

Although John Edwards remains in the race (as does Kucinich), John Kerry so far carries the banner as the to-be-anointed Democratic candidate for president.

John Kerry ostensibly has the approval of much of the Democrat caucus. Yet many political pundits maintain that there is little difference between the two contending parties -- they are mainly different shades of pro-corporate political parties. President Bush and his neoconservative cabal, despite their voter-defeated, Supreme Court-handed victory in 2000, have acted as if they had an absolute mandate for a hard swing to the Right. Since Bush represents to some an electoral aberration that must be eliminated at all costs, they urge that voters rally behind whoever the Democratic standard bearer is to defeat Bush. It is therefore incumbent upon voters to investigate just how much Kerry is distinguishable from Bush.

Obviously there is the distinction that Kerry didn’t dodge the war in Vietnam and Bush did. It is hoped that a choice of president wouldn’t boil down to which one served or didn’t serve in an ideologically-driven slaughter of Southeast Asians.

Mark Hand makes the case that choosing Kerry over Bush will result in replacing the ideology of the neoconservatives with that of “progressive internationalism.” This ideology is merely a milder version of the unilateralist neoconservative agenda. That Kerry holds this ideology is evinced by his statement straight out of the New Democratic manifesto calling for Democrats to respect “the tough-minded strategy of international engagement and leadership forged by Wilson and Roosevelt in the two world wars and championed by Truman and Kennedy in the cold war.” (1)

Kerry also plays into Bush administration war strategist Donald Rumsfeld’s Old and New Europe distinction. Hand throws doubt on Kerry’s internationalist intentions as revealed by his citation of Kerry:

I hope by the time you read this book that the UN has been usefully employed as a partner in the reconstruction of Iraq and that Jacques Chirac has ceased his foolish rebellion against the very idea of the Atlantic Alliance. America, which has always shown magnanimity in victory, should in turn meet repentant Europeans halfway, not ratchet up the badgering unilateralism that fed European fears in the first place.

Hand wistfully asks, “John, could you elaborate on what sins the Europeans committed for which they must repent?”

Bush who has used constitution-busting legislation and repression to silence dissent seems to have a partner in Kerry who also takes on the anti-war movement. Said Kerry, “I could never agree with those in the antiwar movement who dismissed our troops as war criminals or our country as the villain in the drama.” Supposedly Kerry is sympathetic to Bush Sr. who once declared, “I will never apologize for the United States of America -- I don't care what the facts are.” It seems Kerry would never apologize for the actions of the US either.

Kerry pontificated, “As a veteran of both the Vietnam War and the Vietnam protest movement, I say to both conservative and liberal misinterpretations of that war that it’s time to get over it and recognize it as an exception, not as a ruling example, of the U.S. military engagements of the twentieth century.” Well, the ongoing occupation of Iraq conspicuously points out that Vietnam (and let’s not forget to add Cambodia and Laos to that undeclared US war) was not an exception.

Concludes Hand, “The only noteworthy difference between the two groups battling for power in Washington is that the neocons are willing to pursue their imperial ambitions in full view of the international community, while the progressive internationalists prefer to keep their imperial agenda hidden behind the cloak of multilateralism.”

Elsewhere Kerry’s Jewish pedigree was flapping in the wind for all to see as divulged by his comments on his trip to Israel. (2)

Kerry iterates the brazenly false canard that Israel is “the only true democracy in the Middle East,” and therefore, “Americans must be the truest and best kind of ally.” [italics added] Certainly the indigenous Palestinians have no electoral input into life under occupation while the foreign usurpers of Palestinian land enjoy full voting rights as Israelis.  What kind of “true democracy” is built on territorial grab brought about through ethnic cleansing anyway?

Kerry says that Americans “must be committed” [italics added] to support the Zionist dream of Theodor Herzl of achieving “the greatest power of Israel.” Why?

Speaking further in support for the scofflaw state of Israel, Kerry pleads, “In this difficult time we must again reaffirm we are enlisted for the duration--and reaffirm our belief that the cause of Israel must be the cause of America--and the cause of people of conscience everywhere.” [italics added] What can be more unconscionable than backing a group of Europeans who have forcibly and lethally rid the land of most its indigenous people, persecute, torture, and kill the remaining people, and wage war against neighboring countries in defiance of international law and the international community except for its superpower benefactor? (3) Together the US and Israel often reject the world consensus and operate outside international law inviting scornful reproach. There is a seeming intent upon extending the apogean boundary of evil.

As the CounterPunch editors astutely point out, “[T]here’s scarcely a dime’s worth of difference between the major political candidates of both parties on the life-and-death issues of our time.”

As horrible as Bush is, the unthinking outright rejection of third party candidates is questionable. There is a photo on the home page of the Dissident Voice website featuring a banner with Herren Bush and Hitler. Under is the caption that might equally well apply to a photo of Kerry and Bush: Same shit different asshole!

Kim Petersen is a writer living in Nova Scotia, Canada. He can be reached at: kimpetersen@gyxi.dk.


1) Mark Hand, “‘It’s Time to Get Over It’: Kerry Tells Anti-War Movement to Move On,” CounterPunch, 18 February 2004: http://www.counterpunch.org/hand02182004.html

2) John Kerry, “Another President for the Occupation? ‘The Cause of Israel is the Cause of America,’” CounterPunch, 17 February 2004:

) Noam Chomsky, Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel and The Palestinians (South End Press Classics, 1983,1999).

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