The Conventions

The Democratic National Convention has been over for a month and the Republicans are nearly through with their clambake in the Big Apple. The opening speeches of each convention sort of set the tone for the meetings, not that the overriding theme for the democrats, obviously as his own choice, has been the military exploits of John Kerry in the Vietnam War back in the late 60s. It is unclear why Kerry chose his military service as a bellwether for his fitness to be president, since, as has been amply proven by many other Viet vets, his service is riddled with questions ranging all the way from the rigging of commendations for medals to conduct after his discharge that bordered on aiding and abetting the enemy. His 1971 book, The New Soldier, featured on its cover an American flag displayed upside-down, and he, by his own admission, publicly (especially publicly) threw away medals, whether his or anyone else's. Whether or not the flag deal represented a mockery of the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima by a bloodied but victorious American military during World War II is anybody's guess.

Former vice president Al Gore and former president Jimmy Carter were the featured convention-opening speakers in Boston. The speeches were pretty much boilerplate, stuff that would be expected especially from two very partisan operators. Gore made it plain that the next election should not be decided by the Supreme Court, as was the case in 2000, never mind that the court exists to make such decisions. He neglected to mention that the SC was forced to make this decision because the Florida Supreme Court blatantly and, of course, illegally, tried to throw the Florida vote to him. He also attempted to have absentee military votes thrown out and not counted, but did not mention that, either. He also didn't mention that every institution from newspapers to private agencies, not to mention those of government, have since affirmed that Bush won the vote, with no strings attached. Gore's performance was an exercise in sour grapes, but who could blame him?

Gore's other main point was that this country must turn to its allies (whoever they are) if it is to be successful in the Iraqi undertaking, and this means bringing in a new administration. It seemed lost on the former senator from Tennessee that this country for months on end made the attempt to include its allies, whoever they are, in the fight against terrorism as practiced by Saddam, who probably transferred his weapons of mass destruction to other locations while this attempt was being played out. Gore probably meant "Old Europe" when he mentioned allies - France and Germany, especially - but he didn't mention that France was in bed with the Iraqis and that the German chancellor had just been reelected on the basis of his anti-American platform. The notion that John Kerry could change anything is something Gore has to know, after years in government, is foolish at best, and dishonest at worst.

A Carter quote: "The United States has alienated its allies, dismayed its friends, and inadvertently gratified its enemies by proclaiming a confused and disturbing strategy of "preemptive" war." Here again, allies and "friends" are mentioned, except that they aren't identified. There are quite a few nations in the coalition put together by Bush, and one assumes they are all friends and allies. Bush has also made it rather clear - or at least has strongly implied - that those "not with us are against us." So much for friends and allies! Nothing could be more easily understood than the meaning of preemptive war. This term may disturb some, but there's certainly nothing confusing about it, to wit, get them before they get us. Qadaffi certainly understood this.

Another Carter quote: "In the meantime, the Middle East peace process has come to a screeching halt for the first time since Israel became a nation. All former presidents, Democratic and Republican, have attempted to secure a comprehensive peace for Israel with hope and justice for the Palestinians." This statement is so disingenuous as to be blatantly dishonest. The peace process has been stopped many, many times since 1948. For instance, it has been stopped during all the wars with which Israel has been scourged by the Arabs since 1948, beginning in 1948, or at least in 1949, and including, for instance the blood-letting wars of 1967 and 1973. Carter certainly didn't secure a comprehensive peace for the Middle East or any hope for the Palestinians, something that Bush has tried hard to do, notwithstanding the Muslim homicide/suicide bombers, who indiscriminately take innocent life and make the peace process a practical impossibility.

Another Carter quote: "Elsewhere, North Korea's nuclear menace-a threat far more real and immediate than any posed by Saddam Hussein-has been allowed to advance unheeded, with potentially ominous consequences for peace and stability in Northeast Asia." Carter didn't mention that, for all his bluster, Kim Jong Il's military has never attempted to shoot down American planes, as Saddam's have tried to do routinely for years in the no-fly zones protecting the Kurds, and that the Korean thug has never used weapons of mass destruction, at least as far as is known. He also didn't mention that the nations of Northeast Asia have even greater responsibility for what happens in North Korea than does the USA. One would expect greater equanimity than this from a former president, but so rancorous were his statements that he discredited himself just on the merits.

Senator John McCain and former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani stayed on message in their convention-opening speeches in Madison Square Garden, the message being simply the security of the nation and the advancing of its freedom as well as that for other countries. They made it plain that the nation is at war and that the far better wartime president is/will be George Bush, not John Kerry, who, as Giuliani rather playfully indicated, is, if anything, inconsistent in his views, another way of saying indecisive and therefore not up to the job.

It is clear that the democrat mantra will concern the usual stuff democrats talk about endlessly, but about which they do little, except perhaps just scream for higher taxes. They will speak of health, wealth, education, jobs - things they have done little to affect. They will not mention that Bush inherited a serious recession of at least 18 months initiation when he took office, and then had to deal with the problems occasioned by 9/11.

The republican mantra will be, "It's the security, stupid." This will make sense since nothing else matters if the nation is either so badly damaged or frozen in fear that progress stops. This should be - and surely will be - the primary consideration when people enter those voting booths in November.