Wednesday, October 27, 2004

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Just feel that love for Kerry -- not.

Slate has published the voting preferences of its contributors, editorial and business staff. Not surprisingly, it's overwhelningly tilted to Kerry.

Going through it, two things struck me:

1) I'm with Jim Lindgren -- who is Christopher Hitchens voting for? In The Nation, it appears to be Bush; in Slate... well, it says he's voting for Kerry, but here's his statement:

I am assuming for now that this is a single-issue election. There is one's subjective vote, one's objective vote, and one's ironic vote. Subjectively, Bush (and Blair) deserve to be re-elected because they called the enemy by its right name and were determined to confront it. Objectively, Bush deserves to be sacked for his flabbergasting failure to prepare for such an essential confrontation. Subjectively, Kerry should be put in the pillory for his inability to hold up on principle under any kind of pressure. Objectively, his election would compel mainstream and liberal Democrats to get real about Iraq.

The ironic votes are the endorsements for Kerry that appear in Buchanan's anti-war sheet The American Conservative, and the support for Kerry's pro-war candidacy manifested by those simple folks at I can't compete with this sort of thing, but I do think that Bush deserves praise for his implacability, and that Kerry should get his worst private nightmare and have to report for duty.

People can say I used tortured logic to reach my decision -- but at least I made one. [UPDATE: Apparently Hitchens did not intend to endorse anyone -- click here for more]

2) Is there anyone out there -- beyond the New York Times editorial page -- who actually likes John Kerry? Compared to some of the other entries, Mickey Kaus actually comes off as warm and fuzzy towards the junior Senator from Massachusetts. Jacob Weisberg pretty much sums up the mood of the responses:

I remain totally unimpressed by John Kerry. Outside of his opposition to the death penalty, I've never seen him demonstrate any real political courage. His baby steps in the direction of reform liberalism during the 1990s were all followed by hasty retreats. His Senate vote against the 1991 Gulf War demonstrates an instinctive aversion to the use of American force, even when it's clearly justified. Kerry's major policy proposals in this campaign range from implausible to ill-conceived. He has no real idea what to do differently in Iraq. His health-care plan costs too much to be practical and conflicts with his commitment to reducing the deficit. At a personal level, he strikes me as the kind of windbag that can only emerge when a naturally pompous and self-regarding person marinates for two decades inside the U.S. Senate. If elected, Kerry would probably be a mediocre, unloved president on the order of Jimmy Carter. And I won't have a second's regret about voting for him. Kerry's failings are minuscule when weighed against the massive damage to America's standing in the world, our economic future, and our civic institutions that would likely result from a second Bush term.

UPDATE: This commenter sardonically points out the leap of faith those voting for Kerry are taking. Indeed, on foreign policy and on trade policy, even Kerry's own advisors aren't completely sure what the hell he's going to do.

So are Kerry supporters taking risk? No, I suspect they, like me, are adopting a minmax strategy. The question to ask is: assume both Kerry and Bush will completely embody their worst stereotypes -- which candidate leaves the country better off? By a hair, I think it's Kerry.

UPDATE: I've finally found my voting bloc (hat tip to alert reader T.D.)!!

posted by Dan on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM


You are right. None of the Slaters are ready to show Kerry the love.

And yet, they are quite ready to support him. They all seem to have adopted the same attitude as Andrew Sullivan when he concludes his endorsement by saying:

"In a democracy, you sometimes have to have faith that a new leader will be able to absorb the achievements of his predecessor and help mend his failures."

So, it seems that supporting Kerry requires a leap of faith.

I guess Bush is not alone when he concludes that faith-based initiatives can work.


posted by: Steve Albert on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

Kerry has a long history, and much experience as a useful idiot-for-hire. You and your peers have seen this, and concluded that he will be a useful idiot for your ideas, and causes.

While I am not at all confident that John Kerry will be your useful idiot, I think it fairly safe to say that he will be someone's.


posted by: Mitch H. on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

i was talking about this very thing just today. i can't freakin' stand the guy. kerry, i mean. this is my first election, and i'm really disappointed that it comes down to this. i suppose i'll have to vote for him, but i am already depressed, no matter who wins on tuesday. :(

posted by: gina on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

Slate: the online magazine of, by, and for Kerry-hating Kerry supporters!

posted by: Cynical Nation on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

Your logic wasn't tortured, but your readers may feel that they were put to the rack.

posted by: alkali on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

Well I like John Kerry. Personally I mean. I'd enjoy sharing a glass of wine with him, especially if it came from a bottle in his cellar. In the first place he'd probably be able to talk about the wine, which is maybe more important to me than to most people. And he's an intelligent, interesting guy who would hold up his end of a conversation. George Bush by contrast is a boor; I expect I'd tire of his company very quickly.

But I'm still voting for Bush, not for Kerry. I don't mind intelligent and contemplative in a President, provided at the end of the intelligence and contemplation there is a decision timely made. Becoming familiar with a subject is not much of an accomplishment in itself; you still have to act, take risks, follow through on your action even if success does not come right away. Bush does that sometimes, not as often as I'd like and rarely in the way I would like it is true, but I don't see this in John Kerry at all.

