Up the Creek

Going Upriver, the documentary about John Kerry's experiences both in and after Vietnam, is intriguing and engrossing for a number of reasons: it presents an interesting picture of the time (which I know little about, though I'd like to learn more), draws some parallels (perhaps somewhat unintentionally) between Vietnam and Iraq, and offers a fascinating portrait of both Kerry himself and the Vietnam Veterans against the War movement.

What struck me the hardest, though, was the sense of being thrown back to last summer and early last fall, when it still seemed like the voting populace of the U.S. might do the right thing and oust Bush, when the vibe from the Kerry campaign (and MoveOn, and the DNC) was full of promise and possibility, when I was still able to summon something akin to hope about the state of political affairs in this country.

Granted, the film presents Kerry in an unabashedly positive and unblemished light, and doesn't touch on his life and career after the 70s; it was intended as (and is) a somewhat heroic portrait of a somewhat heroic (though also somewhat flawed) man. But still.

Though it's refreshing to remember what I felt last year at this time--a fairly even blend of hope and doom, perhaps tilted slightly in favor of the former--there's no overlooking the fact that these days, much of the hope is gone. I need to stick more religiously than ever to my media diet: no more than headlines when reading anything about Bush, Iraq, the Republican-led Congress, and a bevy of other blood-boiling topics, and no radio or TV news that might feature any sort of sound clip involving Dubya's voice. Because not only do these stories remind me daily, endlessly, of how misguided the country seems these days, they also serve as unwelcome reminders of what might have been. If only.

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