September 27, 2004

What we're not talking about.

It's been a strange election season. Though it's gone on way too long, a huge amount of energy has been wasted on matters unrelated to the next four years, chiefly the sickly obsession with Vietnam. The talk about Vietnam perhaps occupies the space that would otherwise be devoted to more general blather about character. We're also hearing a lot of punditry about what women are doing, often in the form of whether Soccer Moms became Security Moms. (Have you ever noticed that these specialized labels are always about white people? No one ever talks about, say, "Security Blacks" or some such group. Would it seem offensive? If so, maybe you should worry about offending women with such labels. If not, why isn't it done? Is it because people believe racial groups do and/or should vote as one?) And there's always room to talk about things that affect the finances of older people (like medicine). (If young people voted more, maybe the government would bend over backwards to help us pay tuition. Can't we at least get the interest deduction for student loans back?)

But what is not being talked about that you would have thought you'd hear plenty about?

Supreme Court appointments! This was a huge issue in the 2000 election, when we were told the next President was sure to appoint two and maybe even three or four new Justices, and we--especially we women--were encouraged to feel quite alarmed about it. Here's speculation about particular appointments, in the October 4 Newsweek (including the ridiculous notion that President Kerry might appoint Hillary Clinton to the Supreme Court). The Sacramento Bee today asserts that "All Eyes" are "on Aging Justices," which, first of all, is not true (no one seems to be bothering); and second of all, is offensively ghoulish. (Why are we so solicitous of the needs of old voters, but openly take a deathwatch attitude about old Justices?) The Bee article is not based on statements by the candidates and notes that Kerry hasn't made the issue a "centerpiece" of his campaign. It quotes those who would like to see the issue on the front burner. Here's an AP article noting the absence of candidate attention to the issue.

I see there's a Daily Kos piece from Saturday, "Crank up The Supreme Court as an Issue in this Campaign!"
Is there any reason the Kerry campaign isn't making the Supreme Court a HUGE issue? ...

There's been a lot of talk recently about a possible decline in support amongst women for John Kerry. How about ratcheting up the Roe v. Wade/Supreme Court issue in the last few weeks?
As if the Kerry campaign might somehow have just forgotten about abortion and the standard way to make it a big issue. (Those Justices aren't getting any farther from the grave!)

Why don't the reporters delve into the question why the Kerry campaign decided to drop the issue? I could speculate, here in my dining room in Madison, Wisconsin: Some research showed the issue hurt Kerry. But why don't the professional journalists reveal the actual strategies of the campaigns? The AP reporter--prompted by Kos?--just dusts the cobwebs off the old deathwatch warnings heard in the 2000 campaign and calls up the head of a "liberal-leaning" group and a "conservative-leaning" group for some stock verbiage.

UPDATE: The parenthetical at the end of the first paragraph makes it look as though I consider myself a young person. I'm not. But I am quite involved in paying tuition! And sorry about not doing a better job of copy-editing this post earlier. I've touched up some gaffes (like "a AP article").

ANOTHER UPDATE: There is some kind of interest deduction for student loans, as an emailer pointed out. Sorry for the misinformation. Back when I had student loans, you could deduct all the interest (you could deduct your credit card interest too!). Now there is some kind of complicated approach that phases out the deduction as you make a higher income.

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