Physical courage and decision are very different things from political courage and decision. Kerry showed long ago he had the first set of qualities, but little in his career to date suggests he has the second. I hope I'm wrong about this; as regular readers know I expect Kerry to win this election, and I don't think it will be as close as many now predict. But there are lots of people I like who I don't think would be successful Presidents, and Kerry is one of them.

posted by: Zathras on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

I think liberal hawks leaning towards Kerry drastically underestimate how much worse things can get.

posted by: Mark Buehner on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

*Becoming familiar with a subject is not much of an accomplishment in itself; you still have to act, take risks, follow through on your action even if success does not come right away. Bush does that sometimes, not as often as I'd like and rarely in the way I would like it is true, but I don't see this in John Kerry at all.*

Bush does not do this - very well. He may act and take risks, but without spending adequate time becoming familiar with the subject. Using Dan's "minmax" formula, this one gets divided by zero.

It's pretty widely accepted that both candidates have wildly expensive and poorly planned proposals. So Kerry gets the nod, since his bad/expensive plans will die in congress, and Bush's bad/expensive plans will be inflicte... implemented.

posted by: wishIwuz2 on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

Just imagine it: John Forbes Kennedy in the White House. Jacques Chirac and all his other dubious European friends running circles around him. A president of the US who actually *believes*, rather than merely panders to, all the multicultural, liberal crap coming out of the mouths of the Coastal elites. I may be very disappointed in W, but I'm not stupid enough not see which of the two has the clearer grip on reality - which of them, in other words, is better for America and the world.

posted by: Dubya on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

You ask/state: "assume both Kerry and Bush will completely embody their worst stereotypes -- which candidate leaves the country better off? By a hair, I think it's Kerry." Which Kerry stereotype are you basing this conclusion on? I answer your question by basing Kerry's worst stereotype on that he would make the U.S. appear weak and conforming, much like ex-pres J. Carter. This is the absolute worst possible scenario for all U.S. citizens. The terrorist network would and should exclaim "that we've once again beaten the 'Paper Tiger'". America would then have to face decades of more horrific terrorist attacks (real, not just threats of) on its own soil. I'll leave you with this, " is not the time to get wobbly".

posted by: Shawn on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

Kerry will only serve to bring the war back onto our soil. As he cuts and runs, the terrorists will follow. Playing on the defensive will only ensure that one lucky terrorist will eventually get through and nuke or poison NYC or some other unlucky place. Can you really bring yourself to vote for someone that uses logic like "I would not do all the wrong things" and then offers no plan to not do those things? We don't know the man, yet he could be the next Adolf Hitler, and you people would still say "anyone but Bush" without knowing his plan!

posted by: Ernie Oporto on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

This entire election is organized on the premise of anybody but Bush. This election is a referendum on the incumbent.

posted by: Jor on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

On stereotypes, I like the article I read the other day (sorry don't remember where), which said:

Republicans fear that a Kerry presidency will lead to endless appeasement of terrorists and the French, culminating in the subsequent presidential election of Hillary Clinton.

Democrats fear that a second Bush term will lead to a state of endless war and the introduction of an economic system known as feudalism.

posted by: PD Shaw on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

I glad that you have done the right thing for your career and your family by endorsing Kerry publicly. Just remember when the curtains close behind you that the ballot is secret and you can vote for President bush to save Western civilization and the Jewsih People.

posted by: Robert Schwartz on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

This entire election should be evidence enough that the two-party system is stupid. There's nothing magical about having two choices; it's an artificial limit imposed by the plurality voting system.

posted by: fling93 on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

I want to address the recurring thought in comments threads that Dan has opted for Kerry as some kind of career move.

Let's assume, counterfactually, that the people who were going to decide Dan's (or my) fate were going to judge him on the basis of his public political positions and not on the basis of his academic work.

Does anyone really think that people like that-- people willing to violate obligations of professional conduct in order to exact revenge for political disagreement-- would be mollified by Dan's late and reluctant endorsement of Kerry? In other words, are there any academics who *would* vote to deny tenure to a free-trading, libertarian-leaning, Republican who has worked for W's campaign in the past amd who voted for W in 2004, who would *not* vote to deny tenure to the same person just because he voted for Kerry in 2004? Dan hasn't renounced his substantive beliefs or his Republican registration or affiliation. Surely, for any academics who would act so unethically as to deny tenure on the basis of political disagreement, those beliefs and that affiliation would be sufficient reason.

Dan has almost certainly *cost* himself future professional opportunities with his endorsement. (Not true for me; I was never a likely candidate for government service in a Republican administration.) But he hasn't gained anything of a tactial career nature. Apart from being insulting, it's just *implausible* to suggest that he made his vote choice on those grounds.

posted by: Jacob T. Levy on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

Ernie said,
>We don't know the man, yet he could be the next Adolf Hitler, and you people would still say "anyone but Bush" without knowing his plan!

