I watched the quadrennial Frontline piece, The Choice, last night on PBS, and all I can say is, "wowser". Anyone who watched this two hour PBS Frontline special could only have some away with one choice. The contrast between John Kerry and George Bush was never clearer - and what was so absolutely compelling about this particular show is that the life experiences of the two were shown basically side by side: John Kerry at Yale, then George Bush at Yale. John Kerry during the Vietnam war era; George Bush during the Vietnam war era. Etc, etc, etc.
One segment stood out in particular - the one that explained Kerry's and Bush's choices in a post-graduation American that was hip deep in the Vietnam experience.
An interview with one of Kerry's former roomates was very revealing. John Kerry was conflicted about the war. One of the speakers at his graduation was an uncle of one of his roommates - and after the ceremony, all went back to Kerry's residence and talked. They talked about the war. The uncle, an Under-Secretary of State in the Johnson administration talked about how the country needed young men like them at that critical time. All three roomates joined the service on graduation.
By contrast, George Bush and all of his interviewed friends were simply looking for a way to avoid the conflict. Granted, this was two years after Kerry graduated Yale, and the quagmire in Vietnam was much clearer than it was at the time that Kerry made his decision. Everyone was looking for a way out.
Kerry's experiences in uniform changed his life profoundly (particularly with the deaths of two close friends in Vietnam). The experience on Bush's end just reinforced his party boy status for the next 6 years.
How the Vietnam era shaped both Kerry and Bush is the centerpiece of this Frontline presentation, but it doesn't stop there, it takes the viewer through current day. It's an absolutely revealing show, and probably the best contrast of the two candidates that I've seen in this election season. On the whole, it's as balanced as a report like this can be.
Much like the movie, "Going Upriver", "The Choice 2004" gives you a measure of the men behind the faces. "The Choice 2004" will be available to watch online this coming Friday on PBS's website. I'm sure it will be rerunning in many areas, as well. Check your listings, and by all means carve out two hours to watch this Frontline presentation. It will be the most worthwhile two hours you've spent this election season, I promise.
Between Going Upriver and The Choice 2004, I don't see how anyone could vote for George W. Bush, knowing what we know now.
Available on video: Going Upriver, The Choice 2004