The Poisoned Chalice

By Cockburn, Alexander | The Nation, December 6, 2004 | Go to article overview
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The Poisoned Chalice


Cockburn, Alexander, The Nation


At least when Duffy's Circus left Youghal there'd be piles of dung from the elephant and the horses. The Kerry campaign leaves nothing of fertilizing potential, not a single creative idea, only grim advisories like not running any nominee from the Northeast in 2008, and we all know the probable life span of that piece of useful advice.

How quickly the caravan moves on! The Brookings crowd sadly pull their resumes from the fax machines. John Kerry resumes his ghostlike sojourn in the Senate, where he might apply himself to improving his attendance record, the worst in the upper chamber. He missed no less than 76 percent of the Senate Intelligence Committee's public hearings over the course of his eight-year tenure on that committee. Teresa returns to full-time work at the Heinz Foundation, dispensing money to neoliberal environmental groups, though, alas, she has had to dispense with the wise counsel of Ken Lay, formerly of Enron, who adorned her board of advisers until last year.

Pockets of Kerrycrats fight on, like Japanese soldiers on atolls in the Pacific. No doubt there are 527s out there, still nourishing themselves on the money of men like Soros. There's even been some talk about Kerry keeping his hat in the presidential ring, but we shouldn't take that too seriously. Over the next few months his horselike visage will fade in the murk of memory.

The political consultants pocket their retainer fees, their 10 or 15 percent commissions on hundreds of millions' worth of campaign ads, and march on to the next electoral rendezvous. Before the election a profile of Kerry's manager, Bob Shrum, disclosed that he stood to make $5 million out of the 2004 presidential campaign, win or lose.

The truly bad news is that the 9/11 nuts have relocated to Stolen Election. My inbox is awash with their ravings. People who have spent the past three years sending me screeds establishing to their own satisfaction that George Bush personally ordered the attacks on the twin towers and that Dick Cheney vectored the planes in are now pummeling me with data on the time people spent in line waiting to vote in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, and how the Diebold machines are all jimmied. As usual, the conspiracy nuts think plans of inconceivable complexity worked at 100 percent efficiency, that Murphy's law was once again in suspense and that 10,000 co-conspirators are all going to keep their mouths shut.

Here's what my colleague at The Nation Justin Taylor tells me, re the much-ballyhooed youth vote: The consensus now seems to be that the youth vote spiked upward about 9 percent, a considerable lift from one election to another. But voter turnout as a whole went up by about the same proportion, so while youth did get more involved, they did not get more involved than anyone else. "With regard to John Kerry and the youth vote," Justin advises me, "there is good reason to believe that while the young were probably more likely to go blue this time, there is a rapidly expanding Republican Youth faction that likely voted in more consistent--if not larger--numbers than the Kerry crowd.

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