Can I get a hallelujah and an amen for how absolutely little I care about either how John Kerry was says he was in Cambodia during the Vietnam War but maybe wasn’t, or how George Bush says he fulfilled his National Guard service, but maybe didn’t? I don’t care, I don’t care, I don’t care. All this crap happened 30 years ago and has as little bearing on what’s going on in the world today as the gravitational pull of Pluto has on my pasty white ass as I sit here typing these words.
Kerry’s service record vs. Bush’s service record is marginally more important to me — say, like the gravitational pull of Neptune. But I still find it awfully hard to care. You know what I honestly think of Bush’s time patrolling the skies over Texas from the North Vietnamese Air Force? Good for him. When I was younger I always said that if there were ever a war and it looked like there was going to be a draft the first thing I was going to was was enlist in the Air Force, which seemed to me the branch of the service in which I was least likely to get killed; time spent in the Air National Guard seems even less likely to get one killed. I can hardly fault Dubya for embarking on a course of action markedly similar to my own blue-sky military plans. Likewise, good for Kerry we went to ‘Nam and did his time; if I had ever actually been drafted and sent upriver on a swift boat, I’d want to be the guy who fishes his crew out of the water, or at the very least the guy who was fished out of the water.
But when it comes to the election, I simply couldn’t give a crap about any of it. The last two Presidents with actual military experience were Bush I and Carter — anyone want to argue they were fabulous presidents? Likewise, Clinton never served and as for Reagan, he spent WWII making training films as part of the 1st Motion Picture Unit in Culver City, which I grok to be even less of a “real” military experience than Dubya’s stint in Texas, since at least Dubya flew military hardware. But you won’t hear conservatives knock Reagan, nor the liberals knock Clinton. What your military experience means is that you were in the military. Frankly, the only recent presidential candidate whose military experience was at all relevant was Clark’s, because that was what the man did for his professional life up until a few short years ago.
But back to Kerry and Bush. Tell you what. I’m going to spot them both their military careers. Kerry can trumpet his service all he wants, and I’m going to filter it out. Bush can do what he wants with his time, too. And I’ll go even further than that: I’m here to say I don’t care about the rest of either Bush’s or Kerry’s non-political life, except to the extent that it has some direct bearing on their policies or mandates or platforms. Bush a cokemonkey who failed upwards through business life? Fine. Whatever. Kerry a bland, shapeless goo who married for money? Groovy. So be it. Short of either man having actively strangled babies on national television sometime in the 80s, I’m going to let it all go, and I think you should too.
What I care about is their record since they’ve been in politics. Trust me, people, as far as Bush is concerned, there is absolutely no need to look beyond his presidency and administration to date: There’s enough red meat there to feast through November. Likewise if Kerry’s opponents can’t make hay with his years in the senate, they need to be fired and Kerry needs to get some more competent enemies. It these guys’ policies and political actions that matter and that will affect our lives now, tomorrow and in the future. If you all could just friggin’ focus on what’s actually relevant, please, we might all ultimately be better off.
For God’s sake, sometimes I feel like I’m the last sane human being out here. I don’t like Dubya; I admit it. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is what I think of his track record as President and his plans for the future. I’m not madly in love with Kerry, either, but again, so what? I want to see his plans and I want to look at his political life to see whether he’s got the competence and smarts to make it happen. Pretty much everything else is noise.
So can you try it? Not giving a crap about Kerry’s war record, or Bush’s, or anything else about either of them that’s not directly relatable to either one of them being President? I know it’s tough not to be distracted by all these shiny bits of foil. But please, make the attempt. It’s a presidential election. It’s not too much to ask.