Friday, October 22, 2004
I've made up my mind
So I'm voting for Kerry.
In my two threads on the subject (here and here), I've been amused to read suggestions by fellow Republicans that I'm overanalyzing things and should just trust my gut. If I had done that, I would have known I was voting for Kerry sometime this summer because of Iraq. To put it crudely, my anger at Bush for the number of Mongolian cluster-f**ks this administration was discovered to have made in the planning process in the run-up to Iraq was compounded by the even greater number of cluster-f**ks the administration made in the six months after the invasion, topped off by George W. Bush's decision not to fire the clusterf**ks in the civilian DoD leadershop that insisted over the past two years that not a lot of troops were needed in the Iraqi theater of operations. No, if I was voting based on gut instincts, I would have planned on voting for Kerry and punching a wall afterwards.
Reading the New York Times recap of the postwar planning by Michael Gordon just brought all of this back to the surface. The failure by Rumsfeld and his subordinates to comprehend that occupation and statebuilding requires different resources, strategies and tactics than warfighting boggles my mind:
Maybe, maybe someone could give administration officials a pass in making that assumption. But once they realized that the Afghanistan analogy wasn't working, they never questioned their assumptions:
One other thing -- reading the Gordon article, what's stunning is that the administration never solved this dilemma:
No, it's back to thinking. In my original post on this topic, I said that, "I prefer a leader who has a good decision-making process, even if his foreign policy instincts are skewed in a direction I don't like, over a leader who has a bad decision-making process, even if his foreign policy instincts are skewed in a direction I do like."
I meant two things by this:
Some commenters have argued that a second Bush term would be different. However, ironically enough, the failure of Bush to reshuffle his team requires me to take this assertion.... on faith. And I can't do that.
I still have doubts about Kerry. Massive, Herculean doubts. His plan to internationalize the Iraq conflict is a pipe dream. However, here's the one thing I am confident about -- a Kerry administration is likely to recognize, once the multilateral diplomacy fails, that it will actually have to come up with a viable alternative. UPDATE: Kevin Drum has some persuasive points on this topic.
Like Laura McKenna, I'm not at all happy about my choice (And if the Kerry campaign is stupid enough to let Theresa continue to speak to the press, there's an off-chance that in a fit of pique I'll vote to deny her the opportunity to be First Lady.)
But in the end, I can't vote for a president who doesn't believe that what he believes might, just might, be wrong. To quote David Adesnik, "As a professional researcher, I think I simply find it almost impossible to trust someone whose thought process is apparently so different from my own."
Monday, October 18, 2004
A long, winding, and long-winded response
My previous post on my probability of voting for John Kerry generated a lot of feedback – and most of it was civil and respectful, a pleasant surprise given the tenor of the current political season.
It would be impossible to respond specifically to all of the arguments made by all the commenters and e-mailers, so I'm going to distill them into a few short bullet points:
Let's respond to these in reverse order. The last point I find really unpersuasive for three reasons. First, a President Kerry would be unable to implement any major domestic policy proposal without the consent of Congress, and there is no chance that Kerry will be able to command disciplined majorities in both houses. Which means Kerry will have to deal with the Republicans. And here, Kerry's weak Senatorial record is actually an argument in his favor, because I'm happy to have some gridlock in DC for a while (a related point: Daniel Patrick Moynihan's observation that it's impossible to enact major policy without a rough 2/3 consensus makes it highly unlikely that George W. Bush will be able to get Social Security privatization through, should he become president. So while I'd like to see that -- provided the transition costs could be funded -- it's an underwhelning reason to vote for Bush). Second, the details of the latest
The critique of Kerry's foreign policy team gives me greater pause. I do wonder whether people like Susan Rice would wind up being the Douglas Feiths of a Kerry administration, having to be "consistently bailed out of trouble by career diplomats," as my secret correspondent phrased it.
