The good, the bad, Bush and Kerry

If you missed last Thursday’s debate between Kerry and Bush, you didn’t miss much. Perhaps you read about it the next day: the polls, the analysis, the commentaries, the opinions about who won and who lost. There was even an analysis about their body language: did Bush control his “tongue thrusts,” did Kerry engage the camera enough?.

But as far as I know there wasn’t a single poll that asked people in the United States if they even cared. Why should we care when we know that presidents never make good on their campaign promises?

Do I care about the debates? No, not really. But I watched anyway. I watched and laughed in disbelief at the figure of Bush as he brain-farted his way through 90 minutes of incompetent speech (how did he even get past the first grade?). And I grimaced, disturbed by Kerry’s psychopathic statement: “I will hunt down the terrorists and kill them.”

“We’re now ninety percent of the casualties in Iraq,” Kerry said. Actually, U.S. soldiers are less than ten percent of the casualties; Iraqi civilians account for more than 90 percent of the deaths in this so-called war. But I have no doubt that the debate contract stipulated that Kerry would not mention the civilian casualties. When Bush said that “Libya has disarmed,” citing this as an example of his success in getting terrorist nations to cooperate with his “strategy of freedom,” what he didn’t say was that Libya had nothing to disarm. Their weapons program was in disarray and they weren’t even close to being able to launch nuclear weapons.

The details – and the lack thereof – reveal everything.

From beginning to end, the debate was filled with lies, misinformation and empty promises.

And I’m afraid we can expect more of the same tonight in the debate between Dick Cheney and John Edwards.

If I was the moderator, this is what I would ask each candidate:

The U.S. government and corporations have their hands so deep in each other’s pockets that they can’t see straight. Will this ever change?

Cheney: “I have no ties to Halliburton.”

Edwards: “That’s the law of the land. Why should it change?”

Next question: If you were stuck on a deserted Arab island and could only have one companion, who would it be?

Cheney: “Well, my money of course.”

Edwards: “I would have to agree with my opponent, though Jessica Simpson might not be a bad choice.”

Am I being too cynical?

I’m debating myself here because I don’t have much faith in our “democratic process.” Ultimately, I believe that it doesn’t matter which candidate we vote for. Presidents are puppets and those pulling the strings are calling the shots – who they are, we’re never quite sure. But one thing is for sure: the U.S. brand of capitalism and democracy is going to have to run its course, no matter who we elect president, and its course will not be pretty.

Voting for Kerry might get Bush out of office, but it will not get the U.S. government’s corrupt interests out of the countries it has no business being in. Make no mistake, Iraq is not a war, it is a hostile takeover – the Bush administration is franchising democracy.

I’m thinking of voting for Ralph Nader again as a protest vote – as a way of saying, “The system stinks.” But that didn’t work out so well the last time.

Kerry and Bush may not be two sides of the same coin, as Nader has suggested, but they are both definitely working with the same currency.

So who will I vote for?

I have a few more questions for the candidates before I decide: Is there a president who can change the tide of terror, both foreign and domestic, both the U.S. kind of terrorism and the “other” kind? Is there a president who can separate capitalism and government? Is there a president who can make us proud to call ourselves U.S. citizens? Is there a president who can inspire young people enough to make them vote?

I will probably vote for Kerry to protest everything that Bush has done in the last four years, to protest the invasion of Iraq, to protest everything that fundamentalist Christian politicians and corporate government stands for.

But do I think it’ll make a difference in the long run? I’m afraid I’m not that optimistic.

Who won the first debate?

We’ll know in November.