The Osama Factor
To those of you who may now be leaning toward casting a vote for the President on Tuesday because of the recently released videotape of Osama bin Laden, I say this:
If President Johnson or President Carter or President Clinton - or for that matter, a President Gore - had let this evil man remain free for three years following the horrible murders of 3,000 innocent Americans, would you even think about casting a vote for their re-election?
President Bush has failed - miserably failed - as the leader our great nation to, in his own words, bring this man "to justice."
And in my opinion, the fact that bin Laden is still alive and apparently healthy is the number one most important reason to send Mr. Bush back to Crawford on Tuesday.
John Kerry for President
This presidential election is, without a doubt, the most important of our generation. Never in our nation's history has there been an era in which the responsibilities were greater for the United States, and never has a president been called on to meet such extraordinary responsibilities for the homeland and the world.
Sadly, the Republican incumbent has failed miserably.
The Case Against Bush:
Four years ago I argued that George W. Bush was not prepared - by any stretch of the imagination - for the presidency. I argued that America's roll as the shining beacon of freedom around the globe would be better protected with Al Gore in the White House. I sit here today, looking back over the last four tumultuous years, and find that my assessment of Mr. Bush holds horribly true.
In the challenging, historic years of his term in office, the President has continually chosen the wrong course for America, squandering opportunity after opportunity to become the great president this era so desperately needed. Instead, history will mark the Bush presidency as disastrous, short-sighted, bitter, and ugly.
Bush's tenure started off on the wrong foot. He lost the popular vote in the 2000 election by over half-a-million votes, yet squeezed into office in a Supreme Court-mandated Electoral College victory. Under such circumstances a true leader (indeed, a true patriot) would have reached across party lines to form a coalition government in an attempt to heal the partisan divisions of such a haywire contest.
If ever there was an election without a mandate, 2000 was certainly it. But George W. Bush didn't get it. In his book "Plan of Attack," Bob Woodward illustrates Bush's lack of respect for the results. According to Dick Cheney, "From the very day we walked in the building, a notion of sort of a restrained presidency because it was such a close election - that lasted maybe thirty seconds. It was not contemplated for any length of time. We had an agenda, we ran on that agenda, we won the election - full speed ahead."
And so it was. Upon taking office the Bush team and their slim Republican majority in Congress governed with a swift iron-clad right fist, driving their right wing agenda through the heart of America.
The result of such governance? Irresponsible tax cuts that led to back-breaking deficits, environmental mismanagement that opened up an early credibility gap with our global neighbors and allies, and a slew of ideological, activist judges.
Some say that 9/11 gave Mr. Bush the mandate he needed; that the attacks of that day gave him the latitude to do just about whatever he wanted. I say just the opposite is true. If ever there was a time to reach out and bring the opposition party into the fold and form a united front, if ever there was a time to be a "uniter, not a divider," post-9/11 was it.
During the dark days of September, 2001 - with 3,000 of our own citizens dead - we Americans were desperate for true leadership. We wished for a president who, in the spirit of Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt, would rally the nation to our new calling. Instead, all we got from President Bush was a request to "go shopping." As an American, I couldn't have been more insulted. As a member of the world community, I couldn't have been more embarrassed.
A little credit where it is due: President Bush's finest hour came with the decisive rout of the Taliban in Afghanistan. He earned much praise for the operation but then, in typical Bush fashion, threw it all away.
In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks we demanded a president who would hunt down al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden, taking the important war of ideas straight to the Muslim world in an effort to defeat the root causes of terrorism. Instead, George Bush took us to Iraq.
His reckless rush to war further divided an already divided nation. In the lead up to the invasion, those who pointed out the administration's misjudgments were accused of treason and cowardice. Even those within the administration (Paul O'Neil, Richard Clarke) who warned that Iraq was the wrong war were labeled "disloyal."
Well, as it turns out, those "disloyal, treasonous cowards" turned out to be right. There were no weapons of mass destruction. Since Bush's testosterone-induced strut on the "S.S. Mission Accomplished," the situation in Iraq has deteriorated steadily. The occupation of Iraq has resulted in a guerilla insurgency whose roots lay in a renewed Islamic anger toward the United States, creating more and more terrorists by the day. The disturbing pictures out of Abu Ghraib dealt what little moral integrity the war had left a fatal blow. And our military resources are now stretched so thin that we may be unprepared to respond to a crisis elsewhere in the world.