However, I have two rejoinders to this objection. The first is that the people who spark objections are second-tier appointments. The people at the top -- Richard Holbrooke, William Perry, and Robert Rubin in particular -- tend to command greater respect (though not love) among policy cognoscenti. But I can't guarantee that Holbrooke would be named Secretary of State if Kerry wins, and so that is disturbing.
Second, at least Kerry's second-tier people would actually talk to the career staff. One of the biggest problems with the Bush administration has been the tendency for people like Feith and Wolfowitz to simply ignore expert advice. Indeed, Feith in particular went so far as to create his own little intelligence shop to bypass DIA. Again, I'll take a group of medocrities who actually listen to their staffs than supposedly brilliant men like Feith who simply block out any information that contradicts their assumptions.
The critique of Kerry's own record of decision-making gives me the greatest pause. Kerry was on the wrong side of the nuclear freeze debate in the early eighties on the wrong side of the first Gulf War debate in the early nineties, and on the wrong side of the "lift-and-strike" optiuon put forward by Bob Dole on Bosnia in 1995. This Washington Post story by Dale Russakoff and Jim VandeHei from last week makes me feel even less sanguine. Key part:
The more I contemplate this argument, the more disconcerting I find it. It doesn't help that whenever I bring up John Kerry's name to Democrats based either in Massachusetts or DC, I don't feel a lot of love in the room. Their attitude towards Kerry is reminiscent of the disgust many of them felt towards Al Gore after the 2000 election.
The only response I can find to this argument -- and it's not a great one -- is that the John Kerry of 2004 has learned a little bit from his past mistakes. This is the essential thesis of Thomas Oliphant's much-cited essay on Kerry from this summer -- that because Kerry has screwed up, and because he knows he has screwed up and been forced to face the political ramifications, he is unlikely to adhere to a disastrous policy choice for very long.
Still, I find that this is the hardest point to rebut -- so I invite Kerry supporters to do so in the comments.
The final argument boils down to whether I'm misjudging the outcome of Bush's foreign policies. Which really boils down to Iraq.
Why did Bush invade Iraq? Three reasons are generally given. The first is the WMD issue. The second is the neocon argument -- to which I'm sympathetic -- that the Middle East was the region of the globe that seemed most hostile to liberal democracy, and it was also the region responsible for the growth in global terrorism, and that these two facts were not coincidental. If Iraq could be transformed into something approximating a democracy, it would put pressure on all the other regimes in the region to quit diverting domestic attention towards the Israeli/Palestinian issue and promote genuine reform. The third argument comes from Greg Djerejian's must-read post on why he's voting for Bush -- it's a quote from former Bush administration official Richard Haass in The New Yorker about why Iraq was invaded:
OK, to date, has Operation Iraq Freedom achieved any of these three goals? On WMD, yes, although I'm not sure anyone wants to trumpet that as a resounding success for the administration. On democratization, the jury is definitely out, and I hope I'm wrong about this, but it's very, very difficult to claim that current situation is a hospitable one for creating the kind of model state necessary for the grand neoconservative argument to work. As Djerejian acknowledges:
The third argument rests on perception -- does the Arab world now recognize that the U.S. is not a paper tiger? And this is where I firmly disagree with Greg. The mere existence of an insurgency able to explode bombs in the Green Zone eighteen months after the end of "major hostilities" makes the United States look weak. The escalating number of U.S. casualties makes the United States look vulnerable. The failure to properly police Iraq's borders makes the United States look incompetent. And as for what Abu Ghraib makes the United States look.... let's not go there.
What's so frustrating about this is the evidence that had things gone well, the U.S. would have reaped significant policy dividends. The invasion did help compel Libya into abandoning its WMD programme, and there's evidence it could have swayed Iran to do the same. However, as the occupation has proven more and more difficult, the desired bandwagon effect stopped with Libya.