How likely is it that we'll get someone closer to Hitler than Bush, really? Now I know that I'm exaggerating a great deal here, but Bush is I think the most ruthless president this country has ever had, in terms of questions about following the Geneva conventions, for one.

That, combined with Bush's disregard for the environment, labor and science in favor for industry - how many reasons for voting against Bush do you need?

posted by: Democrat Dan on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

"Now I know that I'm exaggerating a great deal here, but Bush is I think the most ruthless president this country has ever had, in terms of questions about following the Geneva conventions, for one."

Dont start believing your own Kool-aid now. Bush is worse than The Trail of Tears? Putting down the Whiskey Rebellion? Repealing Habeus Corpus during the Civil War? Japanese Internment Camps? Kent State? Hyperbolize much?

posted by: Mark Buehner on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

I was for Kerry at the beginning of the primary season and stuck with him even as his poll numbers indicated that he supposedly had no chance.

The main reason people are negative about Kerry is that every single asset he has has been turned into a liability by the Bush campaign. He was a war hero (ah, but he may have been in or near Cambodia in January, not December!); he turned against the war that he recognized was wrong (ah, so he is a traitor!); he was against the same wasteful weapons systems that then-Secretary of Defense Cheney was against in the 80s (ah, so he was on the wrong side in the Cold War!); he was against rushing into a war in 1990/1, a war that ultimately led to the terrorist attacks on America (ah, so he was on the wrong side in the first Gulf War!); he was for cutting wasteful and unproductive intelligence spending in 1994 (ah, so he cut our intelligence budget after the "first terrorist attack"), but by less than Porter Goss, the new CIA chief (ah, so - never mind...).

He hasn't initiated many bills in the Senate - unlike those many other senators who were eager to get some pork for their constituents. He HAS led important investigations in the Senate and also as his time as prosecutor in Massachusetts.

He is a tradionalist, even a conservative, but one who doesn't believe that his views should be imposed on others. He is thus a "conservative Liberal", which gives people looking for more simplistic labels lots of ammunition to paint him as inconsistent in his beliefs. There is nothing inconsistent about believing that abortion is wrong, but also believing that this view should not be imposed on those who don't believe it.

Why more people aren't making these points I don't know. It seems to be fashionable to be against both and vote for the "lesser evil".

posted by: gw on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

Its a testament to how colossally awful the Bush presdency has been that Kerry still has all these cold votes wandering in.

I suspect even Goldwater and Reagan would have turned on Junior.

posted by: Jon Manfrenjenson on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

ha! fair enough - I did indeed exaggerate some. And probably listening to too much Howard Zinn and Noam Choamsky these days. Regardless, there ARE many instances in our countries history where things happen which we are not at all proud of, and even if you dislike my use of hyperbole or incorrect comparisons, I think it is very apparent that the Bush administration has degraded any moral high ground we had prior to him, made conscious decisions with lack of regard to such things as Geneva Conventions and thrown out every international treaty which was inconvenient to him (e.g. 1972 Non-proliferation treaty), begun testing on small nuclear bunker buster bombs, and failed to hold administration officials accountable for short-comings on these and related issues (e.g. Abu Graib).

Now you can argue on the necessity, justification or relevance to the election of such actions, or whether some of these were merely unconscious actions born from negligence, but that they've happened is unavoidable.

posted by: Democrat Dan on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

In terms of ruthlessness, Bush certainly comes in behind both Roosevelts, Lincoln, Truman, LBJ, and Nixon. Probably behind Jackson, Wilson and Reagan as well. Hyperbole is a greatly devalued currency on the internet. Try to have both more style and more substance next time you try to spend it.

posted by: dave on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

I can't think of a single politician that I like or would want to spend any more time with than I absoulutely had to. I feel the same way about sales people.

But just as you have to buy something every once in a while, you have to choose a president, so dealing with politicians and sales people is an unpleasant necessity.

My take is that a salesperson who has

  • consistently misrepresented his product
  • sold me unnecessary things that he claimed were imminently necessary
  • lied about the price
  • failed to deliver a working product
  • and refuses to admit that anything is wrong
is not the salesperson to do business with.

Do I have to personally like my president or my salesperson? No. All I ask is competence and honesty. Or at least something closely approximating it.

posted by: uh_clem on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

zathras: so you want a president who just makes choices, no matter how bad those choices are? Cause it sure appears that way...

I am in a "safe" state, so, in reality, my single independent vote won't really affect the outcome here. So I voted for a platform, and it was neither demoaristoctratic or republifascist. Because, really, the major parties are both becoming more authoritarian, in different directions. But in a swing state I would have voted for Kerry because Bush is so bad on my speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, etc...

posted by: flaime on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

I admit it, I like Kerry. I shiver at the thought of dining with most senators, but Kerry would be interesting at least. During the primaries I thought Kerry was boring. But I have grown to like what Kerry has done and who he is. He has managed to withstand the tirade of attacks and the worst thing that stuck is flip-flopper. That shows some real intelligence and cunning. And I respect his work on Vietnam. In a similar situation I would likely still be saying "Nuke the F---ers". I have come to like him and to look forward to seeing what he can do with this congress.

