2004: Reporting For Doody

2004 wasn’t all bad.  I mean, it was the year that Wonkette was unleashed on the world.  And the Illinois GOP’s attempt to put Alan Keyes up against Barack Obama was pure comedy. 

Other than that, though?  The one presidential candidate that was at all interesting was aced because he screamed.  And thus we were left with John Kerry, who decided to re-run the Gore 2000 campaign — bland and uninspired on the whole.  The Bush campaign and allies pounced — “flip-flop!”  chants, Purple Heart band-aids, the Swift Boat ads, the ads with wolves and other scary things, and — of course — “you forgot Poland.”

There was always a chance for Kerry, though.  Abu Ghraib was on everybody’s lips in the late spring.  The insurgency in Iraq expanded, and continued to expose the lack of planning that was now the Bush administration’s hallmark.  And, of course, John Kerry had a plan.

And yet, so did Karl Rove and his allies.  You could say that Kerry was doomed from the start, in that he was attempting to win by boring Republicans to death.  But this, in retrospect, might have been the high water mark of the religious right, as “values voters,” particularly in Ohio, horrified (for no good reason) about the imposition of (jarring chord) SAN FRANCISCO VALUES, sealed the win — which gave the President political capital that he intended to spend. 

Ah, but as we shall see, pride goes before a fall.  In our next installment: Bush administration fall down go boom.


Breaking: Patrick McGoohan has met his Rover for the last time. Now he can find out (a) what they hell they wanted from him in The Village and (b) who Number One was.


You forgot to mention the Florida-peat that was Ohio.

The day after that election was the most depressing day of my life.

@rptrcub: It was a bad idea to stay up and watch the returns after volunteering from dawn until dusk. Exhaustion + crushing sadness = many tears shed.

@mellbell: plus many bottles of alcohol consumed while shedding said tears.

@mellbell: @SanFranLefty: I stayed up until 3 a.m. then woke up the next morning at about the time the concession speech was happening, a few hours before going in for the night cops shift at the paper I where I worked. I stupidly had the AM talk radio station on, and true to form, Limbaugh was mocking every word or statement Kerry was making, live.

(The reason I had it on was to keep track with any murders or robberies I would inevitably have to follow up on during my shift.)

After the night shift, all of us liberal media eeeelites (the elites being people who mostly didn’t get paid more than $29k/yr) got stinking drunk. I drove home drunk, not giving a shit about getting arrested.

rptrcub: I mentioned Ohio in passing, and did kind of gloss over the whole black-box thing. Maybe it was because of the banning of the marrying of the gays in Ohio was in the front of my mind. My partner in Wisconsinite election observing has the gay, and was totally despondent the day after. I raced away from his Milwaukee pad so fast that I forgot my clothes from the weekend and had to drive back, from Chicago, to pick them up.

@redmanlaw: I know who Number One was. But it’s a HUGE spoiler.

Be seeing you.

@chicago bureau: As much as I was crushed at the anti-gay marriage amendment passing 75-25 in Georgia in 2004, it was expected. Prop 8 in California in 2008 was like someone stabbing me in the back.

I still wished that Dean carried the Dems instead of Lurch but, I think, the DLC got what they wanted and lost it.

Sometimes you need to lose to see what is important or break away from stupid convictions (see DLC.) But goddamn, what a price the US (and now the world) has paid to do that.

rptrcub: See, Ohio 2004 was worse for me, I guess. I mean, it was blatantly used as a tool to gin up GOP voters who otherwise might have been disenchanted with the war and the economy going south and — black boxes notwithstanding — may very well have swung that state, and the election.

Wisconsin 2006 was another bad one, in that the pro-ban folks won it based on the content of the one single ad that they ran — with cute little kids asking about why that kid has two dads. That was the sum total of the campaign, and the ban passed, barely. Very unpleasant.

Prop 8 was different, though. With tens of millions of dollars, you could pass an initiative banning apple pie. The defeat was thus not surprising — albeit incredibly sad and awful.


Secret agent man, secret agent man
They’ve given you a number and taken away your name

@ManchuCandidate: There is a tad bit of truth to the accusation of people seeing Obama as a messiah — someone who would deliver the world from both the stalemate-seeking DLC and the horrors of the past eight years. After all of that, if you’re not seeking someone to deliver you from evil, you have no heart.

@rptrcub: I suspect there’s a lot of truth to people seeing Barry as a messiah. I’m sure it wouldn’t take much work to find a Team Unicorn as silly as Team Sarah. It’s the American Way.

All day election day the anchors were doing that telegraphing thing they do that you could tell meant that they thought Kerry had it won, and then through the night, they started looking gooofy and stupid. It was so bad. I cries now, reliving election 04.

@Prommie: Oddly enough, I have no memory of election night — it’s all a blur after the Swiftboating. Or maybe Puddinhead John put me to sleep for the duration.