For the Bush administration to have achgieved its policy goals in the region, it wasn't necessary that things go perfectly, but it did require that the U.S. respond as quickly as possible to adverse circumstances with an unstinting flow of men and materiel. Instead, there was apparently no real plan for the post-war phase (click here for more) and there has been a profound reluctance to increase troop levels or increase the supply of necessary materials.
Any international relations expert will tell you that the perception of resolve is a source of power. But it's far from the only source, and any measure of power that relies solely on perception is fragile to changes in the situation on the ground. At the present moment, I think Bush's perception is off and he can't and won't be comvinced otherwise -- this showed up in his poor foreign policy performances in the debates. Indeed, Bush's ability to articulate and persuade others of the rightness of his own foreign policy positions is shockingly bad. In the end, all he an say is "trust me." Well, I don't trust him anymore.
Kerry, for all of his flaws, has at least acknowledges that the U.S. is going to have to expand the size of its military to meet the current demands of U.S. foreign policy. Bush does not -- and the effects on America's armed forces will be deletrrious for the long run.
Some commenters have suggested that Bush secretly recognizes that mistakes have been made, and there will be changes after the election. I'm glad they're confident of that -- this David Sanger story in Sunday's NYT makes it clear that even insiders aren't sure about this:
So where am I now? I'm unpersuaded by arguments saying that Bush's foreign policy has been a greater success than commonly thought, and I'm not convinced that he would ever be able to recognize the need for policy change.
However, the responses to the previous post have fed my doubts about Kerry's bad foreign policy instincts -- enough to slightly lower my probability of voting for Kerry to 70%. So it's now up to Kerry's supporters to make their case -- how can I trust that John Kerry gets the post-9/11 world? How can I be sure that Kerry's policymaking process will be sufficiently good so as to overwhelm Kerry's instinctual miscues?
UPDATE: David Adesnik and Megan McArdle are also deliberating and asking questions (Megan has a lot of questioning posts up -- do check all of them out). Stuart Benjamin makes the libertarian case for Kerry.
Friday, October 15, 2004
About that p-value....
I've received a surprising number of inquiries about whether I've decided on Bush or Kerry for president. When we last left off, my probability of voting for Kerry was at 60%.
Slate is now surveying its contributors over the past year about their voting choices. The deadline is next week, which I'm using as my own deadline for making up my own mind.
After the debates, I'd say my p-value for Kerry is now at 0.8 (i.e., an 80% chance of voting for Kerry). I'm still uneasy about making this choice, because I remain unconvinced that Kerry understands the limits of multilateral diplomacy. Matt Bai's article from last Sunday's New York Times Magazine raises as many qualms as it settles in my mind. Take these paragraphs towards the end:
Now, I'm very sympathetic to the argument that Kerry's diplomatic style would play much better on the global stage than Bush's (click here for some evidence of this) -- and that this improved style would go some way towards advancing America's national interest via greater multilateral cooperation.
But I'm not sure it will go nearly as far as Kerry thinks it will. If the Senator from Massachusetts thinks that improved style, greater diplomatic efforts, concerted multilateral coordination, and even copious amounts of American aid can get India and Pakistan to sign on to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, or create a lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace, then, well, he's drunk too much of the multilateral Kool-Aid. Bill Clinton -- who epitomizes the kind of diplomatic style Kerry could only hope to achieve -- invested a fair amount of diplomatic capital on both of these flash points, during a time when America's global prestige was greater than today -- and in the end achieved very little of consequence. There are international problems where the conflict of interests are so sharp and the stakes are so high for the affected parties that all the outside diplomacy in the world won't achieve anything. And I can't help but wonder if Kerry believes he can somehow talk radical Islamists into submission.
So I'm troubled by this -- but at this point I'm more troubled by the Bush administration. Robert A. George has a New Republic column that encapsulates a lot of my difficulties voting for the GOP ticket this year. Here's the part that hit home for me:
Given the foreign policy stakes in this election, I prefer a leader who has a good decision-making process, even if his foreign policy instincts are skewed in a direction I don't like, over a leader who has a bad decision-making process, even if his foreign policy instincts are skewed in a direction I do like.
