Too Many Cameras and Not Enough Truth: John Kerry Dodges the Press
by Joshua Frank
Seems that when some innocents die
All we can offer them is a page in some magazine
Too many cameras and not enough truth
--The Police (Driven to Tears)
Democratic Presidential nominee John F. Kerry seems to be evading any confrontation with the media. According to journalists who have been tracking Kerry along the campaign trail, the senator has not held a formal press conference since August 9, some two weeks before the last time President Bush met with the press.
When Israel ended a six-month lull in violence by striking a suspected Hamas training camp in Gaza and killing 14 with a US-built Apache helicopter in response to the September 2 suicide bombings, Kerry did not take one question. Nor did he speak with the press core when Israeli occupation forces destroyed two large apartment buildings south of Gaza in Khan Younis, leaving nearly one-hundred Palestinians homeless. But perhaps Kerry's most appalling act of silence came on September 7 when the number of US soldiers killed in Iraq reached 1,000 and Kerry declined to chat with the media.
The Washington Post quoted The New York Times' reporter Jodi Wilgoren, who is following Kerry along his campaign, as saying of Kerry's elusiveness: "I think it's ridiculous. There are a lot of things happening in the country and the world, and the public has legitimate questions they'd like to ask. I don't know what he's afraid of. He's criticized the president for not giving enough press conferences. And now we face daily arm-wrestling to ask a question."
Kerry is seeking the position of the nation's top public servant, yet he will not step behind a microphone unless the script from which he reads is pre-fabricated. Much like Al Gore in 2000, Kerry, we're quickly discovering, is wholly uninspired, dull, and brash. His platform and campaign, manufactured by his party's elites, is a sure loser.
Of course, it didn't have to be that way. After all, Bush and company have practically handed Kerry and the Democrats a bushel of scandals for their campaign's inferno: Richard Clarke's disclosures of how Bush failed our national security. The deceit of the neo-cons, as they sold the country on war with Iraq. The outlandish deficit. The tax-cuts for the rich. The Enron debacle. Halliburton's handouts. The burgeoning gap between the rich and poor. And the list goes on.
But the Democrats, as we know, have yet to seize the ever-shrinking window of opportunity, enabling Bush to hold a fairly healthy lead as he continues to steam forward in the polls. Some Democrats see it as a harbinger of things to come on Election Day. With long-time critics of Florida Governor Jeb Bush going so far as to praise the younger Bush for his governing aptitude during the tri-fecta of hurricanes whacking the region, many expect Bush to easily secure the critical swing state this time around.
All of this aside, Kerry may still be doomed. After all, he has yet to distinguish himself from Bush on issues ranging from the war in Iraq to the Patriot Act to the No Child Left Behind bill, Kerry has sided with the Republicans time and again.
It is time for Kerry to answer up. Simply playing the role of the "anybody" in "Anybody but Bush" will not win this election. "Anybody" must also offer an alternative. But as progressives know all too well, that is not the Democrats' game plan. They'd rather lose than speak the truth. Let alone answer questions in front of a microphone.
Joshua Frank is the author of the forthcoming book, Left Out! How Liberals Did Bush's Work for Him, to be published by Common Courage Press.