Of course even if I did not like him I would think that Bush is resposible for the broad perception that the US tortures and secretly detains foreigners and that are jailors are all sodomites.

posted by: Mr Ed on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

How about this for a succinct answer: Get out of your echo chamber. You live in Chicago, and I know lots of people in Chicago who actually like Kerry a great deal. The whole of public opinion isn't represented by jaded bloggers and journalists. This is such a pathetic topic. John Kerry is a good and decent man who has been pilloried for being thoughtful, stylistically conservative, and even-tempered. Just what is it that bothers about someone with these admirable traits?

posted by: ah on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

I can't remember ever reading such negative endorsements of a Presidential candidate. It seems to me that many of you have intuitive feelings that Kerry is simply not a good guy. His character, Senate record, personality, and policy ideas, for a future administration, are all viewed with either disgust or doubt. You also obviously don't like Bush. In fact some of you downright hate him. However, the undercurrent is that Bush is more solid, decisive and has a tract record that goes beyond unproven rhetoric and proverbial "ideas," like Mr. Kerry.

The US is on a course of action today, whether you agree or disagree with it. It has committed men and women who are physically laying their lives on the line supporting this course of action. Do you really think it is wise to throw it all up in the air to support a man with such an obscure core, like Kerry? I really disagree with all you intellectuals and ideologues who hope for the best with Kerry while demagoguing everything the current administration has done. Bush came into office on the downside of a slipping economy; was thrown into one of the worst homeland terrorism events ever; has negotiated through a thicket of international back stabbing, as illustrated by the UN, France etc.; and has withstood unprecedented vitriol from the left, as he has attempted to figure out the right decisions to make. This election reminds me of a family feuding over the spoils of their inheritance, while the health of the family member ailing declines. Our country is being raked over the coals by all of our internal divisions. Our troops are being demoralized overseas by many of Kerry's comments. The bickering and body slams being delivered, in a campaign where lies, media bias,and exaggerations flourish, are being viewed as the norm. This is almost sociopathic!! I think it is amazing that Bush can function so well through such a blitz, while continuing to keep his eye on the country as the current Commander-in-Chief. Of course, you all want to change that and bring in Kerry because.....?

posted by: Jan on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

So now it's the "But I don't love him!" whine. To go along with the "But he's not a true man of God!" whine and the "I wouldn't want to have a beer with him" whine.

We're not electing a Beer Buddy. We're not electing a Priest. And we're not electing a Boyfriend, either.

We're electing someone who has to deal with an Augean Stable worth of sh*t: a war going south, a war on terrorism that's become a recruiting poster for terrorists, a tattered international reputation, an economy of downward mobility, and a national debt that gives economists cold sweats.

You'd rather share a beer and a joke with George? Fine. He'll be available after Nov 2, and probably in the mood to fall off the wagon in a big way.

I don't "love" John Kerry, because I don't "love" people I have no personal relationship with. I've followed Kerry's career for a long time now, and I respect him. I trust him. That's enough.

posted by: Palladin on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

you all want to change that and bring in Kerry because.....?

Because Bush has displayed such overwhelming incompetence, dishonesty and bad judgement that renewing his contract is just simply not an option.

Could it be any clearer?

posted by: uh_clem on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

Jan, our troops are not being demoralized by Kerry's words anymore than they are by Bush for putting them there. That's the TV ad talking.

Far fewer people are upset with Bush's decisions than they are with Bush's enactment of those decisions. They like what he says - hate what he does.

The Bush-haters here point to specific actions that made them angry or distrustful. The Kerry-haters point to fears and suspicions of imagined actions. One seems real to me, the other not.

My opinion is that Bush has done a bad job - period. I don't keep staff around that perform bad jobs, even when I have no guarantee that their replacement will be better.

posted by: wishIwuz2 on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]


Did you watch PBS Frontline last
night, "Rumsfeld's War", (10-26)?

If one could, It makes one want to
vote for Kerry TWICE!

Looks like the army is either or about
to be 'broken' again like in Vietnam.

The more things change the more they
stay the same...

posted by: James on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

I was stupidfied reading the Slates, they live in a cancoon.
"The question to ask is: assume both Kerry and Bush will completely embody their worst stereotypes -- which candidate leaves the country better off? By a hair, I think it's Kerry."

I begin to doubt if you're sane Mr. Drezner! :)
That doesnt make sense at all in your own reasoning:

1- You said that the Bush strategic vision is better and that Kerry will eventually head there.

I cant see how a wrong strategic decision can be better than a (lets assume) deficient decision process. At least they can tie.

Mark my words:
Bush will win even if he looses the election next week.

1-Kerry if wins will have to fight an insurgency much more stronger political force and will, they defeated politically Bush.
2-The US soldiers morale will go down.
3-Many Iraquis will stop cooperating with USA.

