Monday, October 11, 2004

I was just reading this comment from someone at the dailykos, the person said something like, 'if Kerry is still unable to capitalise on the utter incompetance of Bush at this stage of the game, he doesn't deserve the presidency', or something to the effect. And I thought to myself, hmm... reminds me a little of Optimus Prime. Optimus is a man (robot) with a huge dilemma. He's the leader of the Autobots. Being a leader means you need some qualities befitting of a leader in a cartoon series. He needs to set the bar. Because he's tall, I reckon he has no choice but to set the bar pretty high. He is therefore constrained by his own moral considerations. Why on earth did he not finish off Megatron in that episode? Why did he let him go? From the point of view of the scriptwriters, this is necessary for the show to go on. From Prime's point of view, it's the only thing he can do if he wants to sleep soundly at night. It's called taking the moral high ground, even if it means the cartoon series would continue as a result, with Megatron still alive to fight another day. John Kerry is similar in many respects. This guy embodies the qualities of a leader utterly different from the usual politician. The planners for the Democratic Convention had watched too much of Transformers and decided they would take the moral high ground. They would end the cycle of trash politics by sticking to the issues. No more attacking the Repugnanticans. Not even mentioning the word 'Bush' in their speeches. America would embrace their sense of nobility, and they would win a landslide in November. The cartoon scriptwriter forgot to tell them cartoons don't necessarily reflect real life. A few weeks later at the Repugnanticans' Convention, the mood was entirely opposite to the positive message that the Democrats brought to the table. Full of anger, hate, and fear, Bush and Cheney attacked Kerry's character relentlessly. A 'plausible deniability entity' attacked Kerry's Vietnam record. It was dirty and disgusting. Kerry's advisors' position was not to respond to those attacks. The mainstream media and the citizens would see through the ploy and ignore it. That didn't happen. Ratings for Kerry sank so much most predicted Bush have already won the election. Are Americans so shallow? Evidently they are. But one consolation is that everyone can be shallow, even you and I, when push comes to shove. (When push comes to shove meaning that the political spinners have an upper and subconscious hand in the perceptions of the voters.) So the Kerry people regrouped. Changed the advisors. Strengthened their talking points. Kerry totally demolished Bush in the first debate. In the second debate, he had chances to attack even more, but he held back. Why did he hold back? As Prime would say, "Because I'm an honourable person." Can an honourable person (or at least someone who seems to be remotely honourable) win the White House? The answer is clearly yes, if the voters pull the wool out of their eyes. But one consolation is that even if Kerry was just being Kerry, and didn't do anything spectacular, he's still able to demolish Bush with his intellect, reasoning, common sense, calmness, humility, courage, sense of civic duty. He can do all that just by being himself. Bush needs all the spin he can get from his handlers to pull it off. That might be the reason why he didn't attack Bush hard enough thus far. He wants the voters to see a polite person challenging the President with obvious, reasonable answers to the problems that he is not willing to see. He doesn't need to lift a finger to do that. It's just not something he does, the angry, petulant, scowling, bullying attitude that his opponent is forced to adopt. It would be wonderful if Kerry decides to pound Bush into pulp in the third debate. There's a time to be Optimus Prime, and there's a time to finish the job. That's perhaps the strategy that he has in mind all along.

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