Wednesday, October 13, 2004


By Jack Random

Like a gunslinger with a pistol full of blanks, the president took the stage for the last debate with all of the swagger but none of the ammunition.

There is one critical problem with the president’s proposals on health care, education, deficit spending, unemployment, bipartisanship, immigration, job exportation, the price of gas and living wages: he is the president. He has had four years to implement his policies and he has spent it all playing the same tired tune: tax relief favoring the ultra-wealthy elite. He has spent it all distracted by an unnecessary, counter productive and illegal war.

George W. Bush has plundered the treasury yet asks us to believe his opponent is a reckless spender. He has lost more jobs than any president since the Great Depression yet asks us to believe his opponent is clueless. He broke his promise to fund his education initiative, Every Other Child Left Behind, yet asks us to believe that his opponent lacks integrity. He has done more to divide the nation than any president since Richard Nixon yet he promised to be a “uniter, not a divider.”

Herbert Hoover, for all his foibles, confronted economic circumstance well beyond his control. Richard Nixon, for all his duplicity, deceit and darker motives, inherited a war not of his making. George W. Bush used a terrorist attack to implement a policy of first strike and global dominance. He chose a war completely unrelated to the crime. He chose an economic policy that promoted tax cuts as the solution to every problem. He is the creator of his own failures and he bears responsibility for his legacy.

Four years into his administration, the president still blames Bill Clinton for a feckless economy. Three years after 911 he still blames terrorists for joblessness. The fact is the president is very good at finding excuses but very bad at changing course.

Once again, the Senator from Massachusetts rose to the challenge. If he looks like a president, walks like a president and talks like a president, the chances are he is a president. He has stood to every attack, every slander, and every twisted distortion of his record. He has cast aside every demeaning label and held his ground: a mountain against an anthill. To the president’s platitudes and denigrations, the Senator has answered with reasoned statesmanship.

To the empty charge of Liberalism: It is ironic that the great disappointment of the true left is that John Kerry, like Bill Clinton before him, is at best middle of the road. This candidate is not the fiercely antiwar and social liberal of ten or twenty years ago. Many of us lament the Senator’s evolution but we cannot challenge his integrity on this ground. The transformation has been gradual and measured. He is what he says he is: a man whose beliefs mirror those of most Americans: Pro choice, pro middle class, neither pro nor anti war, strong on defense, sensible on economics, pro environment, pro health care and pro education.

For all this measured moderation, Kerry strikes a distinct contrast with the tough-talking incumbent. Who is this little big man (suddenly magnified by a curious director’s choice) with his finger in the dike as it swells with looming catastrophe, pretending that everything is fine, pretending that the worst crisis this nation faces is the prospect of a liberal president? He reaches out to the Christian conservative right and lets go of the middle ground.

This nation is not facing a crisis in traditional marriage. We are not facing crises of over-taxation, abortion or prayer. We are facing crises in education, health care, jobs and runaway deficits. We are not facing a crisis of liberal ideology; we are facing a crisis in credibility and confidence. We are facing a war that never should have happened.

George W. Bush is the president. He is the captain of a sinking ship, the general of a disastrous battle, and the shadow of a true leader. Neither commander nor statesman, he is a pretender to the throne.

We have seen the president stripped of his castle walls, standing naked and alone, without his counselors and advisers, with nothing more than his mother wit, and we have found him lacking.

By a 5-4 vote of the Supreme Court, he was given a chance that few politicians are ever afforded. He has squandered that opportunity. If ever a man did not deserve a second chance, it is the man who did not deserve the first.

Are we better off than we were four years ago? Let every man and woman who can honestly answer “yes” vote for the incumbent president. Let the rest of us elect a new president. If these debates are a reflection of the election to come, Kerry wins in a landslide.


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