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The ITT List

Wednesday, Oct 13, 2004, 7:32 pm

What next, navies of charity?

By Jessica Clark

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Fresh off the debate, on deadline, and too tired to fact-check. (Yes, he did say that thing about Osama)

Instead, can I just say--how freaking militaristic do you have to be to sic "armies of compassion" on the poor and downtrodden? I mean, Jesus, isn't Salvation Army enough? Now we've got to visualize Bush's prayer troops on the march, waking up at 5 a.m. to do syncopated offer-a-helping-hand drills.

Like the tropes of our war-crazy hyper-religious hallalujah culture aren't already painfully overdetermined. OK, alright, we get it: all-male cadres of hierarchical obsessives pursuing apocalyptic goals are the only imaginable power structures. Yawn.

And another thing that just freezes my gizzard: watching a bunch of high-profile power brokers chuckle over the strong women in their lives. Oh, hah hah--my wife told me not to scowl, so I'm going to spend the entire debate grinning like a ventriloquist's dummy. Oh, ho ho--I married up. Never mind that my wife speaks several languages, and wields impressive power in the philanthropic sphere. What I really need to play up here is the fact that Americans are nervous about men marrying into money, while women are expected to do so. Oh, hee hee--my face is on CBS news all the time, and now I'm going to use my wife and daughters as props on national television.

Crapola. And that's no ex-agg-er-a-tion...

But then again, being macho was the name of the game for Kerry tonight, who assured us several times that he's got a "gut" and he knows how to use it. Bush tried to girly-man him with the old double whammy: you're not just a liberal, you're a Frenchy! ???There???s a mainstream in America," Bush sneered, "and you sit the far left bank.??? Kerry later hit a speed record for associating himself with the most masculine professions in under one minute: ???I???m a hunter???I???m a gun owner???I???m a former law enforcment officer???I???ve broken up organized crime...I was hunting with a sheriff."

Stop, stop, I'm swooning. I hear you surf a mean wind, too, big man.

Oh, Bush tried to woo me--reminding me in his concluding remarks how much we had been through together: a recession, an attack, some school reform. Yeah, those were some tender memories.

But Kerry won my heart tonight by finally telling me in plain language what he thinks about abortion issues. Abortions are between "a woman, God, and her doctor" (while I might substitute her best friend or the impregnator in question for God, at least he's taken George Bush out of the clinic), and they're constitutionally protected. Which Kerry would uphold. End of discussion. Take my vote, please.

Jessica Clark is a writer, editor and researcher, with more than 15 years of experience spanning commercial, educational, independent and public media production. Currently she is the Research Director for American University’s Center for Social Media. She also writes a monthly column for PBS’ MediaShift on new directions in public media. She is the author, with Tracy Van Slyke, of Beyond the Echo Chamber: Reshaping Politics Through Networked Progressive Media (2010, New Press).

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