Two Sides of the Same Coin
The first presidential debate was also my first time hearing John Kerry speak. For all my interest in politics, I’d never actually heard the man, and had drawn all my information about his personal political platform from Kerry quotes published by online newspapers.
After hearing Kerry, I can attest that he’s a very good public speaker. Indeed, his public speaking skills are vastly superior to those of the incumbent. The senator knows exactly what he wants to say and then says it confidently without stumbling over rudimentary grammar. On the other hand, Bush says things like “we’re’ve been effective,” while every other word out of his mouth is “umm.”
To tell the truth, I was more impressed with Kerry in many ways.
Kerry quite reasonably pointed out the incongruence inherent in Bush denying nuclear weapons to Iran, North Korea, and Iraq while spending “hundreds of millions of dollars to research bunker-busting nuclear weapons.” After all, the United States is the only nation on earth which has ever used nuclear weapons in warfare (and on civilians, no less), and yet we insist we’re the only ones who can be trusted with them.
The senator quoted the former President Bush, who said that if we were to take Baghdad “our troops would be occupiers in a bitterly hostile land.” Bush is quick to deny the truth of his father’s statement in the face of plain evidence (1) to the contrary, but Kerry gets at least one thing right by pin-pointing the gross failure of this war.
In unintentional support of the claims of failure and blatant contradiction of himself, Bush further undermined his initial justification for the war by saying that Saddam “had the capability of making weapons and he would have made weapons.” Never mind that in the days leading up to the war he said “we know that [Saddam] has produced thousands of tons of chemical agents” (2) and that such chemicals probably included “500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent.” (3) Talk about flip-flopping!
Occasionally, I even felt like cheering for Kerry. One such time was when he pointed out that “Saddam Hussein didn’t attack us. Osama Bin Laden attacked us.” While by his illogical reasoning the war in Iraq would be justified if Hussein did have WMD but had not attacked us, Kerry is certainly on to something. Although many war-hawks have tried to link al-Qaeda and Hussein, all they’ve managed to do is create ghostly and often fictional ties which Secretary of State Powell denies constitute “smoking gun, concrete evidence.” (4) Bush has wasted a major part of his presidency chasing down the Hussein rabbit trail while allowing the perpetrator of the greatest single modern-day tragedy on American soil to escape scot-free.
Also, Bush said that “the best indication about when we can bring our troops home” is when we “see the [Iraqi military] perform and...the Iraqis step up and take responsibility.” What he (and, incidentally, Kerry) failed to mention is that U.S. trained and funded Iraqi security guards often lack equipment as basic as firearms (5), many of the new Iraqi police are turning against the U.S. troops who trained them (6), and back in April half the troops in the U.S. trained Iraqi Army refused to fight because they’d be fighting their own people (7). With such troops, the likelihood that the Iraqi military will “step up and take responsibility” to protect Iraq anytime soon is slim to non-existent.
One time when I felt like booing John Kerry was when both candidates revealed their globalist attitudes. Suggesting that the U.S. should police humanity, Bush said we have a duty to “rid the world of weapons of mass destruction.” A little later in the debate, Kerry maintained that “it’s the moral responsibility for us and the world” to never allow another genocide such as that in Rwanda.
Ultimately, there wasn’t a huge difference between the two candidates. Both would have invaded Iraq, both believe our nation should police the world, and both affirm pre hoc justice by endorsing preemptive war.
If the only choice for president was between Bush and Kerry, and Kerry was pro-life, I might well vote for the latter. He seems to have a good head on his shoulders, his foreign policy is flawed yet moderately anti-interventionist, and his fiscal plans, while tending slightly more toward largesse than those of Bush, would inevitably be blocked by a GOP-controlled Congress. Bush and Kerry are two sides of the same coin, but Kerry’s the shinier side.
But my choice is not between Bush and Kerry. There is a tertium quid who is anti-war, anti-globalism, and would withdraw the troops from the morass in Iraq upon achieving office. Furthermore, he’s pro-life, opposed to sodomarriage and special rights for sodomites, and favors keeping the governmental wallet close to hand and out of sight.
That third choice is, of course, Michael Peroutka of the Constitution Party.
October 5, 2004
Pieter Friedrich lives in a small town in the California Sierra Foothills. He is an amateur political analyst, a writer, a classical liberal, a juris naturalist, a paleo-conservative, a strict constitutionalist, and, foremost, a Christian. He may be reached for comment here.