That will be the history of the next months if Kerry wins. In that days Bush will be remembered.

Of course after that Blair will loose the election next year, or the labour change lider, either way Britain will be out of Iraq. Britain out means of course the 7000-8000 soldiers of Japan, Polish, Italians and Korean are out too.

Without them there no Iraq operation for US.

Kerry wins implies the defeat of European USA supporters and the collapse of the operation.

posted by: lucklucky on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

Just a comment here, not entirely on the point Dan was trying to make:

I read a lot of comments (and have written a few myself) about the candidate's respective ideologies, substantive positions, past records, religious beliefs, even their personal appearance. I haven't read too many comments about their relation to the pollsters, campaign consultants, and media figures whose whole interest in this campaign is the campaign itself, not what happens afterward.

One of the most objectionable things about the Bush administration is the place in the White House occupied by a man who is essentially the manager of his reelection campaign, Karl Rove. I mean, really -- how many worse things can you say about a President than that he was prepared from Day 1 to subordinate the public interest to the requirements of an election campaign, especially one (as it was in January 2001) years in the future? I don't recall John Kerry ever mentioning this.

Why? Because Bob Shrum has his heart set on Rove's office, and what he wants from Kerry he will get. And the propriety of Rove's prominence hasn't attracted much media attention either. Why? Because most of the media -- I exclude reporters, mostly print reporters, who focus on one policy area -- treat public affairs as entertainment, and the campaign is by far the most entertaining part of public affairs. The media want people like Karl Rove; they need sources for reporting about the campaign. After the campaign is over, they need commentators who can help with reporting on the next campaign.

There is something deeply corrupt about this. I know a lot of people who make campaign politics their profession -- and, incidentally, I respect that profession -- and the great majority of them don't know anything about substance. Politicians at the highest level have a duty (not to say a vested interest) to keep these people in their place, which is to say far away from the rooms where policy decisions are made as possible. Richard Nixon, who to be perfectly fair knew more about campaign politics than anyone who worked for him, would not have given this subject a second thought, especially if it touched on foreign policy or another issue he cared about.

Today the idea that Karl Rove or Bob Shrum be occasional guests only at the White House would be treated by both the two candidates and the media as much more radical than nationwide gay marriage or surrender in Iraq. It would represent a sea change in the way things are done. Which to me is not a good reason why it shouldn't happen.

posted by: Zathras on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

Zathras - You're assuming that Shrum will be "Kerry's Brain" as Rove is "Bush' Brain" - on the basis of no evidence whatsoever.

posted by: Palladin on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

The question to ask is: assume both Kerry and Bush will completely embody their worst stereotypes -- which candidate leaves the country better off? By a hair, I think it's Kerry.

huh? it comes down to which side can draw the scariest caricature of the other guy? well then i guess it's no surprise you've cast your lot with the bushhitler crowd.

posted by: Azazello on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

If you were selecting someone to manage your money, would you go with someone who's a little dull, but highly competent, or would you go with someone who's the life of the party, but has a record of failure and dishonesty and can't even see where he's messed up, and blames any problems on someone else?

I, personally, would choose the dull guy. He's going to be spending time with my accounts, not with *me*, so why should I care how fun the guy is?

posted by: Jon H on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

I also did my own version of a minimax, which Kevin Drum and I have blogged back and forth about.

My take was this, on the WoT alone:

Let's do it this way:
Best/Most Likely/Worst

Bush: 8/6/3

Kerry 9/4/1

I think that Kerry's best case (the UN and NATO actually work) is marginally better than Bush's best case (the French and Germans, once he's elected, work to save the relationship and TotalFinaElf's contracts).

Kerry's worst case, however, is far worse than Bush's. By waffling and getting spun by the Europeans and mainstram Arab states, we wind up with a resugence of state-enabled terrorism and ultimately the real Jacksonians take power here in the U.S.

And the most likely case is marginally better for Bush than for Kerry.

Which is who I'm voting the opposite way from Dan.


posted by: Armed Liberal on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

Well, I actually quite like Kerry. He is a way better politician than Gore, and more principled than Clinton. He has been at the forefront of several issues in the past (Iran Contra, the BCCI banking scandal, environmental policy, and more recently selling a more realistic policy on Iraq to a reluctant Democratic primary electorate).

I have two concerns about Kerry -- 1) he can be slowed down by a tendency to over-study issues by committee, rather like Bill Clinton; and 2) I'm not sure how his prosecutorial approach, e.g. Iran-Contra and BCCI, transfers to the presidency.

Nonetheless, both these "concerns" could turn out to be advantages compared to this administration -- 1) Kerry will make decisions based on objective reality and 2) he won't take any shit from anybody, as even arch-Democrat Clark Clifford found out when he ended up on the receiving end of Kerry's BCCI investigation.

