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June 25, 2004

A House Divided Against Itself

Do we really want a Republican leading us into the fourth year of a war on terrorism?

Historically, the Democrats have been America's war party. Bob Dole got into trouble during his 1976 vice presidential campaign when he denounced World War I and World War II, along with Vietnam and Korea, as "Democrat Wars," but most of America's foreign wars began with Democrats in the White House: add the Mexican War, the Cold War and the War of 1812 to the Democrats' count. Republicans, even including the Federalist and Whig predecessors to the GOP, could only claim the Spanish American War and the Gulf War before the War on Terror and George W. Bush.

A Republican President led the retreat from Vietnam. Though he helped bring about the end to the Cold War, Ronald Reagan fled from Beirut like a thief in the night after terrorists bombed the Marine barracks there. In the Gulf War, George Bush I gave America its worst case of militarus interruptus since Eisenhower, also a Republican, signed a truce with the communists of North Korea. We all know how advanced and peaceful the Norks have been since Ike. Gerald Ford punted Angola over to the Commies.

Sure, Clinton shamed us in Somalia, but shaming America was his métier. One may as well blame a terrier for irrigating the corner fire hydrant.

Even while Clinton was urinating onto the body politic he enjoyed the support of the people within it. Even the most ardent Republicans, people whom Clinton infuriated the way George II infuriates Michael Moore, admit that if he had been eligible for a third term he would have won it despite everything--meaning that he would have been President on 9/11, that he would be president...now.

Assume for a moment that Clinton would have made the exact same moves in the War on Terror in his third term that George Bush has in his first. Would Slick Willie's America be nearly as divided as the one presided over by Bumbling George?

I think we all know the answer to that. Despite his 2000 campaign rhetoric, George Bush is a divider, not a uniter--alienating otherwise natural allies with his stands on issues such as stem-cell research, immigration, free trade, federal spending, privacy, energy policy and yes, even gay marriage. That's why he's stuck in a dead heat with one of the limpest dishrags the Democratic Party has nominated since the last time they drew from the poisoned well of Massachusetts.

Now Clinton--there was a uniter. The man kept the support of the country through years of independent counsel investigations, an extra-marital affair and impeachment hearings. George Bush, on the other hand, can't even get 50% of the American population to say that ridding the planet of one of the most brutal dictators in history was a good idea in retrospect.

For months now, whenever George Bush happens to alienate yet another subset of the population with his stance on an issue, the response from those of us who support the administration's foreign policy has been "Ignore it, it's not nearly as important an issue now as the War on Terror.* That's the issue you need to base your vote on come November. It's the most important issue of our time."

I agree. It's the most important issue of our time. It means that if the presidential election was held today, I'd cast my vote for John Kerry rather than George Bush, a man whose war leadership has been noticeably lacking in quality in the year since Baghdad fell.

If, as I keep being told, the side issues in this year's election aren't as important as the WoT, and assuming that the American population's support of the WoT is integral to prosecuting it, why wouldn't we be better off with a Democrat in charge? Isn't it time to consider the possibility that that the very existence of GWB as President of the United States is endangering America's ability to defend against terrorism?

For those now experiencing the onset of apoplexy, I have a question. The Bush team that led a righteously angry America into Afghanistan and Iraq has, in the space of a year, managed to horribly tarnish the reputation of the United States in the eyes of her own people. Should GWB win re-election, is it at all realistic to expect that he will have the political capital needed to expand the conflict to Iran, Syria, North Korea or anywhere else should it become necessary? No matter what George Bush does, no matter how long he remains President, about half of America will oppose him, and a significant minority will do so at every turn.

On the other hand, if John Kerry is elected President, and those who now say they support the War on Terrorism continue to do so--even though they might disagree with some of the strategies deployed to fight it--then on this question at least the country will be united to a degree not seen since the halcyon days of the late 90s.

"A house divided against itself cannot stand," Abraham Lincoln once said. Even the greatest of optimists, with the rosiest of outlooks, would have to admit that at this point in time the United States is a house divided against itself.

If Kerry is elected, it's not like Michael Moore or Noam Chomsky will be suddenly be in charge of foreign policy, any more that Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson are now. American troops are in Iraq and the Middle East, and there they will remain, no matter which man is elected in November. Whether Kerry or Bush is elected in November will have little effect on our relationship with Israel.

It's where the U.S. goes from here that's important and Kerry, though a mighty baggage carrier indeed, at least carries none of the baggage on Iraq and terrorism that now so weighs down George Bush. Come 2005 this will allow him to employ strategies to fight terrorism that are closed to the Bush Administration. Should the need arise, John Kerry will be able to do everything that George Bush could do in the war on terror, and then some.

For those one-issue WoT voters, it's time to consider sucking it up and taking one for the team. It's time to start wondering if the presidency of George W. Bush is more of an impediment than an aid when it comes to defeating the Islamists.

It's time to think about voting Kerry in 2004.


*Hate that damn name.

Posted by Bigwig at June 25, 2004 12:28 PM | TrackBack
Postscript:
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Comments

I have thought about this and along very similar lines. I keep coming back to 50% of a correct action is half right. 100% of the wrong action is all wrong. I simply cannot trust Kerry to not take the wrong actions.

Posted by: Jim at June 25, 2004 03:37 PM

Hmm. What are the "wrong actions?"
For me, once I started listing them, like;

"Withdrawing from Iraq,"
"Withdrawing from Afghanistan," and
"Abandoning Israel,"

I realized that there's no way Kerry could do any of those even had he the desire, and I don't see a lot of evidence that he does.

On the other hand, he'd would have to respond to any new attacks, and I still think that he'd be more free to confront the other rogue states in the world than GWB would be.

Posted by: Bigwig at June 25, 2004 03:45 PM

That's one of the funniest blog postings I've ever read. You almost had me believing you for a minute. Keep it up, we need a little light humor in these dark times.

Posted by: DBL at June 25, 2004 03:54 PM

Your post is the perfect example of what extensive drug abuse results in.

Posted by: Chris at June 25, 2004 03:54 PM

Well, if Kerry (or his overzealous speechwriters) are putting Jimmy Carter and/or James Baker in charge of Mideast policy, we will be abandoning Israel pretty quick. Your plan to have the Christian Right keep him honest on this issue seems pretty risky.

Posted by: mm at June 25, 2004 03:55 PM

As a registered Independent who has voted Republican for 20+ years, I fear and loathe the misguided social programs and Big Government machinations of the current iteration of the Republican Party. I too have considered voting Democratic, but I fear the Kerry is not the man to fight this fight. And I fear that if Bush loses, the Islamofascists will see it as what it is - encouragement for further acts of terror against us.

A terrible dilemma, but I must stay the course...

Posted by: Misanthropyst at June 25, 2004 03:56 PM

I think you are drinking a strong beverage of wishful thinking about the abstract idea of a quality democratic candidate, rather than tasting the true bitterness of a quaff of John Kerry's foreign policy instincts and political base over the past 30 years.

If you were talking about a centrist moderate like Lieberman, I might agree with you. John Kerry is not that man.

Posted by: Matthew Cromer at June 25, 2004 03:57 PM

I fear that it's possible for Kerry to do all the things you list without admitting he is doing them. As far as Iraq and Afghanistan are concerned, he could "localize" the conflicts there the way we "Vietnamized" the struggle against North Vietnam. He could abandon Israel with equal ease.

We could end up with Islamic Fundamentalists in charge in Afghanistan and Iraq as quick as wink, or festering civil wars we would have to reintervene in or wash our hands of.

Posted by: Dave at June 25, 2004 04:01 PM

Why did Kerry call Vietnam, "Nixon's War?"

Posted by: Greg at June 25, 2004 04:03 PM

There's a certain realpolitik undercurrent in your proposition that may be correct, though hardly fair to Bush. It is Bush's fault that perhaps 25% of the population won't take their fingers out of their ears long enough to listen? And do you really think that perhaps 25% on the other side are going to support whatever Kerry does because he "really" will fight the War on Terrorism once he becomes president?

As for myself, since John Kerry won't shut up about going to the UN for permission to act in the United States interest, I don't have faith that he'll use any mandate forcefully as a proponent of freedom. Bush has shown that he will act without the UN, though not nearly often enough for some of us. I'd like to think differently about Kerry, but it doesn't appear to me that his transnational progressivism has changed much since the 80's.

Posted by: charles austin at June 25, 2004 04:04 PM

Apologies for the typos and grammatical errors.

Preview is my friend.
Preview is my friend.
...
Preview is my friend.

Posted by: charles austin at June 25, 2004 04:05 PM

This seems similar to Kaus's rebranding/Pedro Martinez theory from late last year. Not a slam, because it's something I've been thinking about as well. One would assume and/or hope that hawkish Republicans in the Congress would continue to push some version of the Bush Doctrine, meaning it wouldn't be totally dead as a theory in the WoT (and yes, I hate the name too...can we rebrand that?). I figure, worst case scenario, Kerry muddles through for 4 years (and don't talk about terrorist attacks on U.S. soil, because I think that's a wash as most of the prevention is done at levels below the president), and the Republicans have a new foreign policy group to bring fresh ideas to the war in '08.

Posted by: Josh Heit at June 25, 2004 04:06 PM

The biggest problem with Kerry is that he believes that terrorism is a LAW Enforcement issue and not a WAR issue...we tried it his way up until 9/11 and look where it got us...we shouldnt be putting terrorists on trial, we should be killing them outright...

I worry that Kerry would give the UN too great a role in deciding on OUR security...the same UN that perpetrated a massive fraud in the oil for food program, leading they and other nations on the take (yes France, I am looking at you) to hinder our efforts to remove Hussein from power...

Kerry would have the resources to further prosecute the war on terror but he will not have the will. If he did we would be hearing/seeing more detailed ideas on how he would do better than Bush and he isnt offering that...oh he is telling everyone who will listen that he will go back to the UN etc...not the right answer John...If America wants to win this war, they need to have Bush as president and not Kerry...

Furthermore, so long as Kerry doesnt repudiate the insane rantings of Al Gore, he has even less credibility in my mind...Kerry isnt serious about the war on terror...if elected he will continue Sept 10 thinking in a post Sept 11 world...too big of a risk for me to endorse...

Posted by: Ernie at June 25, 2004 04:06 PM

I do hope you are right. However, I fear that Kerry would appease evil in the short run, leading to more strife in the long run.

Most people in the late 1930's felt Neville Chamberlain was the voice of reason. It was Churchill who was the divider, who kept us from reasonably coming to peace with the Nazis, who couldn't be beaten anyways. Even during the second world war, unions went on strike in vital war industries against Churhillian policies. In the United States, the American Nazi Party held massive rallies in Madison Square Garden in 1940-41, and Charles Lindberg counseled that the Nazi's were the wave of the future.

Likewise, we have people today saying we need to appease the so-called 'arab street' because, well, we can't win anyways. I think Kerry is inherently naive, much as Chamberlain was.

The corrupt UN machine is not our friend. France is not our friend. Old Europe is not our friend and Kerry needs to realize this.

Posted by: Josh at June 25, 2004 04:08 PM

Bigwig,

I think you gloss over some pretty important points: a Democrat would never have had the determination to face down the UN and the critics and get us in Iraq, or do any other number of things globally unpopular but important to face down Islamic terrorists. I believe a Democrat would've gone into Afghanistan and it would've ended there. I doubt they would've even been insistent in keeping the anti-WMD pressure on Iraq, to say nothing of invading.

Hence, Saddam would still be in power. Ghaddafi would still be pursuing his programs, and we would still be looking at terror as a law-enforcement problem. Those are real, important differences.

Now, that's all in the past and doesn't necessarily militate in favor of Bush being re-elected in the future. One might make the argument (as I think you implicitly are) that now that we're already invested in Iraq, installing a Democrat is relatively safe to do, seeing as how Kerry has expressed a desire to "see it through."

But I still think you're wrong. I do not believe Kerry will even try to extend the fight to Syria or Iran when the time comes. I haven't seen anything about him that suggests he would defy the UN or take the political heat necessary to take truly bold action. The guy is more of a weathervane than even Clinton was. He doesn't have bold visions for what needs to be accomplished. I believe he'll lead day-toi-day according to polls and resolutions, and that's the last thing we need now.

Posted by: Russell Wardlow at June 25, 2004 04:11 PM

Using your logic, a Republican should never be elected President. Furthermore, Clinton never received 50% of the vote in either election. How in the hell was he a uniter? If you think Dems calling Repubs Nazis and Brown Shirts is your idea of uniting, then think again. Humorous post otherwise.

