31. August 2004 · Comments Off on Memo: On Bad Political Advice · Categories: General, Home Front

To: Sen. Kerry
Re: Bad Political Advice
From: Sgt Mom

1. Presumptious of me to be offering my advice to you at this time, but if Lumpy Riefenstahl can presume to offer open letters to GWB, and cats can look at kings, then I can offer a few kindly words. My pity as a public relations professional is aroused most particularly because whoever advised you to base your campaign on the image of your service in Vietnam as a Navy officer did you no favor. To put it kindly, that was the second-worst bit of advice I have ever seen administered. The prize for worst in my experience, was that of an oldies radio station in Ogden-SLC ten or twelve years ago, who— when they re-formatted their playlist, took that occassion to announce that while the playlist was being updated and refreshed, they would be the “All Louie, Louie” station. And they played nothing but “Louie, Louie”, all day and all of the night, for an entire week!
I think they had lost every listener in the market by the end of the weekend, and carried on for another four days just to be sure. But I digress.
2. Senator, Vietnam was three wars ago, four if you count the Cold War of which it was a part. It is ancient history to most everyone under the age of 40, the stuff of movies and TV shows. To them, Vietnam is about as far away and irrelevent as World War I was to us. Not too much about it is applicable to the here and now of the war in Iraq, and what there is sometimes seems to have been bashed and warped and jammed to fit a wholly new matrix, shoehorned in any old way, according to the preconceptions of those doing the applying.
3. To those of an age to remember Vietnam and the aftermath, the memories are often bitter— especially for those who served in the military. The memories are of shame, of loss, and of being carelessly maligned by the public, levened with the salt of betrayal of people who trusted us, and finally paved over with a couple of decades of getting on with ordinary life. How your political consultants could think that re-opening the bitter divisions of that time would serve a useful purpose goes beyond malpractice. Had you, or they, any idea of how angry the average Vietnam veteran would be, given your prominence in the anti-war faction following on your service?
4. To see the world only as you wish to see it, not as it actually is, may be the particular hazard of those who live in an insular world, deprived of real-world feedback. To make decisions based on what you want the situation to be, and discounting— or being completely unaware of facts to the contrary— is a reciple for folly, and disaster. Your only hope for political victory may be that sufficient voters share your insular, floating world, soaring high above the rabble of cruel realities.
5. At this late date, you might still recoup the recent losses; downplay Vietnam, convincingly take up some rather more down-to-earth amusements, release your military records, confront the realities of this present war with bold, concrete and achievable policies; Audacity, my dear Senator, always audacity, but focusing well above just telling audiences what they want to hear at any one moment.
6. Up to the present, though, your course has been so disasterous and ill-advised, I confess to wondering in dark moments, if you were not set on it deliberatly, perhaps by a trusted someone who has ambitions for a second Clinton administration after the next election. As a rational person, I do not look for sabotage and clouds of conspiracies, but I can be tempted. After all, sometimes the paranoid do have people out to get them.
7. Seriously, Senator, I think you need to get out more.

All the best
Sgt Mom

Comments closed.