Bush, on the other hand, is 1) faith-based and 2) utterly unwilling to stand up to the thugs/incompetents in his own party. The evidence? Look at the way this administration respects fundamentalist religion, kooky postmodernism and its own gut instincts and prejudice, and look at how it disrespects scientific inquiry. And look at how Bush has not vetoed a single piece of legislation in his presidency from this Republican Congress, no matter how pork-encrusted or loopy -- that must be some kind of record.

posted by: Daniel on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

Your line about the Matrix movies inspired a little photoshopping and a rant of my own.

posted by: Neil K on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

Hehe well for a change :) the Bild is slight right leaning but i didnt expect this strong take.,,2-10-1665_1611474,00.html

"Berlin - Europe's top-selling newspaper, Germany's tabloid daily Bild, endorsed George W Bush for United States president on Tuesday, saying he would do a better job fighting terror and not ask Berlin to send troops to Iraq.

Bild, in what a spokesperson said was likely the first US election endorsement in its 51-year history, said Bush was a known quantity in Europe and had a better sense than Democratic challenger John Kerry of what Washington could expect from its transatlantic partners.

Bush knows that Europe and Germany do not have the military capacity for a significantly larger commitment of troops beyond their current deployments abroad..."

read all...

posted by: lucklucky on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

Hitchens is an ass. Don't worry your head about him.

I like Kerry a heck of a lot more than I did Bill Clinton in 1992, and I voted for him and was happy when he won.

Democrats just don't do hero-worship these days.

posted by: Matt McIrvin on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

John Kerry = Bob Dole; the hold your nose candidate.

posted by: Publius Rex on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

How does the Financial Times article prove his advisors don't know what he is thinking when it comes to trade?

All of his trade people are from the Clinton administration. His trade representative is Lael Brainerd. And more than that, Bob Rubin is actively supporting Kerry. If Kerry were really planning on protectionist policies, he wouldn't be doing that.

The fact that Kerry has demagogued the issue is a big concern. But I think that this is truly one case where, thankfully, all of the talk will end up being just that: talk.

posted by: Brian on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

I have to say, I like Kerry, and generally speaking, the more I have seen him, the more I've come to like him. He's far from perfect, but he's certainly a step up from what we have now. And more than that, I don't care if he's aloof or sometimes awkward in public. Nor do I care if he can be a little bit like a prick sometimes. I'd rather have a guy like that than an incompetent individual. At the very least, I'm willing to give Kerry a shot.

posted by: Brian on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

Two points...

First, why exactly do you have to be in Love with your President? Isn't having a competent leader who can be respected enough? What do you think this is, an American Idol contest?

Second, this complaining about Kerry being a demagogue. First, I would love to hear why anybody thinks he is against fair and free trade. When we went through the primary process, only Gephardt and Kucinich were against that. Everyone else was for it, including Kerry. I'm wondering if you aren't listening to what GW Bush has to say about Kerry rather than what Kerry has to say about Kerry. As someone else noted, his advisors are pure Clinton wonks.

And when you look at the record. GW Bush has imposed more protectionist measures than Clinton did. We're still suffering from his tariff on Canadian lumber products.

Besides, does anybody actually trust GW Bush campaign rhetoric after he pretended to be a moderate in the 2000 campaign and has broken nearly every single substantial promise, most importantly being a uniter instead of a divider?

No, I didn't think so.

and that's really the point.

posted by: Steve4Clark on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

And what if both candidates manage to live up to their best asiprations? Which candidate would leave the country and the world better off? By a mile, I think it's Bush.

posted by: Tony on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

Sitting down for breakfast on Tuesday AM at the "Down Home Diner" in Philly, the buzz around the counter was the vist by Kerry and Bubba the day before. My favorite waitress commented on the event by stating, "If it weren't for Clinton being there, no one would have showed up. If he could run again, he'd be elected in a landslide".

posted by: par65 on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

Let's say I'm in the booth next week, and considering a vote for Bush.

I want to pull the lever that reads, "OK, I don't like the job you did, but I'll give you one more chance, and I expect big changes in the way things get done."

Of course, there is no such lever. If Bush is reelected, he will see it as no less than full and complete validation of his job performance. We will get nothing else but more of the same.

And if there was such a lever, I still doubt he would get the message. There is quite a bit of evidence that Bush sees and hears only what his close inner circle allows him to see and hear. My message would be contradictory to Bush Admin preconceptions - hence just noise to be ignored.

posted by: wishIwuz2 on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

Zath - I don't get you. You lay out a terrifying scenario of the political advisors new (unprecedented, actually) and highly questionable role as a permanent fixture in the White House, yet it's the imagined placement of Shrum, not the very real and current existence of Rove, that bothers you.

In the years BB (Before Bush), presidential candidates, win or lose, turned to their political advisors after elections and said, "Thank you for the hard work. See you in 4 years."