It is amazing really - the hypocritical way this administration has governed the war. As Thomas Friedman put it on October 21st:
"Had Democrats been running this war with the incompetence of Donald Rumsfeld - conservatives would have demanded their heads a year ago - and gotten them."But this administration believes they are above the fray; that they are accountable to no one. Their contempt for dissenting voices is almost maniacal. Those who criticize the management of the war are told by the Vice President of the United States to go "fuck themselves."
And so, I present to you this: President Bush has committed the worst act of treason. He led this great nation into an unnecessary war of choice on the wings of a lie. The cost? Over 1,100 American GIs. Now Mr. Bush is part of the problem. His failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq has undermined his credibility as a "wartime prezdint." He is too unpopular and too polarizing a figure to finish the job. And since the Republican Congress didn't have the cajones to file articles of impeachment based on the bogus reasoning for going to war in the first place, it is up to the voters of America to fire Mr. Bush on Tuesday.
On the domestic front, President Bush has been a complete and miserable failure.
"He (Bush) has spent like a drunken liberal Democrat," Andrew Sullivan said this week in his endorsement of John Kerry. The President's massive tax cuts - along with an out-of-control Republican Congress - have transformed a $5.6 trillion surplus into a $5.2 trillion debt, robbing our children's future paychecks in order to pay Mr. Bush's greed-induced pillage of the U.S. Treasury.
His administration will be the first since Herbert Hoover's to show a net loss in American jobs. (Not even Jimmy Carter could boast of such an accomplishment!) The jobs that remain are mostly low-paying service jobs. The high-paying positions are going overseas. (While I am not against that practice out-right, it doesn't help matters that American corporations receive tax breaks for doing so.)
George Bush's mismanaged Iraqi war has led to the highest gas prices this nation has ever seen. (Again, not even Jimmy Carter could boast of such an accomplishment!) Thus, low-paid American workers are finding it hard to fill up their gas tanks in order to drive themselves to their low-paying jobs.
On social issues, the President is an outright Fascist. His willingness to compromise American freedoms in supposed pursuit of terrorists is completely un-American and reeks up to the heavens. And his proposal to amend the Constitution of the United States to deny millions of Americans equal rights under the law is the most extreme, right-wing, divisive piece of Constitutional graffiti ever proposed.
Mr. Bush has argued that "activist judges" needed to "stop legislating," yet he continues to nominate radical right wing zealots to the federal bench so that they may force his Fascist social agenda down America's throat.
President George W. Bush has proven that he is unable to learn from mistakes. (Hell, he is unable to admit mistakes!) He has shown that he is unable to adapt to changing circumstances; and that, my friends, is a dangerous quality in any president - but especially one that is fighting a war.
A Course Change:
To be sure, I had reservations about John Kerry during the Democratic primaries. The top tier of the party sat out this contest. Joe Biden, Gary Hart, Al Gore, Hillary Clinton, Jane Harman, Bill Richardson, Richard Holbrooke - all took the proverbial powder. And in this particular contest, I thought that the lack of gravitas in the Democratic contests would essentially hand President Bush a second term.
In February I argued that the candidate who would eventually go toe-to-toe with Mr. Bush would need to have a fundamental understanding of international and foreign affairs, namely in the Middle East; someone who would seriously understand that we are in the early stages of a Cold War-like struggle in which the moderates of the Arab-Muslim world would have to be strengthened - and the radical fringe defeated soundly.
During the course of the general election campaign, I have come to trust that Senator John Kerry understands that struggle.
The unwillingness to bend on the part of the Bush administration isn't working. As much as they'd like to think otherwise, the world is not a simple place. Seldom are problems black and white. John Kerry knows this. He understands the gray. He also understands that this struggle against terrorism belongs to every American. It is not a conservative war. It is not a liberal war. And that sort of thinking is very important as we move into these next four years.
In sharp contrast to the current regime, Senator Kerry has the tested qualities of leadership and imagination. The "flip-flopper" label is unfair. In fact, the Democrat represents the essence of true statesmanship; for it is the job of a president to alter political positions and international strategy when he finds he was mistaken.
George W. Bush, for some reason, is unable to do so. For the sake of our great nation and her place in the world, it is absolutely essential that voters remove Mr. Bush from office on Tuesday and replace him with Senator John Kerry.
Who Needs Terrorists?
Heck, we can just fight each other!
Via Soto this is Watergate figure (turned Dem, it seems) John Dean's take on the likely aftermath of a close election. Good Christ, this might be the election that keeps on giving, and giving, and giving....