If Bush gets re-elected, he and his team will view it as a vindication for all of their policy decisions to date. Whatever groupthink occurred in the first term would pale besides the groupthink that would dominate the second term. Given the tactical and strategic errors in judgment that this administration has made, I have to lean towards Kerry.
My readers have the weekend to try to influence my p-value. As I said, the odds are good at this point that I'll tell Slate I'm voting for Kerry. But I strongly encourage Bush supporters to try and persuade me otherwise in the comments section.
UPDATE: The best effort to persuade me so far comes from an e-mail sent by a former US diplomat who served in both the Clinton and Bush administrations:
ANOTHER UPDATE: One of the sharpest students I've ever taught e-mails a sharp rebuttal:
*YET ANOTHER UPDATE: I'd like to thank the 95% of the commenters who have posted respectful arguments pro and con. I haven't enjoyed a comment thread like this in quite some time.
I'll try to address the more trenchant criticisms sometime this weekend.
MONDAY UPDATE, 11:50 CENTRAL TIME: This is taking longer than I thought, but I'll be posting something in the next few hours.
Friday, August 27, 2004
There's something wrong with this argument
There's something bothering me about this line of argument -- namely, that it applies with equal force to George H.W. Bush. Before he got elected in 1988, Bush Sr. was widely viewed as a resume looking for a position to fill. And he was a mighty fine president in my book.
I'm not saying that John Kerry is George H.W. Bush. I'm just saying that Lileks ain't persuading me.
UPDATE: Before adding a comment to this post, re-read it very carefully -- yes, that's right, I'm comparing Kerry to Bush 41, not to Bush 43.
Wednesday, August 18, 2004
Tipping towards one side of the fence
Phil Carter has a lengthy and compelling post that looks at the Tommy Franks book, American Soldier, and highlights highlights just how f#$&ed up the policy process leading up to Operation Iraqi Freedom really was (link via Kevin Drum). Some of the disturbing parts:
I don't agree the sentence about "junking the UN process," -- Germany gets the first-mover prize in that regard -- but beyond that Zakaria makes a powerful case about the primacy of process.
But what about the objectives? Matthew Yglesias responds to my previous post in this way:
Carter, Zakaria, and Yglesias are persuasive -- very persuasive.
Persuasive enough to reduce my probability of voting for Bush down to 0.4.
Monday, August 2, 2004
Laura Tyson vs... John Kerry
Here's an example of the difficulty in trying to nail down what a Kerry administration's trade policy would look like. On the one hand, Matthew Yglesias has a good American Prospect piece (expanding on this blog post) on what he learned in Boston about the Kerry economic team. The key part is his recount of what Kerry advisor Laura Tyson said:
This is music to my ears -- except that I then checked out the Kerry Edwards position paper on trade. On p. 2, I see this nugget of information:
Strictly speaking, the position paper does not conflict with Tyson's statement -- the former refers to "new free trade agreements," the latter to the WTO. However, Matt's implication that there's no wiggle room in a Kerry trade policy to use regulatory standards as a way of blocking trade liberalization is a bit overstated.
One final thought -- I'd like to see someone ask the Kerry economic team the following question: "It was recently decided to extend the deadline for the Doha round of WTO negotiations to the end of 2005. On p. 9 of your position paper on trade, the following is stated:
Does this review apply to Doha as well?"
The perils of excessive certainty
As for retaining cred on both sides, one shouldn't rule out the possibility of equally pissing off both sides as well.
On the latter point, I'm glad Atrios is so sure of himself -- I'll proceed with more caution this time around. Take the case of trade policy. I thought Bush was going to invest more political capiital into trade liberalization than he actually has (today's good news aside) and dismissed the campaign pledge to West Virginia steelworkers to provide protection as "campaign rhetoric." Whoops.
