A Wind Is Rising, and the Rivers FlowSenator John Kerry has always been the kind of political candidate who runs best from behind. We saw this tendency play out during his Senatorial reelection campaign against Massachusetts Governor William Weld in 1996. We saw this again play out in this current presidential season – when after being left for dead by the pundits and party elders in Fall 2003, Kerry's campaign surged like a mighty river overflowing its banks, and changed the political landscape of Iowa, New Hampshire, and eventually America.
Now, in our era of millions of cell phone-only households, and breadwinners too pressured to even find the time to respond to surveys, the pollsters report that Kerry is again behind – and that America is seriously contemplating the unthinkable, and returning George W. Bush to the White House.
Unlike President Bush, I pride myself on being a man courageous enough to admit my mistakes, and learn from them. I was very wrong about one key dynamic of this election in August 2003, when I first endorsed John Kerry for President. As I wrote on August 22, 2003, in “John Kerry for President”:
“As an authentic American hero, with a fiery intellect and a well-deserved reputation for his work on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, John Kerry represents the perfect antidote to the kind of nasty smear tactics that were used against Democratic candidates throughout the recent mid-term elections. Karl Rove cannot smear John Kerry, he cannot question his character or his intellect or his patriotism.”
I've since learned that Karl Rove and the loathsome Texas Republican political machine can smear anyone, and call into question their character, intellect and patriotism – at least for a time. And the foul stream of misrepresentations of Senator Kerry's military and Senatorial record emanating from the Bush White House, the Republican National Committee, and operatives like the Swift Boat Veterans, do appear to have had the same toxic impact on this good man's reputation as the President's mindless militarism and undeserved swagger have had on the United States' good reputation across the world. And the polling data clearly reflects this. But, at its best, polling data only reflects a snapshot of respondents' attitudes at a specific moment in time. The Presidential election is still six weeks away. And a wind is rising.
Vietnam and Iraq
Many commentators have questioned the wisdom of John Kerry making his Vietnam experience the centerpiece of his Presidential campaign. In truth, we do seem to be spending much more time focusing on the personal choices made by President Bush and Senator Kerry over thirty years ago than on more significant concerns – like the lessons that should have been learned though America's unhappy experience in the Vietnam conflict. And make no mistake: the parallels between Iraq and Vietnam are real, and becoming more relevant every day. A substantial segment of the American people have either never absorbed, or have deliberately chosen to banish from memory, the lessons of Vietnam – preferring the images of an ultimately triumphant America conveyed in revisionist fantasy films like “Rambo II” and the Chuck Norris' “Missing in Action” series. This preference is both childlike and unworthy of us.
The current Bush Administration is guilty of gross incompetence and imperial hubris. The evidence of its total failure in Iraq is everywhere to be seen. As General William Odom, a former head of the NSC during the Reagan Administration, told Sidney Blumenthal, in his powerful September 16th, 2004 story for the Guardian Unlimited, “Far Graver Than Vietnam” (http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,1305360,00.html):
“This is far graver than Vietnam. There wasn't as much at stake strategically, though in both cases we mindlessly went ahead with a war that was not constructive for US aims. But now we're in a region far more volatile, and we're in much worse shape with our allies."
Again, do note that Odom's are not the words of a partisan Democrat. Odom is rather displaying the insight that comes from hard-earned military experience. He is simply choosing to reflect upon the lessons of the Vietnam War – even if a substantial segment of the American people, including its current President, would prefer to forget or reinvent them. But were this nation to truly forget these lessons, then the sacrifice of the fifty-eight thousand American men who perished, and the hundreds of thousands who were physically, emotionally, or psychically maimed by their experience, will have ultimately been in vain. And their sacrifice must not be in vain. It is fair to say that John Kerry will never, can never, forget the lessons of Vietnam – or the memory of the men who died or were forever changed beside him.