Posted by: Laddy at June 25, 2004 04:11 PM

If Bush is defeated it will be a defeat for the policy of preemption. If you think this policy is correct, and that the war on terror is the most important issue in this election, Bush is the only rational choice.

Posted by: David W Justus at June 25, 2004 04:15 PM

Interesting points in your commentary.

One thought is that in a few days, Americans will no longer be occupying Iraq but will instead be there at the invitation of the Iraqi government. Still, for the country to be stabilized will require a commitment of the Europeans in both manpower and money. Otherwise Iraq will become the only battle in the war leaving Syria, et al to plot bigger things.

The Europeans aren't going to work with GWB....no how, no way. Maybe Kerry would have a chance at making the War a truly global effort. But the risk is that Kerry could sell us out, a scenario unlikely under a Bush second term.

Posted by: madhatter at June 25, 2004 04:16 PM

"Kerry... carries none of the baggage on Iraq and terrorism that now so weighs down George Bush. Come 2005 this will allow him to employ strategies to fight terrorism that are closed to the Bush Administration. Should the need arise, John Kerry will be able to do everything that George Bush could do in the war on terror, and then some."

This appears to be the strongest point you make-- and it's potentially a persuasive argument for a hawkish single-voter like me. Having more, not fewer, options is always the preferred political state, and Bush's bold and in many ways heroic refusal to continue spouting the same BS on Iraq has had the effect of closing off many options.

We no longer have much credibility with the Iraqis. We can't persuade any NATO members (I wouldn't call the French and Germans "allies") to ante up more troops. We have lost leverage over Iran. This doesn't doom the Bush administration's efforts but it does highlight the costs that we have paid and will pay for their diplomatic tin ear.

However, you overreach when you say Clinton united the country. Neither were the stakes high during the Clinton holiday from history. He made war on Bosnia, which was child's play compared to the multi-front, indeed global, ground war we're fighting now. He turned tail and ran from Somalia. He was completely hamstrung in pursuing AQ by his lack of clout over or credibility with the military. Not a good example of effectiveness.

More importantly, it's not clear to me that Kerry would intelligently exercise the options that he would have. You could say that, just as during the COld War only Repubs could make peace with Chinese communists, now only the Dems can bring along euro-pacifists and leftish US isolationists into supporting our global war.

Could, maybe, but WOULD he? Would it take Kerry three+ years, as it did Carter, to figure out how to use force vigorously and effectively?

If the man can't figure out, a full year later, which way he stands on the current war, what reason is there to believe that he can act decisively in the next crisis (Saudi blowup, Iranian nukes, Dr Khan giving nuke technology to AQ...)?

Nice theory, but Kerry's the wrong Dem. Biden--maybe. Lieberman--probably. In a weird way, even Dean would probably turn out to be a tougher war president than Kerry. But there's absolutely nothing in Kerry's record over the last 35 years to indicate any real steadiness of purpose or courage.

regards,
thibaud

Posted by: thibaud at June 25, 2004 04:17 PM

You ignore Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican president. He fought a "small" war -- with the country as split as it is now.

Do you really think that Adlai Stevenson would have conquered North Korea and reunited the Korean penisula?

Do you really think that Hubert Humphrey would not have retreated from South Vietnam? Remember that Eugene McCarthy, that noted anti war Democrat, who got Lyndon Johnson to not run again. Remember it was Democrats in Congress in 1974 who refused to allow the US to help South Vietnam.

Do you really think that those who oppose the war now will support it because John Kerry is President? Do you really think that John Kerry would expand the war?

I see no end to the division in the US, even with a Kerry win.

Posted by: Andy at June 25, 2004 04:18 PM

Broadly speaking, I see Bush as a man who feels very confident in his principles and who didn't have a particular craving to be President, but the opportunity presented itself and he took it. And he's been acting pretty much in accord with his principles regardless of whether they were popular or not. And it's gotten him hatred.

Kerry seems to be a man who has no particularly strong principles but has a real lust to be President. He is notorious for being a flip-flopper and if elected he may well out-Clinton Clinton when it comes to government-by-poll. His primary goal will be to stay popular, and he may never have the negative poll ratings that a determined man of principle like Bush will have. But he also, in my opinion, has shown nothing that leads me to think he is capable of wise leadership in the war against islamism or most anything else.

It also bothers me that there is a photo of him in a communist Vietnamese war museum, giving him credit for helping to turn the American public against the Vietnam war. A photo that has been there for decades. He's a hero to the Vietnamese communists, and while I'm sure he doesn't enjoy that fact, I don't care to think of his photo being displayed in some islamic fascist government's war museum someday as a monument to his help in defeating America in our current war. That's probably not a fair criticism but there is something off-putting about a man who helped demoralize our country in a fight against totalitarians.

I am going to vote for Bush because he has been unshakeable in his determination to carry out the war. I'm not going to penalize the man for doing what needed doing and making enemies in the process. And I would hope that he would press ahead with whatever needed doing regardless of his popularity ratings. If anyone would, it's Bush. It sure ain't Kerry.

Posted by: MarkJ at June 25, 2004 04:19 PM

btw, thanks for stimulating a truly interesting and thoughtful debate. A nice antidote to the increasing tendency (myself included) to read only blogs and articles that confirm one's predispositions.

My mind still is not made up on this election-- keep provoking and prodding forward the debate.

thanks,
thibaud

Posted by: thibaud at June 25, 2004 04:21 PM

Agh!!!

I'm so frustrated with short-sighted people! Kerry as President is so NOT what our country needs right now.

Posted by: Thomas at June 25, 2004 04:25 PM

I doubt that Kerry could (or would) immediately leave Iraq or abandon Israel. But those are positions he's inheriting from Bush. What about destroying Iran's nuclear program before it turns into another North Korea? Or millitary intervention in Sudan to prevent a horrible genocide? What's the next step in the Middle East? Will there be a next step?

Even if Kerry's footing is firm enough to avoid falling backward, can he move forward against the expressed wishes of the people who now support him most vocally? This isn't about quibbling over abstract issues of WOT strategy. It's about whether we're actually going to suck it up and win the war or just rationalize and posture and pretend we're winning.

Posted by: Bryan C at June 25, 2004 04:25 PM

Well, will Kerry fight? That's the question. You and Walter Russel Meade are ignoring the presidency of Jimmy Carter. Carter wouldn't fight, and we got the Iranian hostage crisis, the invasion of Afganistan by the Soviets, the SS-20's in Europe and the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. Presidential leadership should not be assumed to exist- the president has to provide it. Jimmy Carter DID NOT follow the foreign policy of Gerald Ford or Richard Nixon. You may like Carter's foreign policy choices- but you have to agree that they were different than what Ford would have done- and certainly different than Reagan. When some Cambodian rebels took the crew of the SS Mayaguez hostage, Ford bombed Cambodia and sent in the Marines. We got out hostages back within a week. Carter let the Iranians imprison our embassy staff for over a year. Carter did not respond to the Soviet nuclear escalation in Europe- Reagan did. The Sandanistas won in Nicaragua because Carter ignored the Monroe doctrine and the policy of previous Presidents like Lyndon Johnson (Johnson ordered the invasion the Dominican Republic in 1965). In short, Presidents DO NOT have to follow the policy of their predecessors, even if it is a good policy. Eisenhower did not have to go along with conatainment. He did- but he chose to do so. He made the decision. Is John Kerry like Jimmy Carter? Will he pursue a radically different policy in the war than George Bush? We have to look at Kerry's record rather than just assuming he will do what we would like. We have Kerry's anti- war activism in the 70's, which was pretty virulent. We have his congressional record in the 1980's, when he voted against most of the military reforms and weapons that have made our armed forces dominant. Also, he did not advocate opposing the Soviets in anything buy a diplomatic way. Kerry very firmly opposed Reagan's proxy wars against the Soviets in Nicaragua, Afganistan and elsewhere. In short, when we faced the Soviets, Kerry didn't want to fight. Has he changed? That is the question. If we get Senator Kerry, we are not going to win the war as long as he serves as president. Will a President Kerry be different?

Posted by: John at June 25, 2004 04:26 PM

Would Slick Willie's America be nearly as divided as the one presided over by Bumbling George?

Slick Willie's America WAS as divided as the one presided over by W.

Posted by: R C Dean at June 25, 2004 04:27 PM

Anothe angle on this is the poli sci professors' "constraint" approach: which forces/characters will constrain Kerry? which constrain Bush?

Dan Drezner thinks Chirac would be the main constraint on Kerry. Rumsfeld seems to be the main constraint on Bush. So who is more damaging to US interests, Rumsfeld or Chirac?

Chirac was, and seems pretty clearly to remain, a passive foe of US policy in the middle east. His admin signed multi-billion $ oil deals covering 1/3 of Iraq's reserves in late 2002. His admin remains the strongest champion of undermining any effective containment of Iran. And he is torpedoing even minimal NATO help in improving Iraqi security--even though we've met all of the French demands regarding UN involvement and a timely handover with real Iraqi sovereignty!

As to Rumsfeld, his screwups have contributed greatly to the security failures we see now and, of course, to the PR disaster that is Abu Ghraib. Fairly or not, he's at least as much of a liability as an asset-- which is saying a lot, considering the brilliant and radical overhaul of force structure and deployment he's pushing through. (For that alone he'll be remembered in the history books as one of our greatest DoD secretaries.)

If Bush had the courage and daring to sack Rumsfeld (while ensuring the continuation of the force structure and deployment overhaul he launched), then I'd give the advantage to Bush.

If Kerry would come out and declare that France is in fact not an ally-- indeed, is working against us int he middle east-- and that the UNSC needs to be replaced with a body that gives much more clout to Asia and much less to the euros, then I'd take Kerry seriously. But not so long as he continues to delude himself that Al Qaeda is just another Mafia and that France is an ally.

t

Posted by: thibaud at June 25, 2004 04:31 PM

Aren't you basically saying that Republicans can be counted on to support the country and the WoT if a Democrat is in office, but not vice versa? This argument lets the Democrats who would rather control the White House than have the U.S. remain safe and secure off the hook. Not a good precedent. Rather Kerry and the Democratic party should be punished for undermining Bush and creating the division in the country, not rewarded!

Posted by: James at June 25, 2004 04:32 PM

This would be correct IF people were willing to listen to Bush at all. While I disliked Clinton, I would listen to him when he said something and weigh it on its merrits. Therefore, I sometimes supported him even though I thought he was a bad President.

With Bush, however, I think the Democrats would argue and call him a liar if he said the sky was blue. Neither side has worked as hard as they could toward uniting, therefore, it's hardly fair to blame Bush for the divisivness of the country right now and the fact that many don't support the war. Clinton would have gotten the support of many who are current against it because he was a Democrat. Bush will never get their support even if there were flashing neon signs.

Posted by: Carstairs at June 25, 2004 04:33 PM

I belive ou are missing two important points:

1. Clinton would never have ”ridd the planet of one of the most brutal dictators in history” in the first place!

Here is my (somewhat simplistiv) model: The general public is in heart basically behind the common sense foreign policy Bush is pursuing. But the educated elite isn’t, because if their UN/Euro-ideology, where violence never solves anything and where the west is the root of all evil.

Since these people to a large degree control the debate they can influence the public a lot: The media is spreading the myth that there never was any connection between Saddam and terrorism.
They have conveyed the image that people in Iraq have it worse today than before the invasion, as the horrible situation before the invasion is only an abstract point whereas the violence today is shown in detail. Ad to this the daily barrage of books, movies (Farenheit, Day after tomorrow), editorials used to attack Bush. The quality is low, but the quantity overwhelming.

Now Clinton, unlike Bush, did have the support of the intellectual elites. But this was *conditional* on the policies he was following. If he actually HAD gone into Iraq they would have turned against him too.

2. This election is a test of history, because of the *signal* th results will send. If Bush gives away a given electoral victory because of his courage and unselfishness in Iraq, no president (at least no first term president) for at least a generation will dare follow a hard foreign policy. No one will dare be tough on Iran for building a nuke, you will be politically paralyzed until they actually use it. Just like Clinton didn’t act against Bin Laden before 9/11.

I have lost all hope for Europe, I just pray come november that the US still is a nation where liberating 50 million people will not be punished for being a "divider".

Posted by: Teller at June 25, 2004 04:34 PM

"No matter what George Bush does, no matter how long he remains President, about half of America will oppose him, and a significant minority will do so at every turn."

