Sunday, October 31, 2004


Kerry can't "prove" he will keep us safer - and he doesn't have to (besides which, Bush has proven he can't)

Pundits opine that John Kerry is preferred by most voters this year on the economy and other domestic issues. And, indeed, there is no question that George W. Bush has been a disastrous president in this regard. We have shed jobs, piled on record deficits, and seen a drastic shift in the distribution of income. So why is Kerry not simply blowing this failed president out of the water?

Supposedly this is because voters feel unconvinced that Kerry will protect us better than Bush. They are said to trust Bush more than Kerry when it comes to dealing with the threat of terrorism. They don’t think Kerry has proved that he could do better than Bush.

Well, how could he? How could anyone prove that? What evidence would serve to make the case? As long as the press keeps spinning Bush as a “strong leader” in this regard, as long as they keep repeating Bush’s talking points on this issue, Kerry has no chance to prove it.

But why should he have to? If, in 1999, there had been documented proof that Al Qaeda was about to attack the United States, who would have seemed more capable of dealing with it? A one-term Texas governor with no experience of any kind in foreign affairs – or a two-term sitting Vice President with almost 8 years of CIA and Defense Department briefings, well experienced at the highest levels of international relations, an expert on terrorism, a heartbeat from a president who had been dealing with terrorism from just about his first day in office?

And yet, you say, Bush has the experience now. But Kerry has spent his entire term in the Senate dealing with these issues. He has a tremendous amount of experience dealing with terrorism; so much so, in fact, that I do not understand at all why he has not made more of it. He brought down BCCI, the terrorist-financing bank (with which, incidentally, George W. Bush had ties). He exposed our dealings with the Contras – terrorists if there ever were any, despite Reagan’s fantasy that they were the “moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers.” He wrote a book on terrorism in 1997. He has spent his entire adult life dealing with threats to the United States. He has survived combat, he has killed with his bare hands. Why would anyone think he would be less than 100% committed to defending us from terrorism?

Okay, I admit it. He can’t prove that he will defend us. Satisfied?

But George Bush has proved that he can’t and won’t defend us. Osama Bin Laden’s Friday tape, far from making the case that we need George Bush in the Oval Office, is the final definitive prove that we need him as far from the presidency as we can throw him. Osama Bin Laden attacked the United States. He murdered 3000 Americans. Why is he still at large making his taunting, threatening tapes? Because George Bush let him go free (whether specifically at Tora Bora or not is irrelevant). Because George Bush would rather conquer Iraq – which did not attack us – and which could not have attacked us. Nor could they or would they have given nuclear weapons to terrorists – because Iraq did not have any nuclear weapons to give. (Sadly, the terrorists are now getting their hands on what remnants of Saddam’s nuclear programs existed – because Bush did not invade Iraq with sufficient troops – or suitable orders – to secure Saddam’s weapons sites.)

We are not safer for ignoring Al Qaeda to go after Saddam Hussein. We are less safe. Yes, Saddam is not in power. Yay. But he was not a threat to us! If your entire argument is, I can keep America safer – who cares about Iraq? Bush waffles between saying the invasion was justified to remove a threat to us and because it freed the Iraqis from a terrible dictator. True, Saddam Hussein was a terrible dictator (although no more so than when Reagan sent Donald Rumsfeld to shake his hand in 1983 or when we backed him in his war against Iran.)

But if we really care about the Iraqi people, then it’s not about protecting us, so Bush loses his only possible claim to hang on to the office he has shown he doesn’t deserve (besides which, with the chaos and violence in Iraq getting worse every day, Bush has clearly lost the peace even if he won the war, since, Saddam's removal aside, the Iraqis really aren't that much better off at the moment). And if it is about protecting us, then why go after Saddam while letting Osama go free? Either way, Bush has screwed up the job of protecting this country.

So, Kerry can’t prove he’s the man. But Bush has proven he’s not the man. Why take a chance? Get rid of the incompetent one and give the job to Kerry. Bush has manifestly failed to protect us. Kerry’s entire career indicates he won’t fumble the ball, won’t rest until we’re as safe as he can make us. Seems like no risk at all to me.

Too bad the press won’t let you think this.
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