It is precisely because Kerry still serves for so many, as he did in 1971, as a symbol of resistance to the notion that American militarism is a virtue in itself that he has come under such withering attack. There is nothing ignoble about a nation admitting that there are wars that it should not seek, and circumstances that do not warrant putting its men and women in harm's way – especially when that war is actually a distraction from the pursuit of an actual enemy. War should always be the last resort of America – not for our imagined enemies' sake, but for our own. And when we do go to war, our cause must be as self-evident to the reasonable man or woman (both here and abroad) as are now the unalienable rights that Thomas Jefferson postulated some two hundred and twenty-eight years ago. That self-evident cause today is, and could only have been, the defeat of Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda. It was never Iraq. John Kerry understands this essential equation. George W. Bush, the once wastrel son of an American President, now transformed into a would-be American Messiah, clearly does not. In an era of economic, religious and nationalistic bubbles, Bush's sense of self and mission are as inflated as the bubbles that we have all watched implode before our eyes. And having been godfather to this spectacular debacle in Iraq, this President cannot be trusted with the near impossible task of turning catastrophe into something nearer to opportunity. That task need be entrusted to a man with broader shoulders, and infinitely greater understanding of the human experience. And, in my humble opinion, it will be.
A Wind Is Rising
As an astrologer, I never assume that I am capable of anything more than glimpsing the probable shape of the future. There are often too many variables that simply cannot be calculated or understood in advance. Furthermore, I feel a veritable obligation to cultivate the same kind of spiritual humility that John Kerry evoked in his acceptance speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention:
“I don't want to claim that God is on our side. As Abraham Lincoln told us, I want to pray humbly that we are on God's side.”
And unlike our current President, or the fundamentalist ministers who clearly have his ear, I would never assume that my imagined relationship with God guarantees my success in making a forecast. In order for me to feel confident in that specific regard, I am forced to fall back on the much less glamorous model of extensive experience working within a system, and an imperfect ability to interpolate the probable shape of the future based on my understanding of how astrological symbolism has manifested in the past. I can only offer my best guess, so to speak. That all said, experience has taught me that there are some astrological calls that are easier to make than others. And for what it's worth, in my opinion, the likely result in November is one of those calls. In fact, even if I was asked to do so, I couldn't possibly offer a credible astrological case for George W. Bush's reelection. Of course, astrology aside, I'd argue that there is also no credible economic or geopolitical case to be made for the President's reelection. I'd argue that his Administration has been a dismal failure in virtually every area where they bear significant responsibility. At a moment in which the Saturn Cycle of presidential leadership and national direction (first chronicled in “It's Always Darkest Before the Dawn”, and in subsequent articles) has demanded prudent, reasonable, and sustainable policies and approaches, the Bush Administration's response has invariably been one either untested, or previously discredited, ideological assertion after another. This is an Administration fundamentally at odds with facts, and with reason itself – the faculty that the Founding Fathers valued above all others. Their arrogance and self-righteousness is fearsome to behold. But they are truly exceptional at “spinning” an increasingly inattentive American electorate, and intimidating an ever more compliant, corporate controlled media. Unfortunately for this nation, that's about all they are exceptional at – but their day of reckoning is near.
It is my sincere belief as an astrologer that the Cosmos never intended America to be the kind of country that it has become under George W. Bush. Hence, this election is truly a battle for the soul of America. It is my formal opinion that John Kerry will enjoy an astonishingly strong next six weeks, and replicate the dramatic turnarounds we witnessed in Iowa and New Hampshire last January, but now across the land. At the same time, events will likely conspire to expose the utter nakedness and foul odor of this President's leadership and policies. All the slime and muck that Karl Rove, Dick Cheney and the loathsome Texas Republican political machine have hurled at Kerry will be sufficiently swept aside so as to reveal the self-evident, quintessentially American virtues of this authentic patriot, hero and statesman. As Thomas Wolfe wrote, in his posthumously published final novel, “You Can't Go Home Again”:
“Whereon the pillars of the earth are founded, toward which the conscience of the world is tending, a wind is rising, and the rivers flow.
Matthew Carnicelli © 2004. All rights reserved.
Originally published September 19, 2004; revised September 20, 2004.