Before my closing argument, just a couple of points, since Carol rebutted my rebuttal as well as my original post.
1. During Kerry's time on the Gridley, it was posted "off the coasts of" the Phillippines and New Zealand as well as Vietnam. To call that "Vietnam service" is a stretch, but never mind. Believe it or not, there is also a USS Gridley page on the Web, with its own John Kerry page. About all bringing that up shows is that, well, gosh, John Kerry the war blowhard lied/exaggerated/self-aggrandized about that service, too.
2. We can go back and forth about the domestic agenda and the economy till the end of time, and I don't think our basic views will change. Carol -- along with a legion of Kerry supporters -- obviously believes that the president and the federal government should dry every tear, remove every stone from our path, in all ways nanny us from the cradle to the grave. I believe otherwise. You can spin economic numbers anyway you want to, but would you really care to compare how things are now with how they were, say, during the same time period when Clinton was seeking his second term? You ask about talking to those "real" people suffering real hardship. If unemployment were only 2 percent, you could still find the same stories. Unemployment is, in fact, almost exactly where it was as Clinton was campaigning for a second term. Did you cry for those people, or do we just start playing the victimization card when it's a Republican in the White House? Are you going to seriously say that, until four years ago, we had nothing but wonderful jobs in this nation and that Bush has singlehandedly turned us into a nation of burger-flipers? There are global economic forces at work here, another issue on which the Kerry camp seems clueless.
Now to the close:
There are some undeniable facts about America and the world today than many Americans don’t seem happy about:
1. America is the last remaining superpower.
2. America is a stronghold of freedom and a repository of the wealth and decency freedom can generate.
3. The world is a dangerous place in which freedom, wealth and decency are prized but scarce commodities.
Acknowledging this reality is the only sane way for America to act in the current global landscape. The United States has the unrivaled ability to shape the world. If we believe we stand for what is right and good, we have the moral obligation to shape the world. If we accept that our power and sense of obligation make us the primary target of theocratic terrorists, despotic lunatics and nihilistic fanatics, we have the absolute necessity to shape the world.
It’s fair to look back on Manifest Destiny and Pax Americana critically. But they were signposts on the path we have always been on, the path that has led us to this moment of choice. How much more “bipartisan” could the journey have been? Jefferson stretched us from sea to sea. Lincoln made our whole greater than the sum of its parts. Roosevelt put us on the world stage. Truman demonstrated our willingness to use our power, however terrible. Reagan left us the last superpower standing.
George Bush, I think, understands that journey and the need to push on. Maybe he didn’t before 9/11, but that outrage seems to have transformed him more than anybody else. He sees not just one defensive battle at a time, but the need to adopt and commit to a comprehensive strategy. He has an accurate perception of the world as it is and a clear vision of what it can and should be. He is willing to pursue that vision and to try to make us see it.
John Kerry wants to retrace our steps back along the path and, if possible, take a detour. He still lives in a 9/10 world in which we dare not act “lest we create more terrorists.” He would respond to attacks on us, but putting one piece of the puzzle in place at a time, not seeing the overall picture until it is far too late. He treasures world opinion above all, when it is blindingly clear we should be leading the world, not seeking its counsel. And while he works so hard to keep the messy world at bay, he would rededicate himself to every redistributionist strategy dreamed up from the New Deal to the Great Society, and then add a few more. We’re already facing bankruptcy when Baby Boomers tap into Social Security and Medicare? Never mind that, we can’t possible make any changes. And while we’re at it, let’s add universal health care, too.
The choices have seldom been clearer than in this election, the stakes never higher. We are not just talking about 3,000 people who died on Sept. 11 or 1,000 who have died in Iraq. We are talking how billions of people will exist in a world now delicately balanced between chaos and civilization, and whether America will try to tip that balance or just sit back and let events unfold.
Strangely enough, in this election full of odd and strange things, it is the “conservative” who wants to take the plunge and accept the risks, the “liberal” who wants to play it safe and hold back. But there you have it.
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