Both Sides Now
John Kerry's troubles have largely been forced on him by the Democratic Party platform. He has been given the unenviable task of presenting it as the War Party when in fact it is not, nor does it want to be. The Democrats could have chosen to become a real anti-war party, in which case it would have nominated Howard Dean or it could have elected to become a genuine war party and chosen Joseph Lieberman. Instead it chose to become the worst of all combinations, an anti-war party masquerading as the war party.
To carry out this program, it required a Janus-like figure and found it in Senator Kerry; the only man of sufficient stature who could look two ways at once. It would have been a desirable trait, as Christopher Hitchens pointed out, in a peacetime President.
He still gives, to me at any rate, the impression of someone who sincerely wishes that this were not a time of war. When critical votes on the question come up, Kerry always looks like a dog being washed. John McCain was not like this, when a president he despised felt it necessary to go into Kosovo. We are looking at a man who would make, or would have made, a perfectly decent peacetime president. ...
Why, then, the penumbra of doubt that surrounds him? (Doubt on his own part, I mean, not just doubt by others.) The answer is not complex. One of these books, ''John F. Kerry,'' by a Boston Globe team, makes reference to the song ''Give Peace a Chance,'' as sung by John Lennon in Kerry's presence in far-off days. The second, ''The Candidate,'' by the journalist Paul Alexander, has a verse from Bruce Springsteen's ''No Surrender'' as its epigraph, speaking of ''blood brothers in a stormy night'' and refusing the idea of any retreat. (This stirring song, indeed, was played at top volume by the party managers in Boston to herald Kerry's acceptance speech at the Democratic convention.) The third, ''A Call to Service,'' by Kerry himself, merits Mark Twain's comment on the Book of Mormon -- ''chloroform in print.'' It has no music at all. But if it were to draw its title from any popular song, it would have to bow toward Joni Mitchell and announce itself as ''Both Sides Now.''
But the Democratic Party decided to package this man, who was decent on his own terms, in the most dishonest possible way: to use his Vietnam service to deodorize the monstrous fraud at the heart of their own platform. Kerry's problems with Swiftvets are not because his credentials as a warrior are insufficient. Rather they are because no credentials are sufficient to foist this bait-and-switch on the American electorate without exciting adverse comment.
If any proof were needed that the Sixties were dead, the subterfuge of the Democratic Party would be Exhibit A. Instead of running under their own colors, or barring that, changing them, they have decided to sail beneath a false flag, as if under a cloud of shame. That in itself is tacit admission that they can no longer walk in their own guise; and what is worse that they cannot look themselves in the face, nor go into battle daring to win nor willing to lose in their own name, as is the mark of men.