Wait a minute... couldn't the same be said for Clinton? Clinton was not a 'uniter'. Clinton bitterly divided this country. Clinton so bitterly divided this country that his Vice President couldn't even manage to win his own state. Clinton was deeply deeply hated in much of America in the same fashion that GWB is deeply deeply hated in SF, NY, LA and so forth. If you think that the country would be united behind Clinton right now, regardless of Clinton's take on this, you are deeply delusional. This is a President that the country tried to impeach over a sexual piccadillo that he lied to Congress over, imagine how Clinton's opponents might have felt over his failure to prevent 9-11 after X number of years in office.

Given that, I think you are being deeply delusional to imagine that the country is just going to unite behind John Kerry. Kerry gives alot of people the willies. My father in-law, Vietnam Vet, would calls him 'Hanoi John' and I think would happily spit on the man. If Kerry gets elected, he's going to be lucky not to be shot.

Then again, if you read the Democratic Underground boards, you get the same feeling about Bush.

The closest thing to a candidate that might have been able to unite the country was Leiberman, and he only got 3% of his own parties vote - which tells you how much the Democrats would be willing to get behind a politically moderate candidate. At best, Leiberman would have left everyone feeling luke warm and wary. At worst, everyone would have hated him.

Posted by: celebrim at June 25, 2004 04:35 PM

The attitudes expressed in this article seem to represent the typical John Kerry supporter - they treat the Democrat's candidate as a hollow vessel into which they can pour all of their hopes and dreams. What would Kerry do on national defense - it's hard to say. He's going to say the right things now to get elected, but will he follow through. What bothers me most is that he doesn't seem to get it - he either declares he will do the opposite of Bush, or declare that he'll do him one better. That doesn't represent to me that he has a firm grasp on the issues. What will Kerry do once Bush is out of office, and thus not there to give Kerry someone to immitate or rebuke?

The way I see it - the extremists on both side of the aisle think Bush is alternatively too hard or too soft on Iraq and the War on Terror. My experience tells me this probably means he is right where he needs to be - no too far one way or the other, but rather taking things as they come and dealing with them the best we can. That's how wars are won.

Posted by: John S at June 25, 2004 04:37 PM

If Lieberman or even Gephardt had gotten the nomination, you'd have a great point. But you saw how far both of them got in today's Democratic Party.

Should the need arise, John Kerry will be able to do everything that George Bush could do in the war on terror, and then some."

Having the ability to do something and actually doing it are completely different things. GWB has shown me that, if nothing else, he is going to be a bulldog and take the fight to our enemies. While I hope and pray that if Kerry wins he will do the same, there is absolutely nothing in his 30+ years of public life that lead me to believe he will. AT BEST a Kerry presidency would mean a stalemate in the WOT, with a reversal in progress being almost a certainty. The idea of doing anything about Syria and Iran, something I am fully expecting in a 2nd Bush term, would go up in smoke with Kerry.

Nice idea, and if Kerry gets elected I hope you are right, but it seems like a pipe dream to me.

Posted by: HoustonF at June 25, 2004 04:38 PM

Bush is a divider?

Do you recall his support numbers just before the Democrats began their primaries?

They were in the 60s and 70s.

What has divided us is the Democrats and their media cronies who have a vested interest in dividing us by making Iraq out to be a disaster, by blaming every small misstep on Bush, and magnifying every minor problem into disaster.

I do not have my head in the sand. I recall who divided us and it wasnt Bush.

Posted by: Dude at June 25, 2004 04:39 PM

We are looking here at only America, and there is a bigger picture. I am living in Ireland which is much more socialist than I imagined before coming here to work. That's OT-- however, if an attack remotely approaching the magnitude of 9/11 occurs in Europe -- especially London or Paris, these people would be all over themselves begging Bush to fix it for them. They like Kerry because he is ineffectual but they know he would not be able to come to their aid. This WoT is not about the US, it is about the survival of Western Civilization with no help from Old Europe whatsoever. France is Muslim, London and Birmingham are Muslim. I've seen arabic grafitti in Bray, County Wicklow twelve miles south of Dublin for goodness sake! Look at the BIG picture and tell me you want Kerry in office. I'd rather have Hillary, may God strike me dead for saying so.

Posted by: Babs at June 25, 2004 04:40 PM

You are making the huge assumption that the 50% who are not for Bush are reasonable Americans. A whole lot of that wrong half are far from reasonable, so why do you care what they think?

Posted by: maxwellsmart at June 25, 2004 04:40 PM

Let's face it, neither of these guys has much in the way of real intelligence, vision or leadership traits.

The ultimate test will have to be one of political skill and daring. For Bush, that would mean moving up the elections--and ensuring Iraq gets what it needs in the way of security and international support so that their elections come off smoothly.

For Kerry, that would mean persuading those of us in his party who are appalled by the morphing of Gore into a raving fool, and the anointment of Michael Moore as the soul of the party, that he completely renounces their lies and paranoia. Sister Souljah time, in other words.

Clinton bucked the welfare lobby and showed some sanity on abortion (make abortion "safe legal and rare"). Will Kerry distance himself from the moveon.org idiots who are destroying my party?

If he does so repeatedly and convincingly, then he has my vote. If not, then this national-security Democrat will have no choice but to vote for Bush.

Posted by: thibaud at June 25, 2004 04:44 PM

I think Bigwig has provided yet another example of the extremely dry humor for which he is famous.

At least that's what I think. If not, there are numerous fallacies in the argument, namely:

1. Clinton as a uniter. It's true most Americans liked Clinton; after all, he is a likeable guy. However, respecting him or voting for him or following him in dark times are different stories. As others have pointed out, Clinton never got more than 50% of the vote in either of his two victories.

2. Kerry as a leader. The man has never led anyone anywhere since he returned from Viet Nam. His entire political career has been one of shameless opportunism. It's doubtful he would be able to provide the type of leadership that would weather heavy casualties or battlefield setbacks. Think of replacing Churchill with Chamberlain.

3. Approval ratings as evidence of leadership. Speaking of Churchill, he got voted out at the end of WWII. I remember a time when George Bush, both pere and fils, had approval ratings in the 90% range. And I especially remember news stories of an "embattled" Ronald Reagan, fighting "public perceptions" that he was an incompetent warmonger. Polls are overrated.

4. Abraham Lincoln. It is supremely ironic that you would include a quote from President Lincoln, who next to George Bush was probably the most hated and reviled wartime president in US history. Lincoln, who, like Bush, did not win a majority of votes, was disliked by members of his own cabinet, and is hated by many in the South to this very day. Lincoln was not popular until it was obvious the North was going to win, and he was not "beloved" until John Wilkes Booth blew his brains out.

Bush is a leader. Kerry is not. Your suggestion that Kerry would be a better choice is not only invalid, but downright dangerous.

Posted by: Captain Holly at June 25, 2004 04:45 PM

Sufficient groundwork has been laid by the media and the DNC that any future failures in Iraq (including the catastrophic results of a premature withdrawal of forces) will be blamed on Bush. I don't really think it's the case that Kerry will be constrained by public opinion in dealing with Iraq. There's not as much of a downside for him as there might appear.

I'm reminded of his statement in 1971 that "we cannot fight communism all over the world, and I think we should have learned that lesson by now." He was perfectly content to resign millions to that slavish existence for decades if not generations. Lack of vision, lack of courage. He's been wrong on every significant foreign policy issue I can think of.

Not true of all Democrats, mind you. If Lieberman were the nominee I'd drop Bush like a hot rock (disappointed social liberal-fiscal conservative). But as others have pointed out, the Democrats didn't have the sense to nominate him.

Posted by: DrSteve at June 25, 2004 04:47 PM

After writing a mini- screed, I'm wondering if Bigwig isn't @#$%ing with us.

Posted by: John at June 25, 2004 04:51 PM

By this logic, you would have voted for George McClellan over Abraham Lincoln in 1864. Is that right, Bigwig?

Actually you don't have to go back that far. Reagan was demonized just as much as W. We now know Reagan was right. I suspect time will vindicate W as well (unless he goes wobbly).

I don't know if W is the right man, but I know that Kerry isn't. Since Curtis LeMay isn't running this year, I'll take W.

On to Tehran!

Posted by: Atlanta Lawyer at June 25, 2004 04:55 PM

The fatal flaw in the analysis set forth in the main post is that the question must be asked "Why is it that Clinton and Kerry are 'uniters' while W. is not?" I am very much afraid that the answer is that Kerry and Clinton did not and do not believe in anything and, therefore, are free to fashion rhetoric which is pleasing to the greatest number. Therefore, Kerry, like Clinton before him, will talk a very good game on fighting terror but actually do nothing.

For example, it is often forgotten that W.J. Clinton made "regim change" in Iraq the official policy of the US. Dem. Senators who voted against the Bush admin. request for authorization of force against Iraq in October of 2002 voted in favor of a much broader language during Clinton's time. In many cases, Clinton's rhetoric was much more beligerent than anything put out by the Bush administration in the lead up to war. The reason that that rhetoric is forgotten now is that, even at the time, nobody really believed Clinton would do anything. Kerry's rhetoric has the same quality. Thus, Micheal Moore supports Kerry even though Kerry claims he will be tougher on UBL and friends than Bush.

So, how is it that Kerry is able to "unite" the support of both Michael Moore and Bigwig? Bigwig evidently believes that Kerry will pursue the w.o.t. with the same vigor as Bush but with more political success. Moore believes that Kerry will abandon the w.o.t. and concentrate on achieving a socialist utopia in the US. Both cannot be correct. Personally, I suspect Moore knows his man better than Bigwig.

Posted by: BMcBurney at June 25, 2004 04:56 PM

The problem with the central point in this post is that the WoT isn't the central issue that should be concerning everyone. Medical research is - particularly stem cell research and therapeutic cloning.

Consider that something like 2000 US citizens die every day from varieties of heart disease. 2000 PEOPLE EVERY DAY. Up until early 2004, the FDA had been blocking trials of a demonstrated, working stem cell based therapy for heart disease.

For the past few years, the US administration has been threatening to ban therapeutic cloning, a technology essential to both embryonic and most adult stem cell work. Private funding is mostly scared away as a result. We are five years behind now.

That's just the tip of the iceberg. But the death toll already dwarfs anything that a bunch of Islamic terrorists can do.

100,000 people worldwide die every day of conditions that will largely be curable in 20 years time. (And another 50,000 of things that shouldn't happen now, but that's another rant). Five years of delay in regenerative medicine means that a quarter of a billion people are doomed to die unnecessarily over the next few decades.

Just putting things in perspective.

Posted by: Reason at June 25, 2004 05:08 PM

Of all the insane reasons for supporting John Kerry, this is the nuttiest. Kerry has been an opponent of as stong US milatary and foreign policy since his failed service in Viet Nam. He has voted to gut the CIA and the milirary. He has no prinicples beyond what will get him elected. Bush has assembled the most competent team ever and we would be fools to throw them out before they finish the job. Get real!
For links to news, views, politics, and government, bookmark All Things Political.

Posted by: All Things Political at June 25, 2004 05:13 PM

What I don't get is the basis of Bigwig's entire train of thought- that is, that Bush has made tons of mistakes in the WARI (how about that- the "War against Radical Islam"- like that better?). I must be living in a paralell universe because I just don't see what major mistakes he has made. Afghanistan free, Taliban toast- check. Saddam gone, Iraqis free & about to run their own roost- check. Libya's WMD program dismantled & Pakistan out of the nuke-selling biz- check. Most Arab countries starting to work on joining the rest of the modern world with some sort of representative democray- check. Other than bogus NY Times/WaPo/CNN/CBS spin, what exactly did Bush screwup? The prison "abuse" scandal? As if! No WMDs? Who really cares- Saddam's Iraq was part of the We-Heart-BinLaden Club, whether there was proof that Saddam & Osama ever slept together or not. Come on, somebody please help me here....Yes, Bush's domestic policies are way too extreme for many, including myself, but unless we have leadership that stops our enemy from making a large whole in the ground in a US city or spreading some horrible bioattack, gay marriage & stem cell research aren't going to too terribly important to those of us who are around to deal with the aftermath.

Posted by: Alan M. at June 25, 2004 05:13 PM

A selection of John Kerry's foreign policy highlights:

In 1970 he advocated putting the US military under the control of the UN, aka give veto power over US troop deployments to the Chinese and USSR at the height of the Cold War

Presented false testimony to congress with the desire to sap political will in the fight in Vietnam, AFTER we had won the military part of the war (if you believe that Tet was the turning point, as I do).