@nojo: I had no hope for Kerry, he is such a fucking knob. I was suprised by the early hints of him winning, that kinda freaked me. It was Osama Bin Laden’s last minute endorsement of Kerry that told me its over.

@nojo: One benefit of my expat status, and this goes back to Willie’s first victory, is that I really don’t remember a whole lot about any of the campaigns. I had teh hope for Dean big time, and after the Scream I just shrugged my shoulders, collected my foreign earned income tax credit, and pretended to be interested in hockey and the strength of the loon (loonie?).

The only good from 2004 is that I stumbled across Jon Stewart for the first time since his stint as a tool on MTV.

@nabisco: Oh, I remember election-night now — the Daily Show had a fantastic opening recapping Florida 2000. (Best bit: Samantha Bee getting slapped repeatedly — “It’s Bush… Gore… Bush… Gore…”)

And the night before, Jon looked into the camera and implored voters to make his professional life difficult by not re-electing the clown.

I guess by then I had resigned myself to fate. I don’t recall holding out hope.

@mellbell: My buddy got his PH for getting shot in the ass. He also has PTSD from two tours, and his transportation unit is shipping out again in May.

After the Dean Scream, I lost all interest in the 2004 election. I knew from the first time I saw him that Kerry was little more than Dukakis Redux. 2004 was the worst year of my life, depression-wise (to give you some idea, I attended 9 funerals in 12 months, beginning with my best friend’s) and I simply could not rouse myself to care about a Democratic party that wasn’t even going to try.

2004 hardened my cynicism to the density of industrial diamonds. It was, however, the year I started working for the mouse, the year of my last circuit party (which I suppose is a good thing), and the year I met Mr. ‘Catt. So it’s diffuclt to have bad feelings about it…

The more I think about this stuff- all politics, all the terrible stuff that happens from day-to-day, the more I see that W.H Auden was right…

Musee des Beaux Arts

W.H. Auden

About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters; how well, they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer’s horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.
In Breughel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

That’s how life is, ain’t it?

@rptrcub: And his unit returned? I thought tours were automatically extended until the Second Coming.

@redmanlaw: Buddy/co-worker just returned from the Afghani suck. He’s still shaking out cobwebs and not back at work yet, but word is that he lost a few men and is far less go-go than when he left fourteen months ago. Second tour, Guard.

@rptrcub: I think it is deeply creepy that the selection of a president has become so important.

@nabisco: Despite what people may think, the Army National Guard is not an easy gig. One of my law school classmates was training at Ft Hood when a guy from another unit was killed by a .50 cal round during a live fire exercise. One of my high school classmates got super freaked out after doing guard duty after a major prison riot in which various rats and snitches were tortured to death with spikes, hammers, blow torches, etc. He said he was walking though ankle deep bloody water. Meanwhile, a regular Army guy I knew used to shroom out while guarding nukes in the nation fka West Germany.

@redmanlaw: A close relative spent three years in duty related to nukes in Germany in a time long past – and he was completely wasted on Turkish hashish for most all of it. Main occupation when not chasing local Fräuleins was smoking the stuff and playing basketball in slow motion.

/snark off/

I would say 2004 was the worst. (If I remember correctly) the ongoing Afghanistan and Iraq Wars were clearly fraudulent failures at that point, WMDs were confirmed to be non-existent, the Abu Ghraib and rendition programs were exposed revealing that the US kidnaps and tortures people–and worst of all–the politicians, media and ordinary citizens worked overtime to justify all of it. Billions and billions of dollars were outright stolen, and fraud, doubletalk and lies became the norm. No one cared.

Sorry if I’m skipping around here, but we learned that Cheney and Scooter Libby revealed the name of an undercover CIA operative as an act of political revenge–a clear act of treason–and no one cared. No one cares now. Then Cheney shot a man in the face and his victim went on TV to apologize.

Republicans stoked up a massive anti-gay backlash that poisoned a generation of progress–they did everything short of lining up gays against a wall to be shot. Mr. OA and I met with an immigration attorney and seriously discussed whether to go through the two-year Canada City immigration process (as one of his co-workers had done) or just drive up to the border and request asylum. We decided to see how things went in 2006 and 2008. Oops.

I still can’t believe that a plurality of the people in our country are in favor of war and torture, but it’s true. And the “I was following orders” defense came back with a vengeance and is still the party line for Demoncrats and Republicans today. It was crystal clear then that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Congressional Republicans et al were frauds, compulsive liars and psychopaths, but a majority of the people voted for them anyway.

I’m something of an idealist—in the 90s, I thought we had a lot of problems but that things were generally getting better—but 2004 was the first time that I’ve ever thought of my country as evil, incompetent, corrupt and relentlessly stupid. No one cared.

I just hope that someday I’m able to think about our country and feel something other than shame, revulsion and disgust.

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