20 September 2014

Democratic Presidential nominee John F. Kerry seems to be evading any
confrontation with the media. According to journalists who have been
tracking Kerry along the campaign trail, the senator has not held a formal
press conference since August 9, some two weeks before the last time
President Bush met with the press.

When Israel ended a six-month lull in violence by striking a suspected
Hamas training camp in Gaza and killing 14 with a U.S.-built Apache
helicopter in response to the September 2 suicide bombings, Kerry did not
take one question. Nor did he speak with the press corps when Israeli
occupation forces destroyed two large apartment buildings south of Gaza in
Khan Younis, leaving nearly 100 Palestinians homeless. But perhaps Kerry's
most appalling act of silence came on September 7 when the number of U.S.
soldiers killed in Iraq reached 1,000 and Kerry declined to chat with the

The Washington Post quoted the New York Times' reporter Jodi Wilgoren, who
is following Kerry along his campaign, as saying of Kerry's elusiveness:
'I think it's ridiculous. There are a lot of things happening in the
country and the world, and the public has legitimate questions they'd like
to ask. I don't know what he's afraid of. He's criticized the president
for not giving enough press conferences. And now we face daily
arm-wrestling to ask a question.'

Kerry is seeking the position of the nation's top public servant, yet he
will not step behind a microphone unless the script from which he reads is
pre-fabricated. Much like Al Gore in 2000, Kerry, we're quickly
discovering, is wholly uninspired, dull, and brash. His platform and
campaign, manufactured by his party's elite, is a sure loser.

Of course, it didn't have to be that way. After all, Bush and company have
practically handed Kerry and the Democrats a bushel of scandals for their
campaign's inferno: Richard Clarke's disclosures of how Bush failed our
national security. The deceit of the neo-cons, as they sold the country on
war with Iraq. The outlandish deficit. The tax cuts for the rich. The
Enron debacle. Halliburton's handouts. The burgeoning gap between the rich
and poor. And the list goes on.

But the Democrats, as we know, have yet to seize the ever-shrinking window
of opportunity, enabling Bush to hold a fairly healthy lead as he
continues to steam forward in the polls. Some Democrats see it as a
harbinger of things to come on Election Day. With long-time critics of
Florida Governor Jeb Bush going so far as to praise the younger Bush for
his governing aptitude during the tri-fecta of hurricanes whacking the
region, many expect Bush to easily secure the critical swing state this
time around.

All of this aside, Kerry may still be doomed. After all, he has yet to
distinguish himself from Bush on issues ranging from the war in Iraq to
the Patriot Act to the No Child Left Behind bill. Kerry has sided with the
Republicans time and again.

It is time for Kerry to answer up. Simply playing the role of the
'anybody' in 'Anybody but Bush' will not win this election. 'Anybody' must
also offer an alternative. But as progressives know all too well, that is
not the Democrats' game plan. They'd rather lose than speak the truth. Let
alone answer questions in front of a microphone.


Joshua Frank is the author of the forthcoming book, 'Left Out!: How
Liberals Did Bush's Work for Him,' to be published by Common Courage Press.