As Senator, he got suckered by Nicaragua's tin-pot marxist dictator, who promised to reject the Soviets if the US would cut support to the Contras. The day after congress bought into Kerry's promise that they only wanted peace and a worker's paradise, Ortega flew to Moscow to collect a $200 million loan package.

He voted against the 91 gulf war, and only voted for the 2003 action because he says that he was tricked by Bush, and that he would NOT have voted for it if he knew Bush was serious. There you have it -- if Kerry were in charge, Saddam would not only still be in power, he'd still be in Kuwait!

In the end, Kerry's foreign policy history reads like what the far-left actually screams for. He'd be completely useless in the WoT or anything else.

Posted by: Ursus at June 25, 2004 05:17 PM

It's about class and leadership.

There are many who think GWB is a good leader because he's firm and strong. I say he's not. He's a divider.

A good leader is able to rally people around his view points and ideas. Arguably, GWB has had zero success at this. Everything about him is still 50/50, just like it was during the election.

Clinton may have serious moral issues, but he was able to sell an idea. Same with Reagan.

GWB doesn't know how to sell an idea. He's too small minded to understand the other's position, and therefore understanding how to get them to see his viewpoint. Instead he relies on a us versus them rheotric and lies. It's about being a second/third rate oilman. This US needs a strong leader able to understand why your a making critical decisions and a leader with class and poise to sell the ideas to those who don't immediately buy in.

FDR had it. Reagan had it. Clinton had it. Both Bush definitely don't have it.

GWB is an New England blue-blood who approach to problems has always been to have someone clean up his mess. He doesn't know to manage. And how to lead.

And I truly believe that leader of the United States cannot hold a fundalmentalist religious position. Those who have reached tha position are incapable of moderating the rest of the country.

Posted by: Cody at June 25, 2004 05:29 PM

John writes, Presidential leadership should not be assumed to exist- the president has to provide it.

I agree, but there's more to it. A president also has to have a staff and advisors that have the experience and attitude that can respond to the times. By way of example, even if a President Al Gore had seen the need to 1) remove the Taliban from Afghanistan and 2) liberate Iraq from Saddam, what would his staff have done? Presidents don't point to staffers and say, "you, you and you, get this done." Presidents solicit advice, listen to arguments, read briefing papers, and then make a decision. I honestly don't think that a well-meaning Pres. Gore would have had a staff that would have said, "Hokay, Boss, you want Saddam removed, we'll get it done." More likely it would have been (with all respect and sincerity), "Cheez, Boss, you sure you want to do that? I can think of twenty things that can go wrong: let me list them."

Likewise, even if a President Kerry wants to respond in a "forceful" way to the situation in Iran, Syria or North Korea (define "forceful" however you wish), I don't see him surrounding himself with the type of advisors and staff that would see that as a good idea. I don't mean that as a disparaging statement, I mean as a reflection on the types of people he's likely to attract to his administration -- their world-view simply doesn't cotton to the view of a Rumsfeld or a Wolfowitz. They're going to be much more attuned to "working with the U.N.", to "multi-lateralism", to getting the French on board before committing to a policy (good luck there), and to keeping the "Democratic wing" of the Democratic party happy. That will be, after all, a President Kerry's firmest political support base, and you alienate your base at your peril.

In short: if you presume John Kerry to be a leader (a question you can debate), and if you also presume that he's going to be a "forceful" leader that can confront terror-states in the WoT, he will be successful only if he surrounds himself with people who will let him do just that. I see no evidence that he will, and thus am not inclined to support him this fall. I could be wrong.

One other poster thanked Bigwig for offering a serious, sober argument, and I join in the thanks -- it's intellectually tiring to listen to the yahoos on both sides, the looney left and the blustering right, yammer away with little comprehension of how true statecraft is done.

Posted by: Steve White at June 25, 2004 05:30 PM

If Kerry wants my vote, he's going to have to provide a lot more leadership on the WOT than he has demonstrated so far. He needs to be denouncing the Islamofascists at every turn. He needs to be exhalting the country to be more concerned about the WOT, he needs to hold France up as an example of how not to do business with the USA. He needs to demand that the UN come clean on the OIF scandal. He needs to be a more strident leader than Bush. He might get my vote then.

However, all I see is "Bush is a failure", "I'd get more international support than GWB can muster." "We have to focus on the law enforcement side of things". Hell, we can't get Moussaui(?) convicted. How would another 5000 cases dumped on our justice system ever sort it out.

Bush and the USA have made some serious errors in fighting a kind of war that has never been fought before. This isn't like Vietnam or Kosovo or any other conflict.We should expect mistakes. I ask myself "If mistakes are going to be made, would I rather suffer Bush's than Kerry's?" There is just no contest. The mistakes made by a principled man who lives by his convictions, is my man. Bush doesn't need to be president and he may lose this election because he is a man of conviction. Kerry has only one conviction, the same as Slick Willie. "Man, I need to be President."

Posted by: EddieP at June 25, 2004 05:33 PM

You are all forgetting something rather important :

If Kerry wins, in four years he'll be up for re-election. If Bush wins, in four years he won't. So, if it comes down to making tough choices in the war on terror, who is more likely to stick with his principles, and who is more likely to waffle in the face public criticism?

Besides, you seem to think that pulling out of Iraq and Afghanistan and abandoning Isreal are the only wrong decisions Kerry could make. That seems rather naive. There are plenty of other important decisions looming - ones that Kerry won't have the benefit of established policy forcing his hand on. Syria, Iran, and North Korea are just the ones I can foresee. I'm more worried about the ones I can't.

Posted by: Jason at June 25, 2004 05:49 PM

Great post Bigwig. I am a first time visitor to your site.

This country is incredibly more divided than it was in the Clinton era and any change at this point can only make things better. If things go any worse in Iraq, it will no longer be divided, the majority will want to see Bush out, not just the current 50%.

It is just amazing the number of people that think, "so what if the rest of the world hates us". When will we wake up and realize that we are breeding terrorists by having this mentality?

Most of the world and somewhere near 50% of this country can't are looking for Curious George to fail. Like or dislike Kerry, the rest of the world will at least give Kerry a chance. Curious George has isolated us from the rest of the world, and we are positioned to fail in seeing a stable democracy ever set foot in Iraq. We can't go this course alone, and until we actually get substantial troops on the ground from additional countries, we can expect Iraq to be Al Qaeda training grounds for years to come.

Posted by: Trebz at June 25, 2004 06:03 PM

Someone above mentioned that Kerry would be lucky to not get shot. Maybe we should hope he picks Edwards as his running mate and, if he gets elected, cross our fingers and hope that's what happens?

Posted by: Jennifer at June 25, 2004 06:03 PM

Simply put, if GW Bush is not re-elected, in the eyes of the world it would be a huge repudiation of the invasion of Iraq. That would undermine, and perhaps destroy, the very reason we undertook it.

If you supported, as I did, the invasion of Iraq, ask yourself: would John Kerry have done it? It was the biggest political gamble Bush could have possibly made, and he did it because he thought it was the right thing to do. Face it: had anyone else been in the White House (Gore, Clinton, Kerry, Bush Sr.) Saddam would still be in power.

For everyone, Republican or Democrat, who believes in the War on Terror but has complaints about Bush (and I have plenty myself), it's time for YOU to suck it up and do the right thing at this moment in world history, and put George W Bush back in the White House.

Posted by: George at June 25, 2004 06:12 PM

All of this is a desperate attempt to avoid the stark truth.

America will not unite in the WOT until there has been another terrorist attack on American soil.

Right now, human psychology dictates the ease with which those who are inclined to do so can dismiss 9/11 as an aberration. Having been there on that day, such dismissal is impossible for me.

We thought, after 9/11, that there was no way that the Chomskyites and the Mooreheads could dismiss the reality of the threat. We were wrong, and millions are now marching to those pipers' fatuous tunes.

It's going to have to happen again before the truth sinks in, and it's going to have to cost many, many thousands of American lives.
Which, I can tell you, makes me shudder on a daily basis. I work three blocks from Ground Zero, and am continually confronted with the 16-acre truth that should have utterly destroyed the lies of the disloyal opposition...but didn't.

Posted by: Ian Wood at June 25, 2004 06:13 PM

Golly. This post has actually brought me more into the Bush camp than when I came in!

The original post was a good one, and was along the same lines as one of my trains of thought. However, I was also weighing the fact that a "disuniting" dynamic followed all the "Greats" -- Lincoln, Churchill and Reagan. Why? Because it is very, very difficult to effect a paradigm shift in the body politic when it becomes necessary to do so. (Similar to Kuhn's problem with scientific paradigm shifts.)

Decide for yourself what the correct course of action is, then pick the person who is MOST LIKELY going to execute your will. In terms of the War against Islamofascism, I am highly certain that history is on the side of Bush. I am also very aware of Kerry's detailed voting record and I know that he is definitely NOT the person to see this war through successfully. I agree with the posts about Lieberman and Gephardt. I also agree with the poster that, if the Democrats were in the mood to unite anything, one of those men would have been the sensible choice for the DNC. Sorry, not this time. There are people fighting this latest paradigm shift very hard and those people have infected the DNC.

This social-liberal, economic conservative, and foreign policy hawk will probably get Bush's vote.

Posted by: Nicole Tedesco at June 25, 2004 06:15 PM

This was a joke right?

Who the hell would want Bill "No, I don't want to arrest Osama Bin Laden" Clinton as Commander-in-Chief in the war of terror?

Or who would want John F'n Kerry, who has the political spine of a wet noodle, to lead us in these times of war?

No thanks, I will be voting Bush, as will anyone who is serious about winning the war on terror.

Posted by: Johan at June 25, 2004 06:23 PM

"No matter what George Bush does, no matter how long he remains President, about half of America will oppose him, and a significant minority will do so at every turn."

"On the other hand, if John Kerry is elected President, and those who now say they support the War on Terrorism continue to do so--even though they might disagree with some of strategies deployed to fight it--then on this question at least the country will be united to a degree not seen since the halcyon days of the late 90s."

In other words, Republicans are willing to put the interests of the country above partisan politics, and Democrats aren't. Nice. Remind me again why the Democratic party should be trusted with anything, ever again?

Posted by: Deoxy at June 25, 2004 06:26 PM

Wow. You take Bob Dole's criticism of Democrat wars, which was basically saying that they get us into wars because their weakness and vacillation invite agression, and spin it as a positive reason to vote for the Democrat.

That's like hiring a CEO who bankrupted 3 companies because he "has experience".

Posted by: Reid at June 25, 2004 06:32 PM

The Democrats wanted to settle with the South during the Civil War. This could have been by Scott Ott. In fact, I think it was.

Want to feel like you dodged a bullet? Think of Crazy Al Gore as president. Man, that was a close one.

Posted by: Rightwinger at June 25, 2004 06:49 PM

The fact is this: Democrats have, since they lost the 2002 elections, utilized a scorched earth attack plan that has divided this nation.

The war on terror (which includes Iraq) should not even be a partisan issue. However, they will do and say anything to gain power, including manufacturing scandals.

Why is there no scandal about the memo discussing obstructing judicial appointments? They see a drop of blood then hold press conferences claiming victory--then two days later the truth comes out. e.g. the NYTimes saying no ties between Iraq and al-Queda then only a week later they publish an article saying bin Laden had contacts AND collaboration with Uday Hussein.

If you run up a list of the accusations next to what actually is true, there is no mistaking that Bush has done a good job (not excellent) but good job in handing three tough issues without batting an eye: the war on terror, the economy and the Democrats.

You can only have unity if both parties reach across the aisle. What republicans now attack bush about (like the prescription drug benefit bill and no child left behind) was simply him reaching across the aisle. Just because the Dems are ingrates doesn't mean the effort wasn't made.

If you're gonna vote against bush then vote for Nader because the Dems are salivating at the chance to get their hands on the intelligence and military services because they can then use the war on terror to justify the "policing the world" and "humanitarian" efforts as simply fighting the war on terror.

blech, your post is good but wrought with unsubstantiated doubt.

Posted by: Aaron Matthew Arnwine at June 25, 2004 06:52 PM

What you are really saying is that the Democratic Party is in such a fallen state that, if Kerry loses, it will oppose Bush and further undermine the War on Terror (as it has done for at least the past year) out of partisan resentment. As a former Democrat, I am shamed to admit that you may be right.

