The ongoing flap about Kerry’s service in Vietnam is an all too typical example of the media (and others) focusing on triviality and completely missing the bigger picture. Were there bullets flying? Did Kerry bleed on his Purple Heart?
The bottom line is that Kerry did serve in Vietnam. And if he didn’t get shot at in this particular instance, there’s no doubt he was shot at other times. Those boats sailed dangerous waters. Even if he exaggerated the danger on some report 35 years ago, the idea that this should influence today’s election is ludicrous.
But unfortunately our political system is all too often based on the big lie and distraction – shout a lie long and loud enough and people start to care and to believe it.
Or how about flip-flops?
“Flip-flop” is a common insult in this political season. I think it’s overtaken “liberal” as a dirty word (in part because more Democrats are willing to stand up and proudly claim the term, a common schoolyard technique for shutting up a bully). Could the same approach work for “flip-flop?” Absolutely. Why, I myself flip-flopped recently. Just a few months ago I explained why I had no interest in blogging. And here I am, blogging furiously. Flip-flop is a childish way of saying “changing your mind.” If someone learns something new, and has the courage to acknowledge that their previous opinion was wrong and to adopt a stance based on their new knowledge – that’s something to be admired, not condemned.
Is there hope?
They say that California leads the nation, and a recent flap with our Governor gives hope. You remember him, governor Schwarznegger. Just yesterday we were the laughing stock of the world with an open ended recall election that had 135 people running for the office. They laughed harder when we chose an ex-body builder movie star with a thick accent. But guess what – most Californians are absolutely thrilled with the job he’s been doing. But there’s one recent incident that gives true hope for the future.
The legislature was in the midst of their usual annual deadlock on passing a budget. In frustration, Governor Schwarznegger called those who refused to act “girlie men.” The media went into a frenzy: he was sexist, he was homophobic, he was….
Meanwhile, the reaction of most of the population seemed to be “yeah, he was funny. Now pass the d#*# budget!”
In other words, by and large the electorate did not buy into the media distraction, and stayed focused, maybe even appreciated the humor of the Governor using a phrase that was originally used on Saturday Night Live to parody him. And we got our budget.