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August 19, 2004

The Truth Lies Somewhere In Between

John W. Ashbury

As we draw closer and closer to November 2nd, when we will elect our next president, the lies and distortions grow bigger and wider.

The result will come down to which candidate's falsehoods and exaggerations are the most believed by a majority of those who go to the polls. At this point, it's anyone's guess just who that will be.

Sen. John Kerry's service in the military is not the core question that demands an answer. One has to respect the fact that he did go to Vietnam, received at least one legitimate Purple Heart, and received at least one medal for bravery. And just why he hasn't released his military medical records will remain a mystery and the subject of speculation.

His actions after his service there are another matter, however. He came home and became a harsh critic of that conflict. That's okay. He wasn't alone. But he claimed that his fellow soldiers committed atrocities. The video tapes of his speeches verify his accusations.

If what he claimed to be true is, in facts, true, then why haven't charges been leveled against some of the men who served with him and/or under his command?

But, then, the spinmeisters get a hold on those tapes and cut and splice them to the point that Senator Kerry could well be confused with Ho Chi Minh.

And the distorters on Senator Kerry's staff aren't any better than those on the President's. Yes, the President has difficulty with the English language from time to time. Just read a collection of Bushisms and you'll see what I mean.

Recently the President made a comment that terrorists' organizations around the world were constantly thinking up new ways to attack and discredit the United States and its citizens. Then he added that so were we.

Of course we are. How else can we attempt to anticipate the actions of our enemies? We have trained personnel in our government whose only job is to create scenarios that might be employed by those who will us harm. It's nothing new. We have been doing it since before we became a nation. How do you think George Washington was able to defeat the British despite the fact that he lost more battles than he won?

Starting earlier this week, the Bush/Cheney campaign began airing an advertisement answering John Kerry's claim that he is better suited to conduct the "war on terrorism" because of his many years on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The ad claims that Senator Kerry has rarely attended a public hearing of the Intelligence committee. The Kerry campaign immediately acknowledged that the senator "missed" some sessions, but that he had attended almost all of the closed hearings.

Then, this past Sunday, on NBC's Meet The Press, Sen. Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican and chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, offered to produce the complete attendance records of both the public and private hearings of his committee if Senator Kerry and his running mater, Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, petitioned for that. No response as yet from the Kerry/Edwards campaign.

The truth about Senator Kerry's attendance is probably not as portrayed by either the Bush/Cheney ad, or his own campaign handlers.

Even as these "imminent and important" events occur, the media, which is supposed to keep us factually informed, seems to be in the pocket of one side or the other all the time. There was little or no mention of Senator Roberts' offer, but a big deal was made about what the President said and how he said it.

Many newspapers, and most certainly nearly all broadcast media, slant the news we receive. Gone are the days when we can pick up a newspaper or a magazine and actually get the news without a bent - right or left. No one is in the middle anymore, although most Americans identify themselves as middle of the road.

Editorials and op-ed pieces are expected to present opinions. But the news articles should not tip the reader to the prejudices of the writer. And examples are not just on the national scale. There are constant reminders in the local press that "reporters" have biases they can't hide.

We, as voters, have an extremely difficult time deciding just "for" whom to vote. This year is making that choice all the more difficult because all parties are shading the truth more than ever - and that includes the media types upon whom we rely for our "truth."

When November 3rd gets here, the winner of this year's presidential election will surely be the candidate - and his spinmeisters - who are the most successful at deceiving the public about his true position and abilities to resolve problems.

It all boils down to a choice between liars. And that is a sad statement about our political process.

We should demand better.

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