In opposition, the Democratic Party, at least since Vietnam, has tended to become completely irresponsible on foreign policy issues. Harry Truman, LBJ, and Scoop Jackson are truly dead, alas.

I sometimes think that Kerry, who was a combat sailor, might surprisingly turn out to be a hawk once in the White House. But when you look at his party, that idea seems fanciful. He would constantly have to be appeasing the left wing of the party to forestall a primary challenge in 2008 by Howard Dean or someone who would claim that Kerry had betrayed the party and voters by conducting a swaggering, Rumsfeldian foreign policy.

If Bush wins or if he loses, I do not anticipate another cliffhanger as in 2000. This country must decide if it is serious about bin Laden and Islamist terrorism.

If Kerry is elected (regardless of his most secret wishes), this country will have show that it lacks the spine to resist Islamist intimidation and violence.

The election of Kerry would be as if FDR, after a year of hearings in 1942 assessing blame for Pearl Harbor, had been removed for office and replaced by someone convinced that we brought it upon ourselves and that we needed to return to a foreign policy of being every country's friend and no country's enemy.

End the war on terror. Bring the boys (and girls) home. Negotiate more treaties that will alow us to sleep later in the mornings . . . at least for a little while longer.

If you read the Qu'ran and bin Laden's scholarly messages that extensively quote it, you begin to believe that the War on Terror may last 100 years. Either they will kill us, or we will kill them, or Islam will reform and modernize. Which one would you bet on?

Posted by: Joseph F. McNulty at June 25, 2004 07:14 PM

Just one quibble. I see this meme all the time, but what else could have Bush done to get France and Germany on board? We waited 13 months. We showed the intelligence (which turned out to be false, which is besides the point as both Germany and France BEFORE the war said it was valid.) on WMDs. We tried to work through the UN. We tried to work thru NATO. We bent over backwards to get them to assist. The argument has devolved into, if a Democrat was in they'd have agreed. Does anyone seriously believe this? Electing Kerry and his subsequent kowtowing to the UN, France, and Germany, would send a horrible message that if they just remain stubborn they can radically change American foreign policy. That would be in fact a veto on American security.

That the democrats are encouraging this extra national blackmail is one of the most divisive things we can possibly face. That alone would increase the current disagreements into a full blown civil war. The last thing we need is a future nativist nationalist party hellbent on recovering our pride after such a "stab in the back."

The Democrats need to think extra long about the long term effect here.

Posted by: Carroway at June 25, 2004 07:29 PM

If Kerry were to be elected (not very likely), there is little chance that the congressional makeup would change, meaning majorities in both houses for the Republicans. The Republicans would be in no mood to cooperate, support, or negotiate with Kerry or the Democrats. Kerry would get absolutely nothing done domestically and would either be forced to follow the current Bush policies for the war on terror or he would be made to fail miserably at any other attempt.

The Democrats, in their fervor to bring down the Bush Whitehouse, have embittered most Republicans. Their filibusters in the Senate, the travesty of the 9/11 Barnum & Bailey Commission, Ted Kennedy, Al Gore and their ilk have a reckoning ahead whether or not Kerry wins. But if Kerry were to win, he would definately pay the price for all this obscene behavior.

On the other hand, if Bush wins, he will likely forgive everyone and become the great uniter he tried to be when he was first elected. He will forgive all except Robert Byrd, Ted Kennedy, and Jim McDermott - all of whom he will arrest and send to Gitmo where they will be tried and summarily shot for treason.

Posted by: Scaramonga at June 25, 2004 07:37 PM

As a Vietnam Veteran whose service dates are 2 days different from Kerry, I would vote for a yellow dog before I voted for that SOB. I guarantee you that the majority of Vietnam Veterans say the same thing.

Every person who commanded John Kerry, and their commanders up to Commander-In-Chief, Pacific (CINCPAC) has signed a letter, along with 200 or so other Swift Boat sailors, stating that Kerry is not fit to be Command In Chief. To the best of my knowledge, this is the only time in history that the entire chain of command of a soldier has come out in public against him. The coverage given this by the press was poor, with CBS producing a hit piece smearing the veterans, and the story otherwise being treated as so minor that most Americans probably don't even know about it.

Think about it! His entire command chain condemning this man as unfit.

Ask yourself why you haven't hear about this, if you think the media is keeping you informed about the election.

And if you are tempted to say "that was 30 years ago, so what" - just remember that few people are able to change their character, and John Kerry's more recent actions have been consistent with the character shown in the war days.

Kerry has a structural advantage in the "Anybody But Bush" press which has kept many of his worst actions out of the press, or downplayed them.

The problem for the censors of the main stream media is that the information is out there on the net, much of it from unimpeachable sources.

John Kerry sold out his country for the fame he gained with the VVAW, and rode that fame to political power. John Kerry lied repeatedly, viciously and in many subject areas about what his fellow Vietnam Veterans did (whom he ditched after a short 4 months in country), smearing all of us and smearing his country with charges that we routinely engaged in atrocities with the full understanding of all levels of command; that we used weapons against the Vietnamese (he used the term "oriental human beings") that we would never use against Europeans (i.e. a charge of racist war), that we were baby killers, and that we returned from the war psychologically damaged by "things we had been forced to do," and many other charges.

Many Vietnam Vets could not understand how poorly they were treated when they returned home - spat upon (that is NOT a myth - it didn't happen to me but to a close friend), called baby killers, denied employment, treated as potentially dangerous killers, etc. We have John Kerry to thank for that.

He urged that the United States unconditionally surrender to the communists (promising, on behalf of the enemy, safe passage for our surrendered army). He said we could not fight communism everywhere (tell that to Reagan). He estimated that the betrayal of Vietnam to the communists would only cost 3000 lives (the VC, before they were destroyed, took that many civilians out into the killing fields and shot and buried them - just during their short occupation of Hue in 1968, and when South Vietnam fell hundreds of thousands were actually sent to concentration camps and many tens to hundreds of thousands died).

Would you be surprised to know that he met with the enemy at least once (provably) before this, and almost certainly twice? Would you be surprised to know that his organization, the VVAW coordinated its propaganda efforts with the North Vietnamese? Would you be surprised to know that the VVAW had many members who were not actually Vietnam Veterans but rather imposters, and that the problem of the phony Vietnam Vet continues to this day?

Did you know that the Viet Nam War was won militarily by 1970? That by 1972 you could drive rural roads without an escort and not fear attack or mines? That the only reason the communist government took over Vietnam was because Democrat members of congress forbade US military aid to Vietnam after we had pulled out, leaving them without even enough ammunition to defend themselves>

Did you know that the award of Kerry's first purple heart (one of the three that let him bail out of combat early) cannot be explained, and he refuses to authorize the pentagon to open his service records to the public - instead publishing some but not all on his website? That purple heart was awarded for a scratch, but the treating doctor and his CO at the time concluded that no enemy action was involved and denied the request, but somehow he got it anyway.

Kerry's service to the enemy was so valuable that his picture hangs in the Ho Chi Minh City War Remnants Museum's room (as of June 2) for foreigners who aided in the defeat of America, not far from Jane Fonda's. His damaging testimony was so useful to the enemy that just this month, the Vietnam News Agency quoted his atrocity charges (and his name) in a propaganda attack on the United States.

All of these actions are consistent with the character described by thoes who know him best: ambitious and opportunistic.

If you want to vote for a person who sold out his country during war, go for it. But remember, if he does it this time, instead of Vietnamese dying and being enslaved, it will be Americans being attacked.

The charges I made can be substantiated easily.

Go to here for the various charges against Kerry and related links.

Anybody interested can go to wintersoldier.com for the best compendium of evidence and essays about Kerrys wartime and anti-war misdeeds, and also for links to the Swift Boat sailors' web site - they guys who served with him or had the same duty.

If you are a Vietnam Veteran who wants to help clear our nation's and your name, check out Vietnam Vets for the Truth.

We went to war on America's behalf. Most of us were volunteers. Our thanks was to be called baby killers, to be shunned or eyed suspiciously, to be denied employment. And John Kerry was the main reason.

But more importantly, our country's reputation was stained. If Kerry is elected, it will served to validate his lies and make that stain permanent.


Posted by: John Moore (Useful Fools) at June 25, 2004 07:57 PM

He's right. The war in Iraq is too important to be left to an administration that favors loyalty over competence.

Authorizing torture when trying to win the hearts and minds of a country?
Incompetence.

Telling people in the army, the ones with the guns and heavy weapons that after they've surrendered and been promised jobs, they are disbanded and dismissed without so much as a dime?
Incompetence.

CPA hiring techniques leading to no progress on the ground.
Incompetence.

Taking 3 years to fire George Tenet.
Incompetence.

Chalabi games.
Incompetence.

The now laughable UN presentation on WMD.
Incompetence.

Posted by: bago at June 25, 2004 08:37 PM

"Despite his 2000 campaign rhetoric, George Bush is a divider, not a uniter--alienating otherwise natural allies with his stands on issues such as stem-cell research, immigration, free trade, federal spending, privacy, energy policy and yes, even gay marriage."

I've never read your blog before, but this is a joke, right? Bush is a "divider" because he has the gall to take different positions than yours on policy issues?

On the othar hand, I've heard people argue for sillier propositions, so maybe it's not a joke.

Posted by: ScottM at June 25, 2004 08:50 PM

Bush may have all these faults, but as I remember, everyone said the same about Reagan. I would much rather have a president who had principles than one who found his in the latest Time/CNN poll. Electing Kerry would be a disaster for the US foreign policy that would take years to recover from. As far as I'm concerned, if Kerry is elected, expect a terrorist strike on the US using nukes before the end of his first term.

Posted by: El-ahrairah at June 25, 2004 09:50 PM

The problem with your theory, if it's a serious one, is that the Democrat party of 2004 is not the Democrat party of the past. It has become infested with crypto-marxist statists who talk the talk, but don't walk the walk when it comes to defending this country.

Since Jimmy Carter they have gutted our military and appeased North Korea and others. They have ignored genocide in Rwanda and other places. They treated terrorism as a "law enforcement" issue, as Kerry said he would. VClinton dropped the ball on Bid Laden many times and when he had his own 9/11 to deal with, the OKC bombing, he set out to blame it on conservatives and talk radio. How's that for a divider?

Bush made every effort to try to work with Democrats but they have made this whole war into the most ridiculous partisan bash ever. They have effectly helped our enemies by making us look weak and unwilling to fight tough.

Patisan hacks in the 9/11 commission and elsewhere have spent more time blaming Bush than the terrorists. If anyone is guilty of getting the world to hate us it's democrats who have fed the world's paranoid ideas about us by making ridiculous claims about the administration.

Kerry has systematically voted against military spending his whole career as well as voting for egregious spending on bureaucratic programs. He is not more fiscally responible than Bush. They are about even.

That leaves us with the WoT. Bush took out two major threats in 4 years. Two countries taken down in record time with a record minimal casualties (post Iraq war fighting has been a separate issue because most of the fighting is with Al Qaeda not Saddam's forces).

I did not vote for Bush (or anyone last time because I hated the choices). I am not a fan of his now. But if it's between Bush and Kerry I have no problem deciding to vote R. All you have to look at Gore's meltdown to see how irrational and foolish the Democrat party has become.

And don't forget, Kerry's sideman is Ted Kennedy who is one of the worst examples of the modern Democrat party.

Posted by: James Hudnall at June 25, 2004 10:01 PM

I suspect Bigwig left his screen unlocked or something. Either that or someone slipped him some Kool Aid.

Surely anyone with 2 brain cells to rub together can do better than "historically Democrats have been effective war leaders, Kerry is a Democrat therefore Kerry would make an effective war leader let's vore for him".

The "proof" for Democrats being effective war leaders is anecdotal at best, and examples demonstrating the opposite (that you can't trust a Democrat to fight a war) abound.

The Democratic party of today is a very different creature from the what is was 40 years ago.

You would do well to examine Kerry the man, and not make pathetically desperate wishful assumptions about him and his leadership because he is a Democrat.

I fail to understand how it is Bush's fault that a major segment of the population (and a large segment of one major political party) considers the acquisition of political power more important than American national interest (and possibly survival). Where I'm from blaming the victim is considered unsporting, and you don't curb destructive behavior by giving in to build "unity".

Posted by: (other) Greg at June 25, 2004 10:02 PM

I might add that Democrats got us into Vietnam. First by funding the French so they could attempt to recolonize it, then sending in military advisers when that fell apart, then escalated it and turned it into a big mess.

