Gore’ing John Kerry

I recently received an innocent seeming email from a relative of mine who is even more radically anti-Bush than I am…

It contained a series of jokes (some of which were even funny) in which various political and public figures answer why the chicken crossed the road (a copy of it is enclosed below). Just another joke email, right? NO! I read through the first couple of jokes, and even laughed. Then I got to this one:

JOHN KERRY: Although I voted to let the chicken cross the road I am now against it.

A one line throwaway, positioned right below a couple of fairly funny anti-administration jokes and an much long Nader joke that does Nader no harm with his core constituency (neither does the GWB joke, for that matter) – more on the Nader joke, later. Not particularly funny, not particularly memorable – especially after you’ve read the whole thing. The punch line is great.

But…

My reaction was to do a doubletake… Kerry best known for being a waffler?!? It seemed out of left field – surely that isn’t the first thing most people think of when Kerry is mentioned?!? Yet, if you search Google, this meme is all over the place (“Kerry flip flop” – 37000 hits, “Kerry waffle” – 16000, “Kerry liar” – 90000 vs. 66,000, 49000, and 224,000 for Bush, one of the most polarizing Presidents in history with a 4 year lead at accumulating references). Methinks the key to the Bush re-election strategy is thus revealed: tag Kerry with a negative character trait meme early on and Gore him to death by creating uncertainity in the minds of swing voters.

Think I’m being paranoid? Last night, as I walked out of the home of a pair of devoutly anti-Bush types, what was the topic of discussion? Reasons why Gore… oops, excuse me, Kerry, is not a flip-flopper. It is working that well, folks. If we’re talking about it, what is the vast undecided middle talking about and debating? You got it.

Folks, we need to stop this meme in its tracks (ironic that I’m talking about it, yes). We need to make a personal commitment to not talk about it, to not forward on emails referring to it, to totally invalidate the idea every single time it is raised and paint it as a Republican scheme to undermine Kerry’s credbility and integrity.

Here’s the email… I noticed, after searching through Google, that it has mutated a bit – the first hit has the Al Gore joke leading off, and no Hans Blix (among other changes).


WHY DID THE CHICKEN CROSS THE ROAD?

GEORGE W BUSH

We don’t really care why the chicken crossed the road. We just want to know if the chicken is on our side of the road or not. The chicken is either against us or for us. There is no middle ground here.

COLIN POWELL

Now to the left of the screen, you can clearly see the satellite image of the chicken crossing the road.

HANS BLIX

We have reason to believe there is a chicken, but we have not yet been allowed to have access to the other side of the road.

JOHN KERRY

Although I voted to let the chicken cross the road I am now against it!

RALPH NADER

The chicken’s habitat on the other side of the road had been polluted by unchecked industrial greed. The chicken did not reach the unspoiled habitat on the other side of the road because it was crushed by the wheels of a gas-guzzling SUV.

PAT BUCHANAN

To steal the job of a decent, hardworking American.

RUSH LIMBAUGH

I don’t know why the chicken crossed the road, but I’ll bet it was getting a government grant to cross the road, and I’ll bet that somebody out there is already forming a support group to help chickens with crossing-the-road syndrome. Can you believe this? How much more of this can real Americans take? Chickens crossing the road paid for by their tax dollars. And when I say tax dollars, I’m talking about your money, money the government took from you to build a road for chickens to cross.

MARTHA STEWART

No one called me to warn me which way that chicken was going. I had a standing order at the Farmer’s Market to sell my eggs when the price dropped to a certain level. No little bird gave me any insider information.

JERRY FALWELL

Because the chicken was gay — isn’t it obvious? Can’t you people see the plain truth in front of your face? The chicken was going to the ‘other side’. That’s what they call it the other side. Yes, my friends, that chicken is gay. And if you eat that chicken, you will become gay too. I say we boycott all chickens until we sort out this abomination that the liberal media whitewashes with seemingly harmless phrases like “the other side.”

DR SEUSS

Did the chicken cross the road? Did he cross it with a toad? Yes, the chicken crossed the road, but why it crossed I’ve not been told.

ERNEST HEMINGWAY

To die in the rain. Alone.

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR

I envision a world where all chickens will be free to cross roads without having their motives called into question.

GRANDPA

In my day, we didn’t ask why the chicken crossed the road. Somebody told us the chicken crossed the road, and that was good enough.

BARBARA WALTERS

Isn’t that interesting? In a few moments, we will be listening to the chicken tell, for the first time, the heartwarming story of how it experienced a serious case of molting, and went on to accomplish its life long dream of crossing the road.

JOHN LENNON

Imagine all the chickens in the world crossing roads together in peace.

ARISTOTLE

It is the nature of chickens to cross the road.

KARL MARX

It was an historic inevitability.

RONALD REAGAN

What chicken?

CAPTAIN KIRK

To boldly go where no chicken has ever gone before.

SIGMUND FREUD

The fact that you are at all concerned that the chicken crossed the road reveals your underlying sexual insecurity.

BILL GATES

I have just witnessed eChicken2004, which will not only cross roads, but will lay eggs, file your important documents, and balance your checkbook, – and internet explorer is an integral part of eChicken.

ALBERT EINSTEIN

Did the chicken really cross the road, or did the road move beneath the chicken?

BILL CLINTON

I did not cross the road with THAT chicken. What is your definition of chicken?

AL GORE

I invented the chicken!

THE BIBLE

And God came down from heaven, and he said unto the chicken THOU SHALT CROSS THE ROAD. And the chicken didst cross the road, and there was much rejoicing.

COLONEL SANDERS

Did I miss one?

Side note: I’d lay odds that thirty years from now, when no one knows who the hell Al Gore is, they’ll STILL be making the same jokes… Your grandchildren will know nothing about Al Gore except that he claimed to have invented the Internet, the Republican hatchet job was that through. Sigh.

Side note two:

RALPH NADER

The chicken’s habitat on the other side of the road had been polluted by unchecked industrial greed. The chicken did not reach the unspoiled habitat on the other side of the road because it was crushed by the wheels of a gas-guzzling SUV.

…this is obviously put forth as a hyperbolic extension of Nader’s normal anti-corporate rhetoric. What the author doesn’t get is that this is “red meat” to Green folk and Nader supporters, and not exaggeration at all. We expect our candidates to talk like this. It certainly isn’t the way typical politicians talk… and it’s presence, right below a “reminder” that Kerry is a waffler, just serves to remind folks like me why I voted for Nader in 2000. Brilliant, eh? Get Kerry from the right AND left and do no damage to GWB that matters.

I wish the operators on our side were half as clever at manipulating memes.

Thomas Leavitt