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Day of the Dead Election, Part II

by Alex Miller-Mignone

"I actually voted for the $87 billion...
before I voted against it."
John Kerry

Here’s the scenario: in a supposed democracy, the son of a man who was formerly the president and previously headed the country’s secret police narrowly wins a national election. His victory is due to suspect electoral processes in a region governed by his brother, and his election is confirmed by a judicial body composed of judges appointed by his father and his father’s former boss.

Is this some Latin American banana republic we’re talking about?

No, it’s the U.S. 2000 presidential election. And in many ways, the country is still fighting it, four years later. Americans have not forgotten, nor have they forgiven. The 2004 Democratic challenger’s best hope of winning is that he is not George W. Bush. He is, in fact, the Anti-Bush.

In poll after poll in state after state during the Democratic primary season, voters indicated that their primary reason for voting for John Kerry was not that they liked him, not that they trusted him, not that they thought he’d do a better job. It was simply that he wasn’t George W. Bush, and they felt Kerry had the best chance of beating Bush from among those in the assembled Democratic field.

Seeing Kerry’s numbers mounting, and Bush’s numbers going south, the Republican attack machine got started early, even before the Massachusetts Senator had effectively locked up his party’s nomination in mid-March. $50 billion and thousands of TV ads later, Kerry has indeed fallen in the polls, but so has Bush, to the lowest point in his tenure in office. The two are still in a neck-and-neck race for an election that will be won "between the 45 yard lines," as one Republican analyst has expressed it.

Bush & Company have been able to paint Kerry fairly successfully as a flip-flopper, someone without firm principles who will say whatever he needs to, to get elected. Kerry hasn’t helped the situation with such obtuse back-pedalings as his stance on whether or not he owns an SUV, and the oft-quoted ditty which opens this article: "I actually voted for the $87 billion [for Iraq]... before I voted against it."

There is an explanation for that statement; in fact, a very good and cogent one. Kerry protested un-itemized expenditures in Iraq, both for the war itself and the reconstruction. He cosponsored an amendment to the appropriations bill which would have funded the war by rolling back the Bush tax cuts on the wealthiest 1% of Americans. He voted for the bill with the tax-cut-rollback amendment. When the amendment was defeated, Kerry, who saw clearly that the needed to support the troops would be approved without his support, voted against the bill in protest against the Administration’s fiscal irresponsibility.

That’s all very well and good, but it is far too complex and pseudo-Machiavellian to explain to an electorate used to five-second soundbites. And, it is grist for the mill to an opponent who is used to playing dirty. It is also just another day in the life of a legislator—and a principal reason we don’t elect legislators to the presidency very often.

The last man to be elected with only Senate credentials was JFK, who shares his initials with Kerry. John F. Kennedy’s 1960 defeat of Richard Nixon, a former senator who was also Eisenhower’s vice-president, marks the last successful bid of a legislator aspiring to the White House. Republican Senator Goldwater was defeated by President Johnson in 1964; Nixon made his resurgence in 1968 against another senator-cum-veep, Hubert Humphrey, and then soundly trounced Democratic Senator George McGovern in 1972.

Gerald Ford, who came from the Senate to replace the disgraced Agnew as Nixon’s vice president, succeeded Nixon in 1974 but was himself defeated by Governor Carter in 1976. Ronald Reagan retained his office in 1984 by defeating Walter Mondale, a former vice president with Senate origins. Bill Clinton successfully defended his job in 1996 against Senator Bob Dole.

In all these instances, particularly Nixon’s campaign against McGovern in 1972 and Clinton’s against Dole in 1996, the charges of waffling and flip-flopping were successfully exploited against candidates with legislative backgrounds. But for the current administration to make these charges is disingenuous in the extreme. Vice President Cheney has blasted Kerry’s votes against "crucial defense systems" necessary in the war on terror. However, these votes came more than a decade ago in the context of the military reduction after the end of the Cold War. Many of these same systems were cut by Cheney himself as Defense Secretary for Bush Sr.

And Bush Jr.’s much-vaunted constancy is itself a myth, with 180-degree volte face realignments on such issues as the creation of the 9/11 Commission, the appearance before it of National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice, his own testimony to the Commission, the role of the UN in rebuilding Iraq, and the elimination of all Iraqi Baathists from positions of power (a policy which has now been overturned).