Nixon negotiated a peace treaty with the North Vietnamese which they broke the secodn we pulled out.

History put WWII in FDRs lap. If it had been Hoover, who would say what he woudl have done.

The cold war was started by Democrats and ended by Republicans. Republicans have finished the messes Democrats have made.

Let's not forget that CArter was an appeaser who did nothing to fight Ismalofascists when they took those hostages. Clinton managed to bomb some cities and fire lots of cruise missiles at empty targets. Hardly the work of war leaders.

Posted by: James Hudnall at June 25, 2004 10:07 PM

Many excellent comments here, thanks to all.

I'd like to second what Matthew Cromer, Russell Wardlow, and Captain Holly said.

And emphatically *not* what Madhatter said- Europe is not just France and Germany.

Then there's Cody:

A good leader is able to rally people around his view points and ideas. Arguably, GWB has had zero success at this. Everything about him is still 50/50, just like it was during the election.

When Bush accumulated a substantial amount of political capital, he tends to spend it by doing something that he thinks is necessary in the long run, but may not be popular in the short run. That's one of the big differences between W Bush and Clinton- Bush understands that there's more to leadership than popularity. Clinton was pretty popular, but he was a piss-poor leader. Bush isn't particularly popular, but he *is* a good leader.

Question for the Kerry-boosters:

Would President Kerry have used military force to remove Saddam Hussein from power?

If Iran or North Korea detonate a nuke (or both), what do you think Kerry will do about it?

Who do you think will be more aggressive about going after terrorists: W. Bush in his last term, or Kerry in his first?

And finally, recall what Kerry said back in the VVAW days. Can you imagine anything that would do more to crush morale in the military than making him Commander in Chief?


and finally, Deoxy:

In other words, Republicans are willing to put the interests of the country above partisan politics, and Democrats aren't. Nice. Remind me again why the Democratic party should be trusted with anything, ever again?

That's about where I am these days. I miss Scoop Jackson... and I don't think he'd have anything good to say about Kerry.

Posted by: rosignol at June 25, 2004 10:17 PM

Bigwig,

While I understand your reasoning, I see two flaws in it.

First, regarding Bush's "divisiveness", most of the blame for that lies with the hard left and the D's that have let them hijack their party, and the mainstream media that have mainstreamed the fringe.

The past two years, they have done little but slander Bush and subvert and undermine the prosecution of the war. Just before the war, you had three democratic congressmen go to Baghdad to express their support for Saddam and their opposition to Bush. They got a pass, and since then, there's been a steady escalation; these days we routinely see Bush compared to Hitler and Mussolini, and not by the fringe but by an appeals court judge (Calabresi) and a former vice president (Gore). And the mainstream media is helping out too; with the LA Times and NY Times not just spinning and distorting, but fabricating news to hurt Bush.

And you want to reward these folks by voting for Kerry?

Second, if Kerry wins, it will be thanks to the hard left, and he will know it. Will Kerry resist giving the hard left what they want when they start making demands? I don't think so, especially not with the hard left having been mainstreamed by the media and the Democrats.

Posted by: Fredrik Nyman at June 25, 2004 11:01 PM

This is pretty good and is a fine argument on the surface. But, the devil is in the details. Clinton was not a uniter. Yes, his popularity probably does get him elected for a 3rd term. But, Clinton was not so much a uniter as he was NOT a divider. Sure, there were the hardcore folks who hated the man. But, HE was the most divisive part of his presidency. It wasn't the issues that divided people on Clinton. It was his character. Ultimately, that didn't matter in the eyes of the majority. But, we had that luxery. The tech boom economy gave an "irrational exuberance" to the whole country, not just the stock market. Clinton embodied status quo and although economy was slowing down at the end of 2000, not enough to damage that level of exuberance.

Bush is divisive not because of who he is, but because of what he stands for. The country is divided because their is a great deal of disagreement on the major issue of our time. There is a large segment of our population (the radical left and the isolationist right) that does not WANT to fight the war on terror. They believe that WE are at fault (for varying reasons from hating America to hating Jews). You can go back to before 9/11 and the charges being leveled at Bush (Nazi, paid for by Halliburton, dimwit, evil) were being leveled at him. Remember the outrage over speaking the truth about Kyoto? Clinton talked up Kyoto while knowing he'd never sign on to it. He kept punting on many issues. Right or wrong, Bush brought them to a head. He didn't punt.

Believe me, I'm sympathetic to divided government, and I'm unhappy with most of Bush's domestic policy (though, Kerry's would be much worse in the agregate). I don't think he's managed the post-Iraq war greatly, but he hasn't managed it NEAR AS BAD as people think. The prison stuff is awful and somebody needs to get fired (firing people is the greatest shortcoming of this admin). But, I hate to go tinfoil hat on ya, but the media has a very large roll to play in "Bush's divisiveness." It is not Bush's fault that the New York Times can't print the truth and that the network news gets all it's storylines from that paper. It's not all the media naturally. CNN and the Washington Post is not as bad as people think, though they aren't great. But, the European media is every bit as bad as we think. Bush is divisive because he has done uncomfortable things. He has tried to deal with very big questions. Do you really think Clinton would have dealt with these issues head on? Is there anything in Kerry's legislative resume that makes you think he would not manage this radically different, or worse, in a completely inconsistent way? Do you think he wouldn't hand over responsibility to Kofi and company at the first opportunity? And is their any evidence this would HELP the WoT?

Bush has terrible PR, has the eloquence of a drunken horse, and some really dumb political advice. But, he is at least facing the challenges of the war on terror.

I seriously would like to see a reason how rewarding Kerry with the job of president would improve things? Even if he gets the free hand to fight the WoT that you say he'd have, why do you think he'd use up that political capital? What, in his history makes you think he has that savvy? He has almost no history of truly LEADING.

Our choices this year suck to be sure. There is no Reagan or Thatcher to give us confidence in staying the course, while the chattering classes predict doom and gloom and guilt and moral equivalence. But, ultimately, we have to fight.

As I said before, Bush is divisive because of the issues. People genuinely disagree with policies he has REAL control over. Clinton never weilded anything more than a PR machine and bureaucratic appointments and was clever enough not to f*** up a good thing (well, at least when his pants weren't involved). Kosovo worked out OK, but the U.N. is slowly destroying Clinton's good work their. Bush has no such luxury.

I'm not happy about it, but Bush is the only logical choice if the WoT is the big issue, and your desire is to win it by beating our enemies. If the WoT is your biggest issue AND you want us to lose, then by all means vote Kerry.

Posted by: RussGoble at June 26, 2004 12:11 AM

Kerry can't be trusted. I must vote Bush. Even if I think his domestic policies stink. He's way too liberal for me.

Posted by: roux at June 26, 2004 01:07 AM

its brilliant. put a democrat in the white house, the wapo and nyt will start howling for zarqawi's blood, abu graib will relegated to the food section and michael moore will produce a documentary called, "why we fight", in iraq.

Posted by: rich at June 26, 2004 01:36 AM

its brilliant. put a democrat in the white house, the wapo and nyt will start howling for zarqawi's blood, abu graib will relegated to the food section and michael moore will produce a documentary called, "why we fight", in iraq.

Posted by: rich at June 26, 2004 01:37 AM

Impressive beyond the usual, Bigwig.

I love my country greatly, and have been very distressed by its divisions and direction. I have heard people who have never before even looked at a democrat take those first steps toward undoing the damage of the last few years.

I do not want to see our country be the greatest threat to freedom in the world. It's time for a change.

Scorpio
Eccentricity

Posted by: Scorpio at June 26, 2004 08:20 PM

Nobody's made a Spain comparison. This election boils down, essentially, to whether the USA believes it is still in the delicate stages of building the architecture of its next foreign policy paradigm, one it must win (Sun-Tzu said something along the lines of making sure you've won the battle before you even fight it), that is, the neoconservative-influenced Republican party lead by Dubya, or basically thinking that global business can go on as usual - the Demmycrat position.

If this is a war that must be won, then the stakes are too high to play cleverer-than-thou as in the original suggestion. I think the American people know that and despite the fact that during my 3-week visit there in April everyone I met seemed to take it for granted that Bush is evil, they'll come 'round and Bush will win handily. Cheer up.

Posted by: Adam Khan at June 26, 2004 08:35 PM

Because of Bush's plain incompetence the US is
losing the WoT. When you have a failure in charge you have no choice but to replace him.

George Bush is the biggest failure of any President in US history.

Posted by: spencer at June 27, 2004 04:06 PM

Reading this comment thread is tragic. I'm amazed so many thoughtful and articulate people could have been so misled. Not only is George Bush not winning the war on terror, he's not even bothering to fight it. Osama bin Laden is still on the loose, Saudi oil money is still funding extremism, we've handed al Jazeera endless images to propagandize against us, and the US army is stuck in Iraq, depleted of war materiel and morale.

You have been deceived about the nature of the Democratic party. Clinton intervened in Haiti, bombed the Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Serbia. Large numbers of Democrats supported George Bush and the war in Iraq when they believed that Saddam's threat of WMDs was real. Bush's approval ratings were once so high because so many Democrats believed he had the best interest of the country at heart.

The Democrats, like increasing numbers of Americans, have since learned the errors of their ways. To be honest, I have trouble understanding how it went so horribly wrong, and so many of the policies have been so wrongheaded that I have trouble understanding what the Bush administration precisely thought they were doing. I mean, torturing prisoners in the very same prison that Saddam used to torture prisoners? Staffing the CPA with a bunch of 24-year-old know-nothings whose sole qualification was they wanted to work for the Heritage foundation? Not supplying enough trouble to immediately secure law and order in the country? Dissolving the Iraqi army in a country with 50% unemployment? For that matter, taking a country with 50% unemployment, and turning the reconstruction over to well-connected American firms? It's gonna take the historians years to figure exactly how this all happened.

Not only is Bush not going to win in November, I predict a significant number of you won't even vote for him. I know it's hard to admit that you wrong about the guy -- I was wrong about the guy too, and it's still painful for me to admit it. But you are patriots. The country needs for you to vote Bush out of office, and I know that come November you will swallow your pride, and do what needs to be done.

Posted by: Walt Pohl at June 27, 2004 04:35 PM

First visit to your site.

I have a question. Having read through these comments--claiming everything from 'crypto-Marxist statist' elements in the Democratic Party, to an 'entire command chain' seeing Kerry as unfit, to the dozen or so people who still believe the WMD, or, alternatively, see it as unimportant even if false, to the ice-cave-dwellers who still believe in an Al Qaeda-Iraq link more substantive than, say, Malaysia's, Sudan's, Pakistan's or Saudi Arabia's--my question is,

Are you more convinced or less convinced that supporting Bush puts you on the side of logic?

I think I agree with your main point. There's a good chance Kerry will be reasonable to the reasonable elements of the Republican Party, whereas in three years, Bush has been the most adamantly divisive, narrow-focused fundie-dues-payer that central casting could've rolled out, with zero identifiable examples of attempting to work with the reasonable elements of the Democratic Party. Even Republicans consider Bush's disdain toward his own party in Congress to be arrogant.

The simple fact is that the 'left' isn't quite as far left right now as the right is right. I'd like to see a Republican cognate for Edwards, Lieberman, Reid, Richardson--then find me one who isn't under blistering attack for being a 'RINO.'

My basis for what I think Kerry will do? Well, the 'liberal' Clinton passed NAFTA, produced budget surpluses and passed welfare reform. Kerry has a long record of bipartisan work in Congress.

What comparable bi-partisan work has been undertaken in the last three years?

Posted by: djangone at June 27, 2004 05:23 PM

Bush has proven to my satisfaction that he can't win the WOT. We need help, and Bush won't get it. I don't know what Kerry's chances are, but they're not zero.

Posted by: Hari at June 27, 2004 08:54 PM

"PRESIDENT BUSH SHOULD NOT SEEK RE-ELECTION"

by David Richey


Headline above is to an op-ed appearing in the June 3rd edition of the Fort Myers (Florida) News-Press calling for President Bush to stand down. (Link is no longer active.) The piece is intended as an open letter to moderate conservatives to rethink their failed leadership.

The upshot: even if President Bush should manage to win this fall, his failed policies and ruinous leadership have crippled his ability to lead effectively. What can he hope to actually accomplish? And can we really afford to have a lame-duck president leading our foreign policy for another four years?


[start piece]


President Bush Should Stand Down


"I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President."