Kerry's rhetoric on outsourcing and trade has been more heated and more prominent than Bush's trade talk in 2000. His choice for vice president used even stronger protectionist rhetoric during the primary campaign. Even if the Senator from Massachusetts doesn't really mean it, there is the problem of "blowback" -- becoming trapped by one's rhetoric (See: George H.W. Bush, "no new taxes").
For the issues I care about, there's still a fair amount of uncertainty about what either a Kerry or Bush administration would look like come January 2005. At this point I'm not thrilled with my choice either way.
Bob Rubin's "probabilistic" decision-making style rested in part on deferring decisions until they were absolutely necessary. I'm happy to bide my time.
Thursday, July 29, 2004
Tyler Cowen gives me an assignment
Over at Marginal Revolution, Tyler Cowen makes a request:
Chris Lawrence's doubts aside, this seems fair to both me and my readers. I'll be posting my first p-value after Kerry's speech tonight. Obviously, this value will likely fluctuate over the next few months.
One thing the probability that I will vote for someone either than Kerry or Bush is zero.
Wednesday, July 28, 2004
This won't tip me off the fence -- but it does make me hungry
Jacob M. Schlesinger has a front-pager in the Wall Street Journal on ther contrasting management styles of John F. Kerry and George W. Bush (subscription required). The article is really all about Kerry's decision-making style, both pro and con.
Not much of note, except for this section where methinks Kerry doth protest too much about being more than just a legislator:
Whoa -- he started a cookie store? That tips the scales for me!!
Actually, if the cookie shop in question was Rosie's Bakery, that would be persuasive evidence for Kerry (this is where Erika and I got our wedding cake made). Convention bloggers, be sure to check it out!! Or, you can order online.
Seriously, here's some poll results from the Annenberg Public Policy Center on where Bush and Kerry stand on the leadership question:
UPDATE: Hmmm... Brad DeLong has thoughts on the story, but mysteriously omits any reference to cookie shops.
Somewhat more seriously, Janet Hook, Mary Curtius and Greg Miller have a blow-by-blow account of Kerry's decision-making process in the votes on Iraq in the Los Angeles Times.
Tuesday, July 27, 2004
Don't rush me off the fence, part V
One of the key factors behind my indecision over who to vote for is that I don't know which candidate will have the better trade policy. If you gauge American public opinion, this is a tough sell. The Bushies are all about hypocritical liberalization -- getting the big trade picture correct but offering as many exceptions as possible below the radar -- see Alex Tabarrok for the latest idiocy on this front.
So what about Kerry and the Dems? Ryan Lizza says I have nothing to worry about, that Kerry will be Rubinomics redux -- except Lizza is referring to fiscal policy and not trade. Although Rubin has always been a staunch free-trader, there's reason to believe that Kerry might ignore his advice on this matter. Michael Crowley voices this concern in his TNR Convention Blog post:
Sigh. I should be used to being out in the political wilderness on these issues. But that doesn't mean I have to like it.
I'll close with a link to Brink Lindsey's great July 2004 cover story in Reason, "10 Truths About Trade", which nicely debunks a lot of the horses#&@ that masquerades as policy debate on this topic.
UPDATE: Matthew Yglesias posts about a Laura Tyson speech at the National Democratic Institute's International Leaders Forum being held at the convention. The key grafs:
Here's the thing -- does Kerry's relatively protectionist rhetoric during the primaries innoculate provide him an only-Nixon-can-go-to-China kind of leverage if he's elected -- or does it politically constrain him from following an instinctive preference for an open economy? Remember that one reason George W. Bush slapped tariffs on steel in 2002 is that he essentially promised he'd do this during the 200 election campaign.
Tyson wants to dismiss Kerry's primary rhetoric -- I wish I could, but still have my doubts.
