Kerry Will Win

Here’s a prediction you can have fun with. It’s one of those either I-told-you-so or my-turn-to-eat-crow kinds of predictions. It is that John Kerry will win the election by a much bigger margin than the polls are now indicating.

What facts do I have on which to base that prediction? Not a one. It’s just a hunch, and hunches are based on reasons and not on facts.

Basically, I believe that the people who dislike George Bush will be more strongly motivated to go to the polls than those people who dislike John Kerry. Except for a minority of Vietnam veterans, most of the people who can be said to dislike Kerry just wish they had another choice. I’m in that group. I’d much prefer Howard Dean, who reminds me of Harry Truman. With Dean, you know without any equivocation what he believes and how he feels. That’s rare in today’s politicians.

But Kerry is the nominee, and stuffiness and wordiness aside, I prefer a man who seriously studies issues and desires a lot of input, even from people who disagree with him. Bush apparently prefers snap decisions and dislikes a lot of input, especially from anyone who disagrees with him. That’s OK when you’re deciding to start this pitcher or that pitcher or even if you’re trying to decide where to drill an oil well. It is definitely not OK if the decision is war or peace.

If you believe the president’s own words, he has not the foggiest idea of what the war on terrorism is all about. His repeated claim that terrorists hate us because we are rich and free is so patently absurd as to be laughable. Osama bin Laden probably has a higher net worth than Bush, if not Dick Cheney, and what the terrorists object to is not us but our foreign policy, part of which is to turn the U.S. armed forces into a corporate oil-protective service.

His belief that you can fight a war and cut taxes at the same time is reckless. The record deficit he has created is a most dangerous situation for the economy. For one thing, it means trillions of dollars of American debt paper are in the hands of the Japanese, the Chinese, the Malaysians and the Koreans. That gives them influence over U.S. policy they should not have.

As for the war in Iraq, it demonstrates that Bush learned nothing from the 20th century. An important part of the 20th century was the attempt by nation-states to devise a system of international law that could replace invasion with negotiations.

It was a long and difficult struggle, but the peaceful ending of the Cold War showed that great progress was being made. Now George Bush has wrecked all that. What is the difference between Adolf Hitler’s invasion of Poland and Bush’s invasion of Iraq? There is no difference. Both were unprovoked attacks in violation of international law. Both were blatant attempts to achieve political objectives by force — in Hitler’s case, the annexation of Poland; in Bush’s case, regime change. Morally, there is not a thread’s difference between the bombing of Warsaw and the bombing of Baghdad.

That’s the single most important thing to learn about the Iraq War. If every other nation adopts the same policy of "pre-emptive" wars, the world will be right back in the jungle that cost the lives of hundreds of millions of people in the last century — by far the bloodiest in human history.

Bush has a dangerous mind-set. He appears to actually believe that he is an agent of God. He said as much. That puts him in the same mind-set as bin Laden. I much prefer the saner notion of a president who believes that the God of the universe has better things to do than manage the day-to-day affairs of the U.S. government. I prefer an emotionally mature person who can admit mistakes as opposed to a self-righteous rooster who gets defensive and resentful when someone disagrees with him.

As you can see, all my reasons for voting for Kerry have more to do with Bush than with Kerry. Bush will get his vote, including the evangelicals who don’t know the difference between the Old and New Testaments. I still have faith that a healthy majority of Americans are smart enough to recognize that the Bush presidency is a mistake that cries out to be corrected. Some very decent people lose their bearings when they gain power, and I think Bush is one of them.

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 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.

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