-- President Lyndon B. Johnson, March 31, 1968


by David Richey


Forget Secretary Rumsfeld. It is President Bush who should stand down.

For the good of the Republican Party, for the good of our government and for the good of the American people, President Bush should take a page from former President Lyndon Johnson and announce that he will not stand for reelection this fall.

This would allow a proven Republican leader like John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, George Pataki, Chuck Hagel or Lindsey Graham to run for and still win the presidency this year. But more important, it will enable a successor to the White House, whether Republican or Democrat, the clean slate necessary to lead effectively in Iraq and in the world.

To succeed in Iraq, we need a leader who can show more than boldness and decisiveness. First, boldness is a tactic, not a policy. It is no substitute for good judgment. Second, decisiveness untempered by critical thinking becomes a vice not a virtue. To re-examine a failing policy and admit that it is not working, and then to amend it accordingly shows strength, not weakness. But President Bush has repeatedly shown himself to be either unwilling or unable to accept this fact.

President Bush may mean well, but sadly, he does not do well. We must have a leader in the White House who possesses the good judgment to solve problems without making matters worse. Our gravest problem in Iraq is not with the military. It is political. What is desperately needed in Iraq is smart politics. This requires nuance, which the president famously says he does not do, and the capacity to re-examine failed policies, another hard point for a president who evidently never makes a mistake. These qualities are essential because smart politics saves lives. Smart politics solves problems. Smart politics makes the world a better and safer place.

But President Bush has repeatedly shown an incapacity to deliver. We see evidence of this in many forms: his dogged inflexibility on the inadequate troop-strength decision that failed to establish security in Iraq, his unwillingness to acknowledge that no WMDs are in Iraq, his baffling insistence on supporting duplicitous Iraqi exiles like Ahmed Chalabi, his stubborn refusal to listen to constructive criticism until it is far too late, a mystery that led Gen. Anthony Zinni, former CENTCOM Commander and President Bush's personal Middle East envoy, to remark: "In the lead-up to the Iraq war and its later conduct, I saw, at minimum, true dereliction, negligence and irresponsibility; at worst, lying, incompetence and corruption."

Military commanders are not ordinarily a chatty class of people, especially with the press. So the true picture of Iraq becomes more apparent when we consider that three of the last four CENTCOM Commanders have all leveled exceptionally harsh public criticisms and grave warnings about how incompetently the Iraq occupation has been prosecuted by the Bush Administration. General Zinni described our current policy in Iraq as "headed over Niagra Falls." And General Joseph Hoar, another former CENTCOM Commander, said: "I believe we are absolutely on the brink of failure. We are looking into the abyss."

The stunning failure of the Bush Administration to recognize and quell the insurgent threat we faced in Iraq made our situation precarious. But the president's handling of the prisoner abuse catastrophe at Abu Ghraib threatens our very legitimacy with the nations of the world.

Abu Ghraib is the tipping point in the Bush presidency. Most Americans are shocked, and many are beginning to grow angry, that such an un-American abuse of power could occur on Bush's watch. Tactics used on high-value al Qaeda suspects were imported from Guantanamo and applied indiscriminantly and en masse on the inmates of Abu Ghraib, the vast majority of whom (70 to 90 percent according to Red Cross estimates) were innocent of any crime.

And the abuses were not just limited to stress positions, forced sodomy, fecal smearing and sexual humilitions, as though that were not bad enough. The Pentagon has acknowledged that at least 37 persons have died in U.S. custody as a result of policies approved by the president, and 10 of these deaths are suspected homicides committed by American interrogators or soldiers.

Facts keep surfacing daily, but it is very disturbing indeed that President Bush insists on describing the abuses and torture that occurred on his watch as an isolated problem. Clearly it is not an isolated problem. Conduct like this is morally reprehensible for a great country like ours, and moreover, it is counterproductive PR poison for our hearts-and-minds mission in Iraq.

To say, as some have, that at least we are better than Saddam's torturers, should be utterly beneath us. It should disturb, and yes, outrage all Americans that such abuses occurred in our name. We are a country founded upon the rule of law. We must lead by example, not by joining our foes in the moral sewer.

And so it is out in the world beyond our borders where the events of Abu Ghraib have wrought the most damage to a future Bush presidency. For the Arab world, Abu Ghraib confirms their long-held suspicions, and serves to further radicalize Arab moderates, providing recruiting posters for Islamist fascism. For the rest of the world, there is, as President Bush himself says, "a stain on our country's honor and reputation."

This is all sadly true. But here's the hard reality that exists out in the world: fair or unfair, that stain is now inseparable from the Bush Presidency.

The pictures and events of Abu Ghraib have cost us much in the world, but this above all: President Bush has lost the most critical pillar of his leadership - the moral authority to lead effectively, both in Iraq and in world affairs. He is experiencing a similar steady erosion in public confidence here at home. People are fearful that the war in Iraq is not going well, and they are right. It isn't. President Bush is in full-scale retreat in Iraq, both politically and militarily, and he is only hoping that you fail to notice the marked discrepancy between what he is saying and what he is actually doing about Iraq.

So even if President Bush should manage to win reelection this fall, it will be a limited victory at best. America will find itself in a much weaker geopolitical position with President Bush as our commander-in-chief, and our compromised position will only get worse. Nations will begin to league against us in earnest. Our initiatives will not be heeded. Our soft power will be worthless. Our hard power is more likely to be challenged, especially by events in Fallujah and Najaf, coupled with the memory of President Bush's wildly irresponsible "Bring 'em on!" comments.

In short, our word will not be respected except by force, making even good-faith attempts at diplomatic solutions irrelevant. With President Bush at the helm, our leadership will be continually questioned and our motives will be regarded with grave suspicion.

We must face up to a harsh reality, and we must do so not as Republicans or Democrats, but as Americans: President Bush is now a crippled and weak president in the eyes of the world. Scandal and political failure and suspicious motives cling to his administration. The president's credibility as a world leader lays in tatters. No amount of speeches touting the president's say-so will change this. And worst of all, President Bush's bad decisions and poor leadership are revealed most tellingly in his consistent mishandling of foreign affairs, which is precisely where our country's greatest challenges and decisions and dangers await us in the coming years.

Any president's true political test starts just as soon as combat is declared over, and President Bush's performance does not inspire confidence in his abilities for the future. Can we really afford to have a lame-duck president leading our foreign policy for another four years?

So now a hard question: Is President Bush prepared to jeopardize our national security by putting his personal political interests above those of our country? We can only hope not. That is why stepping down at the end of his term is the most honorable, patriotic and effective act that President Bush can perform for us and for our troops.

Tens of thousands of anonymous acts of kindness and charity and courage and valor have been performed in Iraq by our American military personnel. They deserve better political leadership to ennoble their heroism. They deserve an effective commander-in-chief who can make their sacrifice both honorable and worthwhile. And now the unthinkable must be said: that leader is no longer President Bush.

The military wins the wars. Mission accomplished. It is up to the president to win the peace. Mission disaster.

The Bible warns us that pride goeth before the fall - and like a tragic figure, it is President Bush's inflexible pride that is bringing about his fall. And sadly, we need not look far to find the bitter fruit of this tree.

Posted by: David Richey at June 27, 2004 09:22 PM

This "uniter" vs. "divider" concept is a media construction. Most journalists and TV personalities don't like Bush's positions on things like stem cell research, gay marriage, and abortion, so they perceive him as being divisive. Media and entertainment industry people live in their ideologically sheltered world and can't believe that anyone would seriously hold views different from their own. Clinton generated as much antipathy from conservatives as Bush does from liberals, but the media didn't call him a "divider" because they were in agreement with him.

Reagan had similar views to Bush II on traditional issues, but he got many votes from Democrats, so he was a more unifying president. That was probably due more to his ability to express a national vision far more skillfully than the current Bush, though the jury is still out as to how many Democratic and independent voters Bush II will attract this year. I think it will be more than in 2000, but much less than 1984. Most people in 1984 believed defeating the USSR was important enough to override other issues. The terrorist threat is perceived differently, even though 9/11 killed more Americans than the Soviets ever did. It doesn't help that the media's ambivalence or even distaste for fighting terrorism leaks out of their stories and engenders the same ambivalence in the general public. It would be an interesting experiment to elect John Kerry and then see how the tone of the media changes.

Posted by: Kevin at June 28, 2004 06:27 PM

I force myself to question anyone who talks about "winning the peace" in Iraq, for that reflects an astonishing lack of understanding of both Iraq and the bigger picture.

Major combat ended over a year ago. But what has been going on since then in Iraq is most definitely war, just not open, large-scale conventional war. It's hard to build a nation while multiple neightboring states are waging proxy war against you, while simultaneously fighting an irregular war against terrorist organizations... and I must say that not all of what I've heard out of Iraq has made sense to me, but judging just by results the Bush administration and the people on the ground have done a tremendous job.

Reforming Japan or West Germany (now there's an occupation you might want to look at for some perspective) too many years. West Germany wasn't judged fit to be a nation until 1956. You might want to give it some time, instant gratification is for children.

Posted by: Greg at June 28, 2004 08:44 PM

David Richey:

Thanks for your post. While it certainly highlights substantive issues, I think its greater value lies elsewhere: It should be required reading in every high school class in America, in order to educate our citizenry in analytical reading.

Find the "assumed" facts upon which further arguments are based. Locate all instances of loaded words. Identify and discuss examples of circular reasoning.


Posted by: cj at July 1, 2004 12:00 AM

I thought about Kerry . . . then came to the conclusion that no, I don't want him driving the car.

Posted by: Lola Lee at July 20, 2004 07:25 PM

Forgive me if this point has already been brought up, but the comment list is a little long to read in a sitting...

I'm not going to comment the truth or fiction of the point that John Kerry would somehow 'unify' the nation, but instead, illustrate another truth that your writing has instead revealed.

If George W. Bush wins relection, the left will find him so unacceptable that any effectiviness in the WoT will be lost according to you, but if John Kerry is elected, he will enjoy support for his actions on both the left and right.

Lets list those actions you've brought up and Kerry says he will do...

1) Not pullout of Iraq and Afghanistan

2) Continue support for Israel (our only true ally in the region)

3) (this last ones a biggee) Continue Bush's doctrine of preemption against security threats against the US (Kerry came out and said this not 2 days ago)

Last I checked, Bush is doing all 3 of these things, but cannot gain any support from the anti-Amer... err I mean, true patriots, on the left.

Congratulations, all you've 'proven' is the left is so consumed with rage out of being out of power, the ones in control, that they would shun any presidency of a opposition political party.

That's a great political theory, one should sacrifice their political beliefs just inorder to pacify others who would obstruct at every possible turn.

Why should it be the right that should shoulder that responsibility because the opposition is acting like a toddler who was just told they can't have candy for dinner. Why must the reasonable 'moderate' republicans sacrifice, because the left refuses anyone who doesn't match their every belief.

I'm sorry, if it comes down to winning the war on terror and having at least some Conservative ideals (Bush isn't the best, I'll grant you that) in the way Government is run and having a divided country, or Winning the WoT and turning America into a EuroSoc dreamland where everyone just agrees to get along....

Well W in 04

Posted by: Brian at July 20, 2004 07:35 PM

Does it occur to no one that the reason the country unites behind a democratic president is because the Republican party is willing to put the country before their own political party and the Democrats are not capable of the same.

Also you left out the civil war. Both parties lead nations in that one. The Republicans happened to win. Remember that one: Republicans freed the slaves. They also brought us the civil rights act. Democrats were in far more opposition to it than republicans. LBJ said that when he signed it he was handing the South to republicans for decades to come.

Posted by: jim m at July 20, 2004 07:44 PM

I find it interesting that you compare the 'War records' of the two parties and postulate that possibly that it is better that the Dems put another one in the 'Win' column. Presumatively your assessment is that the Reps cannot put one in the 'Win' column.

An interesting metric for the basis of a Presidential pick.

Posted by: JohnM at July 20, 2004 07:45 PM

I think it is much harder to be a uniter being a republican. Republicans have been much more willing to work with Democrats when they are in power. Since the Democrats lost power they havn't been very good sports about it.

If 9/11 happened under clintons watch he would have not only his party behind him, but the Republicans also. Only the wacky left wing would be the same. Since it happened under Bush, the democrats have run with the wacky left, infact appear to be all wacky leftests now.

If I hear another democrat telling me that I must see F911 because it is the absolute truth (even though I point out websites that say otherwise, they say these sites are just right wingers trying to suppress the truth), and thse a few years ago were reasonable people.....

