I wasn’t able to follow the lame duck session closely, because the weeks prior to the holidays in this office are ordinarily filled with crisis and drama and last-minute filings, plus, I had to decorate two Christmas trees and talk a lot about possibly baking cookies.
I was catching up, and read this on START:
Senator John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat who led the floor fight for the treaty, said the vote will move the world away from the risk of nuclear disaster. “The winners are not defined by party or ideology,” he said. “The winners are the American people, who are safer with fewer Russian missiles aimed at them.”
Which got me thinking about John McCain and John Kerry, and how the two men were and are portrayed, and how things have turned out, in real life.
McCain and Kerry have quite a bit in common. Both long-term Senators, both lifetime “government employees”, both veterans, hell, they both married wealthy women (the second time around), so there’s some similarity even in their personal lives.
They’re also members of a very exclusive club. They both lost Presidential elections.
And that’s where the similarities end.
After John Kerry lost to George W. Bush, he returned to the Senate and simply did his job there, and he’s continued to do his job there.
Kerry lost, big, on climate change this year and he still rallied and led on START, rather than booking time on cable shows to bitch.
Kerry didn’t subject the country to two years of bitter griping, temper tantrums and petulant demands. Kerry didn’t pursue purely personal vendettas against whole groups of voters who (allegedly) “betrayed” him. Kerry didn’t flip-flop on each and every policy position he has ever held. He voted and votes the same way he always did. John McCain, remarkably, considering what we were told about him, has done all those awful things since his loss in 2008.
In the 2004 Presidential election, political media and pundits portrayed John Kerry as an elitist, foppish, slightly silly “flip-flopper” who lacked character and core convictions. The same political media and pundits lovingly and carefully nurtured the fairy tale that John McCain is a rock-ribbed, Country First, straight-shooter. Events since tell a radically different story.
How can this be? Wasn’t this script supposed to run the other way? Could they have been more wrong?