Monday, November 01, 2004
The nation’s on the wrong track, and the fool who is driving refuses to ask directions, let alone turn around. It’s time to take away his keys.
I knew the George W. Bush persona that campaigned in 2000 as a “compassionate conservative” was a fake. But I allowed myself to believe that -- after being chosen in 2000, not by the people, but by the U.S. Supreme Court with the opposite of a mandate -- Bush would have no choice but to govern from the center. Instead, Bush & Co. pushed a rigid, far right agenda.
That agenda has upended our economy, put our environment at risk, endangered the separation of church and state, and the right to privacy. And it has led to the disastrous war in Iraq which, in turn, has depleted America’s capability of defeating the terrorists who attacked us on Sept 11: Osama bin Laden (alive and well) and al Qaeda (alive and recruiting).
It’s a tragic joke to suggest that, by setting Iraq ablaze, we will somehow corral all the terrorists there and get them to stand still and fight us. We can fight the newly-minted terrorists and insurgents in Iraq until forever and that doesn’t mean we won’t have to fight them at home (or that they won’t get past our still-insufficient homeland security.) All we've done in Iraq is dilute our power.
I’ve liked and admired John Kerry ever since he burst upon the national scene in 1971 as a passionate and effective spokesman for Vietnam Veterans Against the War. As a senator, he made a difference especially in investigations of crime, corruption and drug trafficking but also in health care for children and in veterans’ issues.
As a presidential candidate, he offers a set of doable programs on both the international and domestic front that represent to me the kind of America that I want to live in: An America that “goes it alone” internationally only as a last resort, one in which our children are sent to battle against the correct enemy, and only if it is necessary, one that has taken the right steps to guard against attack.
I want to live in an America in which we believe in economic justice for workers as well as for employers, where working fulltime means not being poor, one in which there is a safety net for the less fortunate, one that takes responsibility for itself and doesn’t pass on its bills to the next generation, one which protects our beautiful land for Americans of the future -- and one in which my Constitutional rights are protected, even in a time of war and even if some people think my choices are misguided.
When we vote for a president, we vote for more than a person. We also vote for an administration (and also for a Supreme Court). The screaming irony is that George W. Bush touts himself as a strong leader but hasn’t proven himself competent enough to lead his own appointees.
As former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill and former anti-terrorism czar Richard Clarke have told us, Bush doesn’t ask questions, doesn’t read memos (including one very important one from Aug. 6, 2001). As he himself tells us, he doesn’t read newspapers and he gets advice from a very small coterie of people. Unfortunately, they happen to be the worst collection of advisers in modern memory: the neocon crew of Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Feith, and Rice – and that’s only on foreign policy. Look at the domestic side: Gale Norton in Interior; Elaine Chao in Labor; Rod Paige in Education; Tommy Thompson in HHS and the unspeakable John Ashcroft.
John Kerry can be expected to name smart and principled people to his administration. More importantly, he will lead them rather than the other way around.
And if there’s a mistake or an error, he won’t spend all his time trying to cover it up, as Bush has done with the Sept. 11 attacks – stonewalling the 9/11 Commission every step of the way. He won’t blame underlings as he has with Abu Ghraib and with the disasters of Iraq. .
George W. Bush is a president who has demanded loyalty oaths from his audiences. Government agencies under his control have rejected or distorted inconvenient scientific facts. A recent study suggests that his supporters like him because they don’t know what he stands for. No wonder his campaign success depends on a low turnout.
John Kerry represents the “fresh start” America so desperately needs.
posted by Carol Towarnicky at # 11:47 PM
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