This president turned to his and said "West Wing, 2nd door on the right, be there." Rove has a seat in the Situation Room(!?!). How, and more urgently WHY, is this allowed to be? What need is there for your political advisor while meeting with the Army to draw up Iraq battle plans?

posted by: wishIwuz2 on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

No, Dan, the problem is larger than a leap of faith. Significant portions of Mr. Kerry's constituency are diametrically opposed in their preferred positions. Part hope that Mr. Kerry is kidding when he says he'll stay the course in Iraq. Another part hope that he isn't kidding. They can't both be right. One or the other group will be bitterly disappointed and, assuming a Kerry victory, the next four years may well be determined by how they deal with their disappointment.

posted by: Dave Schuler on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

Actually, wish, what bothers me is the similarities between Bush and Kerry in this regard. I thought I was fairly specific as to my views on Karl Rove's role in this administration. As to what came before Bush, well, let's just say that "triangulation" was not designed as a theory of governance. It was intended as the most direct route to improving Bill Clinton's approval ratings, both before the 1996 election and afterwards.

I'd have more regard for Kerry if I thought he really intended to serve as President rather than as Candidate in Chief. We have one of those already and -- at the risk of belaboring this point -- I don't see many other politicians at the national level or many of the journalists who cover them who would have it any other way.

posted by: Zathras on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

Democrat Dan. Don't bother trying to kid us about your Abu Ghraid feigned concern. Dems as a whole never worried about such things when they were done by America's enemies.
People are being held accountable. BG Karpinski is a pretty big fish and is on the hot seat with some convictions of others on the way.
You think you can hustle folks into dumping Bush over AG by pretending there's no accountability.
Fact is, you are against Bush and hope the AG thing can be extended all the way to the top.
Have you ever pushed for the dumping a governor on account of abuses in a state prison?
Of course not. Nobody has.
The AG thing is crap and everybody knows it. The problem is that you don't know everybody knows it.

posted by: Richard Aubrey on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

OK Zath, fair enuff. But how does that square with your support for Bush?

This Admin has managed to define the WoT as a permanent and never-ending condition of daily life in America. More to your point, I suppose, is that they have also spread the message that it's not wise to change CIC's in the middle of war - in this case, a war they further contend may never end. Couldn't this be considered a philosophical attempt to establish a perpetual party-hold on the presidency?

And this, somehow, gives you pause about Kerry's intentions towards the same matter(??).

posted by: wishIwuz2 on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

Why I'm Voting Against My Commander in Chief
By David Thalheimer
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Friday 22 October 2004

I have been a registered Republican since I first became eligible to vote. I've been an Air Force officer for 20 years, first on active duty and now in the reserves. I gladly voted for Ronald Reagan in 1980 and supported his battle to win the Cold War. If called to serve in Iraq, I would willingly do my duty for my country. You might think I'm a slam-dunk for the Republican ticket this year, but you'd be wrong. I backed John McCain in the 2000 primary, but I did not vote for George W. Bush and I'm even more opposed to him after seeing his performance over the past four years. I can't say I'm a big fan of John Kerry, but he's a smart guy and I'm willing to give him a chance because Bush has done such a bad job and shows so few signs of improvement that he doesn't deserve to get reelected. This letter explains why I'm voting against my Commander in Chief.

President Bush would have you believe that he is making hard decisions and doing what needs to be done to win the Global War on Terrorism. While I have no doubt that he is trying, his actions have shown me that his judgment is poor and he and his advisers aren't smart enough to figure out the right way to win this war. Taking out Al Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan was a no-brainer, but the invasion of Iraq was a huge diversion of resources away from the real sources of terrorism. Showing the world that we can and will "take out" any country we want may make puny countries like Libya quiver, but it isn't a smart way to beat the terrorists or our real enemies - it plays right into their hands.

Bush has made no real attempt to win the support of the large majority of Muslims who oppose terrorism. Instead, he has created millions of new enemies around the world - people who used to admire the USA - and these people are now more likely to be recruited by or support future terrorists. It is now more likely that they will overthrow their moderate, pro-US governments, such as Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, and replace them with radical Islamic regimes. Far more dangerous to America than Iraq are the radicals trying to take over Pakistan (which already has nuclear weapons), the unpredictable leader of North Korea (which also has nukes), and Iran (which is allegedly working hard to get them). We are less secure today because we are creating more new enemies than we are able to kill or capture. There are smarter ways to track down terrorists and reduce the appeal of radical Islamic ideology, but Bush has decided to take the easy but wrong course of flexing America's conventional military might and intimidating the world rather than rallying our friends and allies around a grand strategy that has a chance of success.

American troops are doing the best they can to win in Iraq, but the decision to go to war and the lack of planning to win the peace were strategic political mistakes made by President Bush, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, and the senior White House staff. The rhetoric coming out of the White House about what is happening in Iraq not only continues to mislead our citizens, but it has misled our own troops. It has caused them to misjudge their enemies and make fatal mistakes in dealing with the Iraqi population. Senior White House decisions also sent the message to our troops that they could get around the Geneva Convention when interrogating suspected terrorists - with disastrous results for the detainees at Abu Gharib prison.

President Bush says he has fully supported his troops, but he is really taking credit for good Congressional support and ignoring his own poor record. He has repeatedly submitted defense budgets cutting active, reserve, guard and veterans' benefits, including imminent danger pay, family separation allowance, and the funding of VA hospitals, only to have them protected by Congress. Attempting to pay for tax cuts by cutting military benefits during wartime is outrageous and damaging to our military families.

