The Final Issues of the Incessant Campaign

This is either going to be a very close election or it’s not. That is crystal clear. With a swing of just a percent or two in several states, it appears the election could produce a win for Kerry in a squeaker or an electoral blow-out victory for Bush.

Negative Campaign is Redundant

Reaching this point of any campaign, the negativity grates on our souls. But we must recognize that today—and perhaps this isn’t all that new–to say someone is conducting a negative political campaign is redundant. They all seem to turn negative, unless a race isn’t a real contest.

It is clear to me that Kerry as the challenger has been particularly negative, but I am roundly partisan, and the record of the incumbent is always fair game.

Don’t you get the impression that everyone, including media, are tired of all this? When television hosts ask questions, and all you hear from both sides is the same talking points we’ve heard for months, don’t you want to reach through the television and slap the party hacks. Say something new!

The negativity makes a quote sent to me by a friend apropos for today:

“Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule — and both commonly succeed, and are right,” said H. L. Mencken.

It doesn’t seem to be dampening the spirits of potential voters, however, and a new report signals the highest voter registration in more than three decades, with more than 143 million Americans on the voting rolls (10 million more than were registered to vote in 2000.

Send the Lawyers Home

Will the incessant campaign become the interminable court drama? That would be the worst possible result. For the sake of democracy, send the lawyers home. Accept the results of the election.

In Tuesday’s election there will be no sizeable group of people who will be disenfranchised except the citizens of Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and other American protectorates. Go home.

As we try to export democracy to places such as Afghanistan and Iraq, what is the lesson of elections that end up in the courtroom?

One public official remarked: “I could think of no worse example for nations abroad, who for the first time were trying to put free electoral procedures into effect, than that of the United States wrangling over the results of our presidential election, and even suggesting that the presidency itself could be stolen by thievery at the ballot box.”

But the official wasn’t talking about today’s effort to expand democracy. The speaker was Thomas Jefferson. Man, is he speaking to the 21st century.

Death of Media Fair Play

Whether or not explosives were pilfered from an ammunition dump is a valid question, and I believe it is a good investigative piece for media. It could go to question of whether the application of a military plan missed something.

But it would be better done after the war. War is absolute chaos, and there are many important objectives to be accomplished as a force seeks to vanquish the foe. Could a warehouse of explosives have been overlooked? Of course. Was it? We don’t know. What we do know is that if it was left unguarded and somehow the bad guys were able to steal the munitions, it happened last April or May, as in 2003. We also know is that it has absolutely nothing to do with the ability of Bush or Kerry to lead the nation, and it should not have been raised at this point in the campaign.

The most troubling part of the story is the effort of a United Nations official to impact the American election, and the complicity of two of the traditionally most respected news organizations, the New York Times and CBS News. CBS’s intention to air the story 36 hours before the election is beyond the pale of media fair play. CBS News will emerge from this election the most damaged media entity and it is likely that there will be big changes in the offing.

Can you imagine how Edward R. Murrow would feel about his network criticizing soldiers in the field during a time of war. He’s doing somersaults in his grave.

What Impact, Azzam the American?

ABC seems to have handled professionally the question of whether to air the new terrorist video, waiting for some verification of its authenticity from the CIA or FBI. Talk radio was ablaze yesterday with accusations that ABC was holding it because its potential of refocusing attention on terrorism, not Iraq, would help Bush. For whatever reason, last night they aired the message of a speaker who identifies himself as “Azzam the American” praising the Sept. 11 attacks, and saying new wave could come at any moment. Certainly chilling, although we’re getting used to the threats.

Will it have an effect in the final days of the incessant campaign, soon to end?

–James Jewell

About Jim Jewell

I am a writer and consultant on faith and public life, active for many years in management and communications in the evangelical community. I now work as the director of the nonprofit practice at The Valcort Group ( Everything on this blog, however, is my personal opinion and is not read or approved before it is posted. Opinions, conclusions and other information expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of Valcort.
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