Once more, Americans will be forced to vote for a man instead of a policy. It doesn't say much for self-government that the American people are almost never given a chance to vote on major policy issues.
The trouble is that Sen. John Kerry, as his campaign has developed, is saying essentially this: I support the same goals as President Bush, but I can pull them off better than he can.
What about those Americans who don't share President Bush's goals? What about those who don't think we should have a policy of pre-emptive war? What about those who think we should just pull out of Iraq now? What about those who think free trade is a fraud? What about those who think America's borders should be sealed? What about those who believe we should be fair-minded in dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian issue instead of giving Israel a blank check? What about those who believe that outsourcing American jobs should be brought to an abrupt halt?
Well, too bad. You can stay home. Once more, the Democratic Party is proving that it is not really a party of opposition, but rather a tweedledee to the Republican tweedledum. I had some hope and faith in Howard Dean, but unfortunately Kerry has decided to run on the platform "I am not Bush."
That might be OK for fanatic partisans who hate Bush personally and lust to get their hands on all of the presidential patronage. It is, however, a slap in the face to true self-government. The American people are entitled to decide the major policy issues of the day via elections. When both candidates are virtually interchangeable, the people are denied this opportunity, and for all practical purposes, we no longer have a truly democratic country.
In regard to the Iraq War, Kerry has put himself in the position of a prosecutor who says to a murderer, "Well, now that you've already killed this guy, we have no choice but to make sure you get away it." Kerry says the method of going to war and the reasons we went to war were wrong, but since we went to war we have to continue the occupation. To keep jobs in America, he wants to give tax breaks to corporations that already pay far, far less than their fair share of the tax burden.
Kerry says the Europeans will like him better than they do Bush. Well, as often as I have criticized Bush for his blunders, I really don't give a hoot whether the Europeans like our choice of presidents or not. It's none of their business. If we wish to elect a party boy who would no doubt get lost on a guided tour of Europe, that's still our choice to make, not theirs.
I'm disappointed in Kerry. He is making the mistake intellectuals often make. He thinks he can win with laborious explanations of the nuances of differences he has with Bush not over policy, but over the implementation of that policy. Somebody in his campaign had better tell him quick that the American voting population is not into nuances. They want a choice between bourbon and scotch, not a choice between brands of scotch.
At the present, his message is muddled. He seems to be hoping that Bush will defeat himself or be defeated by events. That is a shaky basis for a presidential campaign. God knows he needs a new speechwriter. He has a tendency, like most senators, to drone on and on long past the time his audience's eyes have glazed over. In the meantime, the Bush campaign is spending about 75 percent of its ample funds on attack ads, most of them composed of lies or deliberate distortions.
But politics is not based on truth or on facts. It is based on perceptions. Lies take their toll. It is said that Kerry is a strong closer and a good debater. Maybe so. We'll have to wait and see. Right now, except for the Bush haters, he's not giving us much reason to vote.
June 9, 2004
Charley Reese [send him mail] has been a journalist for 49 years, reporting on everything from sports to politics. From 1969—71, he worked as a campaign staffer for gubernatorial, senatorial and congressional races in several states. He was an editor, assistant to the publisher, and columnist for the Orlando Sentinel from 1971 to 2001. He now writes a syndicated column which is carried on LewRockwell.com. Reese served two years active duty in the U.S. Army as a tank gunner. Write to Charley Reese at P.O. Box 2446, Orlando, FL 32802.
© 2004 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.