Along the Tracks

Monday, October 18, 2004

Signs of a Kerry presidency

From the Saturday, Oct. 16 Northwest Signal and Bryan Times:

Among the Dead Sea Scrolls is one document which has particularly interested scholars. Dubbed “Signs of the Messiah,” this scroll lists what people should expect to see in the Anointed One: the wounded healed, the dead raised and the poor preached the good news. According to the New Testament, Jesus responded to questions about who he was with this same formula.

Interestingly, John Edwards used a modernized version recently when speaking about what to expect in a Kerry presidency (as reported in the Times-Republican of Marshalltown, Iowa).

“We will stop juvenile diabetes, Parkison’s, Alzheimer’s and other debilitating diseases .... People like (recently deceased actor) Chris Reeve will get out of their wheelchairs and walk again ....”

We’ve heard a lot of overblown rhetoric in the 2004 campaign, but declaring a John Kerry presidency equivalent to the Second Coming has to be the topper.

Kerry didn’t exactly distance himself from Edwards’ prophecy when he stated in Wednesday’s debate he can “calm the waters of the troubled world.”

Do you doubt him? Oh, ye of little faith.

Of course, John “The Litigist” Edwards makes a less-than-authentic voice in the wilderness. Few people I know believe silk suits are the modern version of camel-hair tunics, and while Edwards’ annual voyage to Wendy’s to break bread with the common man may be his idea of simple living, I doubt the restaurant’s public relations people would like to see their chicken nuggets and dipping sauce equated with locusts and wild honey.

Even worse for the “holier than thou” campaign strategy, the only verifiable miracle attributed to John Kerry has been his ability to gain the Democratic nomination without offering any particular reason for people to support him, other than his four-month service in Vietnam - honorable, yes, but not exactly a comprehensive strategy for leading America in the 21st century.

Some may count as “miraculous” the way he multiplied his Senate record of eight sponsored laws and a few small amendments into enough legislation to feed 5,000 trial lawyers - but those claims are not supported by anything but blind faith in Kerry’s recollection.

Then again, Kerry may be just beginning his ministry. At Wednesday’s debate, we learned a little about Kerry’s faith, and a lot about his willingness to use people he claims to respect in order to further his political ends. In a question on whether each candidate believes homosexuality is a choice, Kerry showed he is more than happy to break his professed principles of tolerance, dignity and acknowledgment of personal privacy, if it might score a few political points.

“We’re all God’s children, Bob. And I think if you were to talk to Dick Cheney’s daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you that she’s being who she was ...,” Kerry stated.

Setting aside for a moment Kerry’s God-like ability to read what is written on another person’s heart, consider the parallels to Jesus. In a situation where sexual conduct was at issue, Jesus said, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone,” setting the accusers as the moral equals - not superiors - of the person they claimed had sinned.

In the “morality play” witnessed Wednesday, Kerry himself made the accusation in a not-so-sly attempt to “inform” those uncomfortable with homosexuality that the conservative vice president is the tolerant, loving father of a lesbian daughter. In a different setting, Kerry would have been the one picking up a stone.

Kerry’s disciples were quick to point out Mary Cheney has been public about her sexual orientation and also serves on the vice president’s campaign staff - making her “fair game” in their words. Considering her a target, rather than a person, says all we need to know about Kerry’s campaign.

So, with just over two weeks to go, Kerry’s latest strategy is much like his last few: Pick a subject with which Americans identify and claim the mantle of its positive image. Unfortunately, he ditches the substance and meaning behind the image - be it veteran, public servant, senator or, now, savior. Can he pull it off?

That would be a miracle.
(Paul A. Miller is the managing editor of the Montpelier Leader Enterprise and the Napoleon Northwest Signal.)

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