Thursday, July 15, 2004
Don't rush me off the fence, part IV
John Hawkins at Right Wing News has a post entitled "40 Reasons To Vote For George Bush Or Against John Kerry." I can't say I found all of them convincing, but #12 is somewhat compelling:
One could plausibly argue that Kerry's full-time job since early 2003 was running for president -- but he could have resigned if that were the case. The lead paragraph in this Reuters story doesn't make me feel any better about Kerry's posturing on Iraq, either:
Bush apparently didn't read it either, but I'm not sure Kerry wins my vote on the motto, "Vote for me -- I'll start paying attention after I'm elected." This was in the fall of 2002, when Kerry's only job as a candidate was raising money -- which is what all congressmen do all of the time. Plus, it's pretty hypocritical for a legislator to rail about executive branch overreach when he fails to exercise any due diligence when he has an opportunity to constrain said branch.
On a related point, Hawkins' 25th reason is also worth checking out.
Hmmm... maybe I should get off on the GOP side of the fence -- no wait!! Jesse Walker has a column at Reason online entitled, "Ten Reasons to Fire George W. Bush." His forth reason has weighed heavily on me since day one of the Bush administration:
As someone who cares about a good policymaking process as much as a good policymaking outcome -- because the former is a big factor that determines the latter -- the secrecy obsession doesn't sit well with me at all. Such an obession distracts from the suibstance of policy, and also needlessly filters outside feedback, which might be politically frustrating but is nevertheless an essential ingredient to the formulation of good policy.
Walker closes his column this way: "Making me root for a sanctimonious statist blowhard like Kerry isn't the worst thing Bush has done to the country. But it's the offense that I take most personally."
Walker gives fewer reasons than Hawkins, but the latter has a lot more chaff than wheat.
Still on the fence -- but slowly getting more depressed about my choices.
UPDATE: John Hawkins posts a response to Walker's points that's worth checking out. And Jonathan Chait's TNR essay about the Bush administration's attitude towards other political actors underscores Walker's point about secrecy.
Link via Matthew Yglesias, who thinks I'm undecided because I either want attention or a job from the winning candidate.
To be clear -- the reason I'm undecided is because I can't remember an election in my adult lifetime when I've been less enthused with my menu of candidates. There's an old maxim that voting is usually an exercise in choosing the lesser of two evils. I've felt that sentiment in some previous elections, but it was also easy to spot positive qualities that resonated strongly within me. This year I can't muster even the tiniest amount of enthusiasm for any candidate.
I'm pretty sure that attitude is not going to earn me a warm place in either candidate's heart. Besides, the Kerry team is already bursting to the gills with policy wonks, and as Mark Kleiman pointed out, the Republicans are probably pissed off at me as well.
[What about hallway rumors that you'll be the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate to face Barrack Obama now that Coach Ditka has passed?--ed. Yeah, that's how I want to spend the next three months -- getting thumped in the polls by the keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention and having to dodge allegations about an unhealthy obsession with Salma Hayek. Not a winning formula for tenure, I'm afraid.]
Wednesday, July 14, 2004
Don't rush me off the fence, part III
Brad links approvingly (yes, approvingly!!!) to a Jonathan Weisman story in the Washington Post, which opens as follows:
The campaign policy gap argument sounds pretty persuasive -- except that the lack of a campaign policy team for the Bushies shouldn't be surprising. Indeed, the Weisman article notes that the Gore campaign had the same set-up in 2000:
The party out of power is always going to have the bigger policy team. The campaign policy team for a sitting President or VP should resemble the current Bush arrangement -- ensuring coordination with the relevant economic policymaking bureaucracies.
Indeed, if you read Ray Simth's front-pager in today's Wall Street Journal on skyrocketing property tax increases, Adams seems to hold his own in the spin department:
[Er, blaming the bad economy is good spin for the Republicans?--ed. Yes, because most Americans have proven surprisingly sophisticated in recognizing that a lot of the hits the economy took a few years ago -- the dot-com crash, the terrorist attacks, the corporate scandals -- had little to do with Bush.]