But Kerry does change his positions. Partly this is due to necessary legislative compromise, partly to the impact of increased experience and changing perspective over the years, and partly, it’s just John Kerry (b. 12.11.43, 8:03 AM MWT, Denver, CO—see chart). With Both Sun and Mercury exactly conjoined Black Holes, the Massachusetts Senator can be hard to pin down.

Black Hole Sun natives are magnetic, drawing others to their banner easily, but they can also be chameleon-like, trying to be all things to all people. This is not necessarily a deceptive or false front, as, like the chameleon, the Black Hole Sun native adapts to its environment. It is simply their nature to reflect their audience and surroundings.

Black Hole Mercury individuals are susceptible to misinterpretation, misunderstanding, and downright misrepresentation, as their message can become trapped within the confines of the Black Hole’s supergravity. They can have difficulty communicating themselves to others. The volte face nature of Black Hole interaction tends to elicit dramatic reversals of position and frequent changes of opinion or perspective. Again, neither face is false or inherently deceptive; they are equally valid responses to changing stimuli.

"I mean, you learn as you go in life," Kerry is quoted as saying when questioned about some of his changing positions. Most individuals do expand or contract their views as age and experience intervene, but the majority of these shifts represent refinements or clarifications of existing opinion. With Black Hole natives, the tendency is frequently to reverse opinion.

Kerry’s chequered Vietnam history is a case in point. An early agnostic concerning the war effort, Kerry became a true believer and volunteered for service at a time when many well-connected Americans (including Bush, Cheney, former VP Dan Quayle, Clinton and Gore) were opting out of battlefield service via college deferments and National Guard duty. Kerry served two tours as a Swift boat captain, receiving three Purple Hearts and the Silver and Bronze Stars. But the experiences he had in Vietnam led him to believe the war was wrong, and upon his return to the States he helped to form the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, which aggressively opposed the conflict.

His Black Hole Mercury, which is also capable of the dramatic and eye-opening turn of phrase which reveals an alternate or opposing perspective, served him well in his testimony before Congress, when he famously questioned, "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?" Virtually overnight Kerry became a national figure. Within 48 hours of his testimony he participated in the now-infamous medal-throwing incident and saw a protest march he had organized and which had begun with 800 veterans swell into a throng of 250,000. White House counsel Chuck Colson conferred with President Nixon regarding Kerry’s sudden appearance on the national scene, and opined in a secret memo: "Destroy the young demagogue before he becomes another Ralph Nader."

Kerry’s career is sprinkled with such pivotal moments, but his utterances have by and large retreated from the thought-provoking rhetoric of his congressional appearance to typically involuted Black Hole Mercury statements. This tends to be a more incremental, legalistic jargon which Washington insiders understand, but leaves those beyond the Beltway cold. Rather, his Black Hole Mercury found its expression in several important investigations after he had become Massachusetts’ Lieutenant Governor in 1982 and subsequently its junior Senator in 1984.

Bringing secrets to the light of day is another important function of Black Hole Mercury, which is just as adept at revelation as it is at obfuscation. While still Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts, Kerry recaptured the national spotlight with his tireless efforts to bring to public awareness to the problems caused by acid rain. Anti-pollution recommendations proposed by Kerry and presented in a 1984 resolution by the National Governor’s Association eventually became incorporated into the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments.

Kerry had been in the Senate less than two years when his office began an unauthorized investigation that would shortly mushroom to reveal the blistering details of the convoluted Iran/Contra scandal. The inquiry brought to light a convoluted scheme wherein the Reagan Administration violated U.S. law by selling arms to the Iranian government and then funneled the proceeds into support for rebels attempting to overturn the Socialist-friendly regime of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. Reagan covert operative and fellow Vietnam vet Oliver North was Kerry’s chief opponent in an investigation that ranged widely but fell short of indicting "the Teflon President." An offshoot of the investigation regarding a related drug-smuggling and money-laundering operation led to Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, and resulted in the fall of the corrupt banking institution BCCI in 1991.

Kerry was also instrumental in the investigations into allegations of missing POWs still in detention in Vietnam nearly 20 years after the end of the war. In this he was joined by Republican Senator John McCain, who spent five years in a POW camp and had previously viewed Kerry with distrust due to his anti-war stance. Their work together in refuting claims of secret POW detention camps and then moving the nation towards normalizing relations with Vietnam earned Kerry McCain’s "unbounded respect and admiration."

