Tuesday, October 19

Voting for Bush?

Inspired by the Guardian's efforts to encourage British citizens to express their opinions on the upcoming presidential election to voters in Clark County, Ohio, I'm going to send the following letter to swing-state bloggers. To my advantage is the fact that I'm not a limey arshole. Globe of Blogs lists blogs by location, thus making possible this type of targeted cyber-intrusion. (Some responses to the Guardian-directed letters were not pretty).
Dear Bush sympathizer or not-yet-fully-committed voter,

For months, I have listened to many reasons given by those who are set on voting for Bush for their positive view of the Bush presidency, and I would like to list what seem to me the most popular. I will also respond, briefly, to each line of thinking and I ask you to respond as you see fit. Do you share some of these pro-Bush views? Would you offer other reasons for supporting Bush that I have not characterized here? Would you dispute my follow-up remarks?

If you are not fully committed to a Bush vote, please read what follows and, if you like, send me comments so that we can have a civil exchange about this important choice before us.

1. You shouldn't change quarterback too often (let the man finish his job in Iraq).

This view, which appears to have more to do with the Washington Redskins quarterback situation than it does U.S. politics, defeats the entire purpose of presidential elections, which is to give a voice to the people so that they can use their judgment either to mark dissatisfaction or establish a mandate for the president-to-be. This is particularly significant in this cycle, as the current president received no clear mandate from the voters four years ago. In my view, we should not let Bush push forward with his "catastrophic success" in Iraq. We should not reward our leadership for creating catastrophes. We should not let Bush and his team continue to distort the reality of the conflict in Iraq by labeling it a "success" and persisting in the hallucination that it has struck a blow against international terrorism or made Americans safer at home. We should not be under the illusion, either, that Kerry will triumph over terrorism, or bring a radical shift in U.S. policy. Still, we should recognize that Kerry would be less likely to pose a serious obstacle to a potential resolution of the Middle East conflict than would Bush.

2. 9/11.

This is sometimes presented simply as a concept whose light is supposed to sit upon Bush's head like a halo and at other times with the unconvincing view that "Bush acted firmly after 9/11." The facts show that Bush did virtually nothing but run and hide on 9/11, that his pre-9/11 anti-terrorist efforts were at best derelict, and that he even resisted a non-partisan investigation into the event and continues, today, to suppress 9/11-related reports. Not good, anyway you size it up. We need leadership that will not fear being compromised by a full, publicly-available investigation into 9/11 and the historical and political factors which led to it. This is a matter of decisive importance for our national security. Kerry does not promise to satisfy the public's need for full disclosure, but a new regime will at least help to air the dirty laundry of the last.

3. Bush is against abortion.

The "partial birth" rhetoric helps Bush here, but by signing the bill that was packaged with this name, Bush will not prevent a single abortion from taking place. If Bush tries, through Supreme Court appointments, to outlaw abortion, he will face a virtual civil war, if not an actual one, since a clear majority of U.S. citizens does not want the government to outlaw abortion. Bush's assault on the Constitution in this area could signal the death-knell of his right-wing stranglehold on the U.S. government and cause damage in a number of other areas that social conservatives hold dear.

4. Bush stands up against homosexuals.

The "constitutional amendment" smoke-screen works in Bush's favor here by obscuring two important facts: i) such an amendment doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of passing ii) Bush's position, aside from this amendment charade, is not different from Kerry's. Both feel marriage should be reserved for other-sex couples. What's more, the claim that, in exploiting homophobia, Bush is "protecting marriage" is complete rubbish.

5. Bush is strong on terror.

Bush's voice raising, macho posturing, and his ridiculing of the U.N. and the International Criminal Court make him look impressive and strong, but Bush's distractive, self-serving take-over of Iraq suggests that he is clueless about even which country to strike, not to mention what kind of strike would best suit the purpose of stemming terror, and how to carry such a strike out. Furthermore, Bush and his studio crew are wildly deceptive in trying to suggest that Kerry's positions on the U.N. and other international bodies are different than his. Both are unilateralists in principle. The only qualitative difference is that Bush is stunningly effective at alienating allies and potential allies, whereas Kerry has shown some concern for maintaining the appearance of diplomacy. These are both awful leaders, in view of their political and military programs, but Bush is far more dangerous for the stability of the world as we know it. Let's not be distracted by the press, who want us to believe that this is a contest between a he-man and a pussy-foot. This is not a contest between personalities. We are not watching a dating game. We are being asked to choose between two corporate militarists who have no solution for peace in the Middle East, and who therefore promise lots of terrorism for us and our children. But, based on his short and horrific record of inflaming hatred across the globe at — yes — America, Bush is far more dangerous than Kerry.

6. Bush is Christian.

Well, guess what, Kerry is, too. The big difference here is that, unlike Kerry, Bush learned from Pat Robertson long ago how to use Christianity cynically for vote-getting (and that is true no matter how sincere the man's faith in Jesus Christ may be). The Frontline portrait of Kerry and Bush, called "The Choice," shows how, early on, Bush and his advisor Karl Rove understood the importance of religious rhetoric for pocketing the Christian vote. More important, on the issues, it is clear that, if either man's policies have to be judged from the perspective of Christian principles, Bush's voracious greed (which has characterized his entire professional and political career) would get him in serious trouble with any self-respecting God (to mention just one of his massive failings, when judged according to the well-known tenets of Christianity). Esther Kaplan and Ron Suskind have researched this question and discuss it here. But, we should be wiser on both scores here, especially since Kerry has been trying his best to catch up on piety. Kerry certainly has been surrounded by advisors who have pushed him to hype up the religious rhetoric, and I am sure that they don't give a damn about Kerry's spiritual make-up. The main point is this: we are not being asked to elect a priest, and we should not let our televisions and hate-radio programs convince us otherwise. This whole issue is one big, fat, cynical distraction. It's like debating whether we think the candidate who wears starched shirts would have more moral fiber than the candidate whose boxer shorts are pressed.

7. Kerry, as depicted by the beautiful people at Fox News, Limbaugh, and other corporate entertainers, is an asshole (Kerry can't make up his mind, follows public opinion slavishly, is a communist, looks French, does his nails, windsurfs, etc.).

Perhaps the Fox News cast, Limbaugh, and the rest of the "disgruntled" crowd are the assholes here. When you consider that their carefully constructed image of Kerry is a fraud, and in fact a very laughable, bungled attempt at fraud, you begin to wonder. The real point here is: are you going to vote your fears (based on the Republican Party slandering of Kerry), or are you going to inform yourself on the issues and determine which candidate's platform would better serve your own interests?