While national security is of my most grave concern, there are other domestic issues that also matter and can't be allowed to suffer through another four years of bad policy.

I was recently shocked to learn that President Bush, despite all his talk about love of freedom, has attempted to deny our most precious freedom to American citizens who oppose him - the right to free speech. On many occasions, he has used the Secret Service to keep legal, peaceful protesters quarantined in designated "free speech zones" where nobody (especially the media) can see or hear them. Pro-Bush crowds are allowed to get near him during speeches, but people with signs critical of him have been forcibly moved away or illegally arrested. I find this outrageous and intolerable. Some provisions in the Patriot Act are also dangerous to our liberty in the hands of an attorney general who is willing to jail citizens for months or years without any possibility of judicial review. Many American citizens have been jailed secretly, and while I am all for giving the FBI greater powers to investigate suspected terrorists, there have to be checks and balances to protect us from over-zealous government officials. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and all Americans should be wary of any President who is willing to violate our most basic rights.

While I'm not a fan of extreme environmentalists who want to protect every endangered species around, I do care about the quality of my air and water and controls on toxic waste that could endanger all of our health. I'm willing to pay for healthy living conditions, and I don't think that such costs threaten the competitiveness of US companies against low-cost foreign companies that are allowed to pollute. President Bush has attempted to reverse environmental protections across the board and has given big business interests the ability to profit from the destruction of our natural resources. He forced the EPA to stop prosecuting Clean Air Act violators, attempted to increase the amount of toxic mercury allowed in our water, under-funded the cleanup of hazardous waste, reversed EPA bans on the sale of contaminated land, increased logging in our national parks, allowed giant pig "factory farms" to pollute the land, water and homes without having to clean it up, and ignored the threat of global warming. Yes, it costs money to have healthy living conditions and some countries don't want to pay the price. That's when the President has a duty to lead the world to negotiate good environmental treaties, not to refuse to participate, thus guaranteeing failure. He has a duty to protect American companies against unfair foreign competition, not give them a license to break the laws established to protect our own citizens. President Bush has failed to lead the world and protect our citizens from environmental hazards or unfair foreign competition.

President Bush also appears willing to sacrifice our national parks to the interests of oil companies, strip miners and loggers. Once these national treasures have been exploited, they will be ruined forever. Our parks belong to the people and I'm not willing to sell them out for a few bucks, most of which will go to private companies and the rest of which will go to support more government spending or tax cuts for the wealthy.

Finally, let me address the economy. I've never really believed that the President has much short-term influence over the state of the economy. However, I do know that cutting taxes and increasing spending is normally a great way to stimulate economic growth for a few years, while hurting us in the long-term when we have to pay off the debt. Yet, despite the billions in tax cuts and increased homeland security spending, I haven't seen any growth in jobs or spending. I guess that means all we get is the long-term debt. Finally - is President Bush willing to fix Social Security? No - but then again, I don't think anyone in Washington has the guts to do it.

The bottom line is this. President Bush had four years to show us what he can do. He has completely bungled our foreign policy and has been favoring big business interests and wealthy individuals over fiscal responsibility, the well being of our economy, and the health of our citizens. There is no way he's getting another chance if I have anything to say about it.

Sir, you are relieved of duty!

posted by: wyodave on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

Jacob Levy is assuming that Dan AND the tenure-granting academics follow his logic. Neither has to be the case. Dan could simply be getting cold feet, making a panicky last-minute move to side with the herd controlling his fate. The tenure-granting academics could appreciate Dan prostrating in repentence before them, as it would affirm their power. People think in different and surprising ways. There is not one type of thinking that governs them all.

posted by: cynic on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

I dont know how are the statistics made in USA but in my country an unemployment tax around 5% is considered almost full employment.

posted by: lucklucky on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

It is here, too, Lucky. Depending on who's president, that is.
At one point, unemployment below 6% was considered dangerous because potentially inflationary.
Now, a rate equal to the historical average and roughly equal to that under Clinton is evidence of Republican indifference to working people.
Keep in mind the media's watchword, "It all depends."

posted by: Richard Aubrey on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]


That was an excellent point. These people don't admit mistakes as it is, and even by the tiniest of pluralities, a win would validate what they have done.

posted by: Brian on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

Wish, as you've seen the point I'm making here relates to an issue hardly anyone is talking about (the dominance of the permanent campaign over the business of government even after election day), not the issue almost everyone is talking about (terrorism).

And yes, with respect to the second I do prefer Bush. He's not the one who is insisting that the war against Islamist terrorists may go on for years -- the terrorists made that declaration long before he did. I approve his determination to fight it. Off his own record in public life and the record on terrorism of the last Democratic administration I doubt Sen. Kerry's determination will last so long, his campaign rhetoric notwithstanding.

posted by: Zathras on 10.27.04 at 02:57 PM [permalink]

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