McCain, who has been suggested as a "Dream Team" running mate for Kerry this fall, has acknowledged his early suspicions of Kerry, but stated that, "You get to know people and you make decisions about them. I found him to be the genuine article." He has supported Kerry’s service record against the Bush attack team this spring, who had attempted to skewer Kerry over the assertion that he tossed away his medals, when in fact he discarded only his ribbons in the highly publicized demonstration in front of the Capitol in 1971. In the military, "medals" and the "ribbons" which represent them on dress uniforms are interchangeable terms, and Kerry has always acknowledged that the actual medals he threw away that day with his own ribbons belonged to other service men who could not be present and asked that he perform this act of protest for them. The story is an excellent example of the types of convolution, confusion and the appearance of deception in which Black Hole Mercury natives often find themselves embroiled.

Kerry’s 15 Virgo Chiron squares his Ascendant/Sun/Black Hole conjunction at 16 and 18 Sagittarius, and Kerry has formed alliances with other "maverick" Senators such as McCain, New Yorker Al D’Amato and even staunch Republican partisan Jesse Helms of North Carolina, who was influential in the Iran/Contra investigation. This healing Chiron energy allied to his Sun may be a key factor in the Senator’s continued environmental activism, from his early work with acid rain to subsequent leadership in the areas of global warming, air and water quality, and the protection of fisheries, wildlife and wilderness areas. In 2001 Kerry also threatened to lead a filibuster opposing George W. Bush’s attempt to open the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas development. The Administration’s proposal was eventually quashed.

Kerry’s rise to national prominence was perhaps foreshadowed by the Quasar exactly conjunct his 5 Libra Midheaven. Quasars promote achievement, success, and pervasive manifestation, indicating prominence and possibly, in Kerry’s case, national leadership. Neptune stands close beside at 4 Libra, however, with the concomitant possibility of disappointment or chasing the will-o-the-wisp of power without ever attaining it. This Neptune also tightly squares the 5 Capricorn Black Hole Mercury, further eroding steadfastness in decision-making, and adding the possibility of deliberate deception.

Despite both Ascendant and Sun in often gregarious Sagittarius, Kerry, who is sporty and athletic in typically Sagittarian ways (he once appeared on the cover of a windsurfing magazine), has the reputation of being aloof and somewhat high-hat. Doubtless this is partly due to the opposition of Saturn to his Sun from 23 Gemini, which tends to dampen high spirits, but also lends an air of gravitas, competence and reliability. Saturn further conjoins Kerry’s Moon at 17 Gemini, implying emotions which are kept in close check, and perhaps also a shyness in public which is at variance with the sunny Sagittarian outlook but could go far to explain his aloofness and "cold fish" qualities. The recent Venus Transit of the Sun on June 8 at his Moon’s degree may help to crack open that stony persona, perhaps making Kerry a more attractive, personable candidate.

Black Hole Sun natives are often accused of extreme egotism, and Kerry is no exception. As long ago as 1971, Nixon and Colson, admittedly not the most neutral of observers, discounted Kerry as a political opportunist who opposed the war only for his own ends. At the time, the Republican-crafted image of Kerry as a shameless self-promoter emerged even in Gary Trudeau’s "Doonesbury" comic strip, which parodied Kerry's instant national fame.

And even in a chamber known for its massive egos, Kerry stands out in the Senate as a member who is never far from the microphone or the cameras. Known as "Live Shot" by Massachusetts political insiders for his habit of courting publicity (the term originated in his closely contested Senate re-election bid against popular Governor William Weld in 1996, when Kerry used the bully pulpit of his office to garner enough free press to offset the better-funded Weld), Kerry has also been the butt of Democratic colleagues’ jokes that his initials "JFK" stand for "Just For Kerry." But Kerry’s long record of public service, first as a decorated war veteran, then as a successful Massachusetts prosecutor and Lieutenant Governor, and finally as a four-term senator, belie that interpretation.

In the end, however, Kerry’s gifts or faults are unlikely to be the deciding factor in this election. Most voters will be casting their ballots based on their opinions of Mr. Bush and his record over the past four years, not on the qualities of his opponent. In the final analysis, Kerry’s chief asset is his claim to the mantle of "the Anti-Bush."

Alex Miller-Mignone, photo
Alex Miller-Mignone is a professional writer and astrologer, author of The Black Hole Book and The Urban Wicca, former editor of "The Galactic Calendar," and past president of The Philadelphia Astrological Society.

His pioneering work with Black Holes in astrological interpretation began in 1991, when his progressed Sun unwittingly fell into one. Alex can be reached for comment or services at