Tuesday, March 23, 2004

UNREPRESENTATIVE (?) ANECDOTE OF THE DAY. Today I asked a class of 70+ university students whether any of them had changed their mind as to which presidential candidate they preferred. Two hands were raised. One student said that he has become disgruntled with both Bush and Kerry and now plans to vote for a third-party candidate (presumably Nader?) the other said he was a Republican and future Marine but plans to vote for Kerry because Kerry was a veteran and knows the pain of combat and seeing friends die in war. He felt more comfortable with the idea of being ordered by Kerry to go to war than of being ordered by Bush.

I think the second student has a point. The whole Bush was AWOL story is, perhaps, a bit overblown and the difficulties and perils of training to be a fighter pilot are greater than many in the media will give Bush credit for. However, at the end of the day, Kerry actually saw combat, actually fired shots, actually had friends and comrades die. Can anyone dispute that Kerry might have more legitimacy ordering soldiers to battle in the future?

Whether his opinions are representative or not is, of course, a different matter. If they are, I suspect that Bush will have more trouble in the upcoming election than many of his supporters expect. On the other hand, the bigger lesson from this excercise is the fact that only two out of 70+ have had their opinions changed in today's atmosphere of mud-slinging about trivial matters. For most, the die has already been cast (at least for now).

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