Monday, August 09, 2004

The Empty Candidacy

I have been politically aware since my first Stevenson campaign in 1956. Coming from a political family, with a Republican father and a Democrat mother, has given me a fine education in the great game that lies under the surface of our national debate. While the voters merely want the better government of the (usually) two choices, these choices are presented to us as the result of a dirty, vicious, propaganda-driven battle over power and patronage. Thus it is that we are generally given a choice between two less than desirable candidates - any really desirable candidate would never allow himself to be the figurehead in this human hamburger-grinder process. Any man who would choose to spend his entire career as a politician would have decades of humiliating activity in his wake by the time he gets up to the plate for the really big play, the race for the Presidency of the United States of America.

Actually, there are other offices that carry better benefits, and better hours, than the Presidency. Even the Mayor of New York City has more patronage jobs to give to his supporters and cronies - at higher pay - than the President. Some states give their governors more freedom of action, and more fun. But to anyone who has made the acquisition of power the goal of his professional life, the draw of the presidency is irresistible.

But John Forbes Kerry, the new JFK, would like us all to forget about his entire life of the last 35 years. He tells us, and we are expected to believe, that four months on a PT boat, just like the one that his hero, the old JFK commanded, is the sole qualification that makes the compelling case for his election. He and his handlers clearly believe that this, plus what they perceive as a widespread hatred or distrust of the current President, is all they will need to hoodwink half the voters into supporting their cause.

This is, without question, the most cynical campaign in my memory. The calculus is that the lefties and the blacks will vote for the donkey in any case, and all the votes they now need are people who are so politically naive, or so stupid, that they will vote for a collection of statements and propaganda that bear no resemblance to the record that the candidate has collected by his own actions. No mention is allowed of his record, and any attempt to put his record before the voters is condemned as "a negative attack." The willfull complicity of most of the mainstream media in this charade makes this a strategy that may very well succeed. Mind you, I do not believe that it will, but to deny the possibility would be to invite it.

Even so, the candidate has made a few, very few, statements about exactly what he would do as President. For instance, he has pledged in no uncertain terms that he will allow no privatization of Social Security to take place. This is a perfect window on the candidate's soul. He is so far to the left of most of America that he believes that this is an uncontroversial issue. I would be happy to place the entire outcome of the election of the result of a plebiscite on this one. Yet Mr. McAuliffe and his team fail to see this. JFK has also said that he will not increase taxes on the bottom 98% of taxpayers, and the bottom 99% of small business. He did sneak in a proviso that a war would obviate this promise, showing another blind spot of McAuliffe and Co. We are already at war!

And that's the crucial issue, isn't it? The choice is between a man who claims that four months commanding a boat in war, and then running from that war, qualifies him to be President, and a man whose four years commanding the world's most powerful military, most of it in war, most of it successful, shows his qualification. McAuliffe and JFK desperately wish that we never look at the contest that way. Sorry guys, but the American people are not that stupid. As Mark Steyn so succinctly puts it:
If you wanted to pick a candidate on the wrong side of every major defense and foreign policy question of the last two decades, you would be hard put to find anyone with judgment as comprehensively poor as Mr. Kerry: total up his votes and statements on everything from Grenada to the Gulf war, Saddam to the Sandinistas, the Cold War to missile defense to every major weapons system of the 1980s and '90s. He called them all wrong.
That is what we should be talking about. Not less than a full tour on a PT Boat, but 19 years of voting in the U.S. Senate. Even the left-leaning MSNBC is no fan of Kerry's far left record. No wonder the candidate never mentions the fact that this record exists. But that is the job of the Bush campaign. It is not a negative attack to present incontrovertible proof of a man's professional record, of his stands over the last 19 years. When Kerry complains about our troops not having enough equipment, it must be pertinent to show that HE was the one who voted against the money for that very equipment.

One could go on, especially about Kerry's failure to support the rescue of Kuwait, which garnered us a pretty reliable friend in that part of the world, and we could examine his reason to oppose that action (he compared Saddam the Madman with the Soviet Union, and advocated another cold containment) but the question boils down to a simple choice. In one corner, we have a team which has proven that its manner of fighting this war is to be forward-deployed, and fight the war on the enemy's turf. In the other corner, we have a team that promises to await attacks, and respond with embargoes and treaties, and deploy troops only when there is no other choice. The two could not be more different, and the American people will choose. Any means that are used to move the debate between the candidates toward this issue are fair, and necessary. Any attempt to keep the choice to one between the leader we know well and an empty suit covered in a tissue of lies, now, that's the negative campaign.