Posted by: one guy at July 20, 2004 07:48 PM

Sheesh. Unbelievable. Does anyone really, really think Kerry, of all people, is going to fight the war on terror more aggressively than Bush? We're at war - and while morons contemplate electing a pussy, our enemy is busy trying to figure out ways to destroy us.

We're only going to win the war by taking it to the enemy - that means waging war offensively. Vote Kerry if you think the enemy isn't busy trying to destroy us, but don't be fool enough to believe he's going to win this war for us by re-trenching. We need a president who causes terrorists to are afraid to go to bed because they fear being killed in their sleep. Kerry ain't that man - he hasn't the stuff to win.

Posted by: Tim at July 20, 2004 07:50 PM

This is by far some of the best trench fighting political discussions I've enjoyed in a long while. Even the Bush critics have been able to assemble arguments more nuanced than Bush=Hitler.
As for me I can't see how anyone can have any faith on Kerry when it comes to foreign policy. Like Helmut Khol's critique of Gerhard Shroeder in Germany "He's been on the wrong side of history too many times"

Posted by: gavin at July 20, 2004 07:53 PM

Hmmm.

Interesting. What is even more interesting is that you failed to include just how incompetently run all of those "Democrat" wars were.

Anyone remember the idiotic failures of D-Day? Fighting through the Bocage? Battle of the Bulge? Tarawa? Heroic battles that were largely unnecessary had WWII been run with even a little competence.

How about the Korean War? Where an underequipped, underfunded and undertrained American military was almost broken?

How about the Vietnam War where JFK got us into it and Lyndon Johnson spent his mornings picking out bombing targets for B-52s?

How about JFK and the Bay of Pigs? Where he lost what little nerve he had and convinced the Soviets that he was a gutless wonder. Prompting them to try putting missiles in Cuba and precipitating the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Then there's:

Iran Hostage Crisis: Jimmy Carter. What a goof-ball.

The Balkans: Where we went in to stop genocide, but now can't find any trace of it. And, if I point out, there's still no "exit strategy" from this most Democrat of all screwups. 78 days of aerial bombing and all we had to show for it was a limping daschund.

Somalia: Where Clinton withdrew all the heavy armor and weaponry so that, when real firepower was needed, there wouldn't be any.

and on and on and on.

BTW. Nixon didn't lose Vietnam. He got American troops out of Vietnam, but he didn't lose it. When American forces had left Vietnam the South Vietnamese Army was winning the war. South Vietnam wasn't overrun until the controlling **Democrats** in Congress voted to cut all funding for South Vietnam and let them die.

Yeah. A Democrat running a war. That'll make us safe. Riiigggghhhhhttttt.

Posted by: ed at July 20, 2004 07:56 PM

I think Bush's primary problem has been in failing to ingratiate himself to run-of-the-mill Democrats, and failing to capitalize on *Americans* sense of unity after 9/11 (piss on the ephemeral and transparent pity of the French and the "rest of the world"). I think the left's utter contempt for him is less the result of his policies and more the result of his inarticulateness and inelegance, which makes him really difficult to approvingly listen to. Their loathing of the man is based largely in a gut feeling.

As unwise as it is to negotiate with groups of irrational, selfish ideologues, the left's hatred is so irrational and vile at this point that I think a change in Presidents would be a good thing for the country and the world. If a CEO of a large business were raising the ire of half the company to the extent Bush does the country, he, if wise, would step down. Or, if the rebelious teenager is rejecting everything dad says, maybe it's time to transfer custody to mom for awhile. However, the only alternative to Bush (Kerry and the Democrats) seem beholden to radical and/or banal nihilists and show no interest in being serious about the threats facing our world.

Posted by: ss at July 20, 2004 08:07 PM

I have to make the comment that this is probably the most civil, well-thought out, and logical blog I've ever read. Oh certainly there are some opinions more strongly stated than others, but I've enjoyed it enough to read the entire thread of comments.

On the idea of which leader is the best in the WoT and for the next four years - the answer is surely and most positively for President Bush. I say that for several reasons:

First - taking the fight to Iraq was at best, a highly risky position for him to take. One based on not political, but a hard headed, old fashioned idea of what had to be done to make the country safe from future attacks.

I'm sure that there are a great many people that look at my statement and will want to reply that the war was based on false and misleading evidence. In the face of it, that could even be said to be true. But the bottom line is that when it came down to it, everyone truly believed that evidence was true - AT THE TIME. Hindsight has the advantage of being 20-20. Saddam Hussein may truly have gotten rid of all his weapons, but he obscured that fact to the UN and to the rest of the world, quite possibly due to the fact if his neighbors knew that he no longer possessed either the weapons or the capabilities of manufacturing them that his regime would be over.

As for the 'failures' during the war's aftermath. I thoroughly enjoy hearing and reading the complaints that we don't have enough troops in Iraq to crush the insurgents and to keep the country secure. I enjoy them mainly because these are the same voices that generally say we shouldn't be there in the first place, or that we're providing a breeding ground for Iraqi hatred. Try increasing troop strength at the same time we're in the process of returning sovereignty to the Iraqi people and see how well that's received!! The force deployed was never supposed to be an occupying force, rather a liberating one.

As for the rest of the region - does anyone recall how quickly Syria backed down from making noise directly after the invasion? How Libya did the same. They believe the words that were said that any hostile acts would be dealt with.

Reading the rather lengthy article above where the author spent considerable time talking about abuse and torture 'applied indiscriminantly and en masse on the inmates of Abu Ghraib', my comment is that there is a world of difference between humiliation and torture. And unless I've read my facts wrong, it was not applied 'en mass' to all inmates, but to a specific group in a specific area of the compound that were considered high value prisoners for intelligence.

I don't condone what happened there, but it's my belief that the perpetrators were isolated to a specific group of particularly twisted and vicious individuals not acting in accordance with policy. These acts weren't discovered by the press, the were discovered, reported, and acted on by good and decent soldiers who reported them up through their chain of command.

All that said, I don't believe that Mr. Kerry had, has, or ever will have, the intestinal fortitude to make hard or unpopular decisions on the WoT that would cause him any backlash from the far left of the Democratic Party.

There are just too many questionable things about Mr. Kerry that point to a political spinelessness and pure opportunism. It isn't even the bigger things that come to mind - it's the stupid and trivial things that give this impression.

The whole thing about the medals is an example I like to bring up. Now, personally I don't care if he 'gave back' his medals or his ribbons, either one. What bothers me is that in his explanations he first said he threw away his medals; then backed off and said that he didn't throw away his medals (this to union members that had problems with the idea of him throwing his decorations away during an election in 1984 - he took representatives to his office to prove he still had the medals); the reversed course again recently and said what he threw were his ribbons but they were the same thing as throwing his medals.

I was in the service for almost 10 years (no - not a Vietnam Veteran), and I know what he meant by saying in the eyes of a "troop" ribbons and medals are the same thing. The bottom line is that he still has the bloody things that he said he "gave back". Did he give them back or not?

The other silly and meaningless example was when he claimed he didn't own an SUV - until he was pressured into admitting that it belonged to the 'family'. If the man turns into a weasel for something as simple as the fact that he has a 'politically incorrect' vehicle - how can you expect any kind of strength in leadership in really important matters?

Fight a long, potentially unpopular WoT with half your constituents screaming 'No Blood For Oil'? Bush could do it - Kerry? No Way.

Posted by: Dan at July 20, 2004 09:08 PM

I am constantly amazed by what kind of spin a person can use to obfuscate any truth. When I hear the same people who scream about not getting UN approval for military action (not even gonna argue the point that we had it) in Iraq, excoriate Bush Sr for not going against the UN charter in Iraq 1. We were prohibited from going after Saddam. Forbidden.

Damned if you do / damned if you don't.

JFK / Johnson get us into a war in Vietnam, screw it up so bad we can't 'win' and then blame the guy who had the guts to get us out. Would you have preferred to fight it out for another 8 years?

Damned if you do / damned if you don't.

Divided country? Are you kidding. Show me a legitimate quote from any Republican calling for the death of Clinton. Show me where a Repub called Clinton a "Thug", "Terrorist" or worse. So damned many epithets have been tossed toward the conservatives (and that means me, even though I do not rubberstamp any conservative idea) that we are not divided as a country any more. We are friggin' divided.

So Bush reaches out with Medicare. Bush reaches out with Kennedy's Eucation bill. All that comes from the left is more vitriol and hate.

Damned if you do / damned if you don't.

Do you think that the total lack of fairness from the media, and the hate from the hollywood idiots and tv idiots and music industry idiots wouldn't have any effect on Clinton if they were turned his way? Really?

Clinton never received a mandate. Ever. Bush's numbers now are higher than Clinton ever won with. Facts are facts.

Clinton. I loathed the man, but he was my President. I would have fought any man who would have attacked him. I would have defended him to the death. My president. The left openly calls for harm to befall the president and conservatives everywhere (Alec Baldwin said we should have been killed) and there is no rebuttal from the 'moderate' left. We are told that ideas are sacrosanct... "there should be no censorship - they aren't being serious, get over it." Arnold makes a joking reference to a skit on Saturday Night Live and he is excoriated and hated for being devisive and cruel.

Damned if you do / damned if you don't.

I guess we are as polarized as we will ever be now. I cannot stand the left and their total lack of any display of consistancy, morality (lies / deceipt - not sex), and their terrible, ferocious desire for power.

They can't win with reason. They can't win with ideas. They can't win with compassion bookended with hate. They can't win with logic. So - lie, obfuscate and try to render the truth as something that is pliable and only available for the annointed.

Can you imagine if Dick Cheney had removed articles from the National Archives? If you thnk the response would be the same as we see in the near-silence of the media today, you are lying to yourself and should seek help. There would have been a firestorm of hate.

Damned if you do. Damned for sure.
Damn the left and their bullshit.

Cheers,

Posted by: don at July 20, 2004 09:20 PM

"The Bush team that led a righteously angry America into Afghanistan and Iraq has, in the space of a year, managed to horribly tarnish the reputation of the United States in the eyes of her own people."

Is this really true? I mean in the space of the last year it's the Democrats who have loudly proclaimed Bush a liar and incompetent. I don't think it's anything Bush has actually done or not done, I think it's what the Democrats claim he has done/not done that have turned some away from him.

Posted by: Syl at July 20, 2004 10:39 PM

In summary, we are better off with a Democrat as president because the Republicans would still support the country but, If we elect a Republican president the Democrats will do everything to sabotage him (again!). Sounds just like Israel / Islam to me. Would you give up Israel to Islam to stop the fighting?

Posted by: Smitty at July 28, 2004 01:54 PM

Hmmm.

The only reason that Bush is a divider is because of the democrats. Democrats simply cannot put the country above politics. It wouldn't matter at all which Republican was President because the Democrats would do the exact same things.

As far as I'm concerned if Kerry wins then I'm going to do to him what the Democrats have done to Bush. I refute and refuse to accept the principle that Republicans must kowtow to Democrats while Democrats can be as divisive as they please.

Short answer: Screw them.

Posted by: ed at July 28, 2004 02:04 PM

"In summary, we are better off with a Democrat as president because the Republicans would still support the country but, If we elect a Republican president the Democrats will do everything to sabotage him (again!). Sounds just like Israel / Islam to me. Would you give up Israel to Islam to stop the fighting?"

Problem is that you are rewarding bad behavior on the Democratic side along with assumptions on what Democrats would actually do.

Posted by: George G. at July 28, 2004 02:06 PM

As long as the Democrats behave as the party of Chamberlain and not Churchill, there is no way on this planet that I would be voting for them.

Posted by: David R. Block at July 28, 2004 02:06 PM

If things had been going better in Iraq would you still think we need Kerry? Dems are more likely to be possessive of government (40+years of control of the House)as if it is their right. Kerry is saying it now in his "take back America". So that's why they won't support Bush. But Republicans aren't that mean-spirited (like the Begala, Carville, Shrum, Beckel, Moore, Goldberg, Dreyfuss, Streep crowd and their ilk)so they'll put up with JFK if he gets in. And put up with his handing France and Germany veto power over our foreign affairs. Holbrooke as Secretary of State?!? Anybody noticed what's going on in Bosnia these days?

Posted by: Jaycee at July 28, 2004 05:16 PM

It truly doesn't matter if Kerry gets elected......I have no intentions of obeying any of his wacko mandates-dubya's either. Taxes are another thing-an off shore account is necessary.

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