Spin is one thing, substance is another -- and here, DeLong does have a suitable counterargument, linking to Stan Collender's National Journal column from late June:
Similarly, Daniel Gross' Slate article -- which speculates on who would be Kerry's Robert Rubin -- opens with this line:
Gross also has this killer quote from Richard Nixon's former Secretary of Commerce founding Concord Coalition member and classic Wall Street Republican Peter G. Peterson, from his just-released book, Running on Empty:
DeLong goes on to observe:
So maybe I should get off this fence -- no wait!! Two possible counterarguments:
1) Kerry gets hamstrung by the loony left. Even if Kerry's economic team is fiscally prudent, his governing coalition might not be. In the early nineties, Clinton had a similar choice between two sets of policy advisors, and went with the fiscal conservatives. Would Kerry have the latitude or the inclination to make the same choice? As Brad put it, "Kerry is not Clinton."
This is Jason Zengerle's concern in The New Republic (subscription required). The key graf:
2) Kerry may not listen to his advisers. Bruce Bartlett makes the following comment on Brad's blog:
Both of these concerns -- as well as my qualms with the Bush economic team -- could be addressed during the general election campaign.
Sooooo.... it's still too early to jump off the fence. Still sitting and learning, sitting and learning....
UPDATE: James Joyner thinks that the differences in teams is less significant in terms of policy outputs than DeLong:
On the other hand, Steve Chapman points out in his Chicago Tribune column that the Bush administration has acquitted itself badly on one issue it has some influence on -- pork-barrel tax cuts for corporations:
Friday, July 9, 2004
Don't rush me off the fence, part II
Virginia Postrel argues that fence-straddlers like me should resist the decision to despise George W. Bush because all the cool academics do it (Jacob Levy effectively defends himself against charges of trendiness).
More substantively, she argues that a Kerry administration would expand the size of government even more than a second Bush term:
Tyler Cowen supplies a counterargument. Some of it is compelling, but this part baffles me:
Huh? This is an administration that controlled all three branches of government for a majority of the first term -- and they felt confident enough in their political position to piss off Jim Jeffords less than three months into office. Compared to most post-war governments, the Bush administration had fewer constraints on its governing coalition.
Meanwhile Robert Tagorda argues that Kerry's selection of Edwards hints at a more protectionist Kerry administration:
The more I think about my choice, the more this election boils down to four questions:
UPDATE: Ezra Klein gives his answers to my Four Questions.
On my first question, this Kerry answer on Larry King Live is not comforting:
Later on, Kerry says he'll get briefed "tomorrow or the next day." On the other hand, this Washington Post story on Edwards' foreign policy background makes me believe that he does get the significance of the war on terrorism (link via Jack O'Toole).
[So your qualms about the administration's competence in foreign policy have been resolved?--ed. Hardly. I remain on the fence.]
Thursday, July 8, 2004
Don't rush me off the fence!!
As I've said before, my vote is still up for grabs this year. However, it's getting harder to maintain my Hamlet-like indecision.* A lot of people I respect make compelling arguments against pulling the elephant lever this year. Mickey Kaus -- who will never fall under the category of "Friends of Kerry" -- says he's not only voting for the Democrat -- he gave him money. Why?
Hell, even Peggy Noonan echoes point (a) of Mickey's logic in her last Wall Street Journal column:
I believe in the last component -- one reason why I'm still undecided -- but the first two make me think, "ewwwww."
Readers are welcomed to try and sway my vote in either direction.
UPDATE: Virginia Postrel's post does some decent swaying.
*Actually, it's not that hard -- the primary reason I'm still undecided is that the current domestic and international situations are both in extreme flux at the moment. There's no point in making a choice now if the state of the world is completely different three months -- in a way that makes one of the two principal candidates suddenly look really good or really bad. [Why not vote for a minor party candidate?--ed. Jacob Levy explains]