I know I’m a bit behind in this news, but the Chicago Tribune has endorsed the re-election of President George W. Bush. Some of the more interesting portions of their endorsement are:
Bush’s sense of a president’s duty to defend America is wider in scope than Kerry’s, more ambitious in its tactics, more prone, frankly, to yield both casualties and lasting results. This is the stark difference on which American voters should choose a president.
There is much the current president could have done differently over the last four years. There are lessons he needs to have learned. And there are reasons–apart from the global perils likely to dominate the next presidency–to recommend either of these two good candidates.
But for his resoluteness on the defining challenge of our age–a resoluteness John Kerry has not been able to demonstrate–the Chicago Tribune urges the re-election of George W. Bush as president of the United States.
Bush, his critics say, displays an arrogance that turns friends into foes. Spurned at the United Nations by “Old Europe”–France, Germany, Russia–he was too long in admitting he wanted their help in a war. He needs to acknowledge that his country’s future interests are best served by fixing frayed friendships. And if re-elected, he needs to accomplish that goal.
But that is not the whole story. Consider:
Bush has nurtured newer alliances with many nations such as Poland, Romania and Ukraine (combined population, close to 110 million) that want more than to be America’s friends: Having seized their liberty from tyrants, they are determined now to be on the right side of history.
Kerry is an internationalist, a man of conspicuous intellect. He is a keen student of world affairs and their impact at home.
But that is not the whole story. Consider:
On the most crucial issue of our time, Kerry has serially dodged for political advantage. Through much of the 2004 election cycle, he used his status as a war hero as an excuse not to have a coherent position on America’s national security. Even now, when Kerry grasps a microphone, it can be difficult to fathom who is speaking–the war hero, or the anti-war hero.
Kerry displays great faith in diplomacy as the way to solve virtually all problems. Diplomatic solutions should always be the goal. Yet that principle would be more compelling if the world had a better record of confronting true crises, whether proffered by the nuclear-crazed ayatollahs of Iran, the dark eccentrics of North Korea, the genocidal murderers of villagers in Sudan–or the Butcher of Baghdad.
In each of these cases, Bush has pursued multilateral strategies. In Iraq, when the UN refused to enforce its 17th stern resolution–the more we learn about the UN’s corrupt Oil-for-Food program, the more it’s clear the fix was in–Bush acted. He thus reminded many of the world’s governments why they dislike conservative and stubborn U.S. presidents (see Reagan, Ronald).
Bush has scored a great success in Afghanistan–not only by ousting the Taliban regime and nurturing a new democracy, but also by ignoring the chronic doubters who said a war there would be a quagmire. He and his administration provoked Libya to surrender its weapons program, turned Pakistan into an ally against terrorists (something Bill Clinton’s diplomats couldn’t do) and helped shut down A.Q. Khan, the world’s most menacing rogue nuclear proliferator.
Kerry, though, has lost his way. The now-professed anti-war candidate says he still would vote to authorize the war he didn’t vote to finance. He used the presidential debates to telegraph a policy of withdrawal. His Iraq plan essentially is Bush’s plan. All of which perplexes many.
Worse, it plainly perplexes Kerry. (“I do believe Saddam Hussein was a threat,” he said Oct. 8, adding that Bush was preoccupied with Iraq, “where there wasn’t a threat.”) What’s not debatable is that Kerry did nothing to oppose White House policy on Iraq until he trailed the dovish Howard Dean in the race for his party’s nomination. Also haunting Kerry: his Senate vote against the Persian Gulf war–driven by faith that, yes, more diplomacy could end Saddam Hussein’s rape of Kuwait.
This country’s paramount issue, though, remains the threat to its national security.
John Kerry has been a discerning critic of where Bush has erred. But Kerry’s message–a more restrained assault on global threats, earnest comfort with the international community’s noble inaction–suggests what many voters sense: After 20 years in the Senate, the moral certitude Kerry once displayed has evaporated. There is no landmark Kennedy-Kerry Education Act, no Kerry-Frist Health Bill. Today’s Kerry is more about plans and process than solutions. He is better suited to analysis than to action. He has not delivered a compelling blueprint for change.
For three years, Bush has kept Americans, and their government, focused–effectively–on this nation’s security. The experience, dating from Sept. 11, 2001, has readied him for the next four years, a period that could prove as pivotal in this nation’s history as were the four years of World War II.
That demonstrated ability, and that crucible of experience, argue for the re-election of President George W. Bush. He has the steadfastness, and the strength, to execute the one mission no American generation has ever failed.
The Boston Globe, on the same Sunday two weeks ago, endorsed John Kerry. Truly, I expected nothing less – he is, after all, the hometown candidate. And, the Boston Globe, for all of its protests to the contrary, is a very liberal newspaper. So their endorsement of Senator Kerry was not a surprise to me.
I was shocked though that 90% of their endorsement was about domestic policy and hardly mentioned the real issues in this election: National Security, Terrorism, Foreign Policy. In my mind, and the minds of many, these are the three intertwining issues that will define the next four years for the United States. Then again, we are talking about the Boston Globe here…
In any event, I was quite pleased with the Trib’s endorsement of President Bush’s re-election – and their thoughts and ideas closely reflect my own.