Via Andrew Sullivan
: Oh crud. He's going all wobbly.
From the NYT:
But Mr. Bush noted: "The enemy declared war on us. Nobody wants to be the war president. I want to be the peace president. The next four years will be peaceful years." He repeated the words 'peace' or 'peaceful' many times, as he has done increasingly in his recent appearances.
Sullivan thinks this is a tactic to capture more of the female vote, who don't like a "hard-edged" candidate. If so, it's a very, very dangerous strategy to play with.
Of course, my opinions and preferences in the presidential campaign are all hypothetical, since I'm not an American citizen, but...this is the kind of thing that would make me - generally hawkish on foreign policy, generally libertarian on social issues, not at all religious, distrusting of bureaucracy and still just plain angry
about 9/11 - consider staying home on election day. This sounds like a promise that a second Bush administration will undertake no major war.
Then what the bloody hell is the point?
That Republicans seem to be capable of taking foreign policy seriously, and do not think of it primarily as a parlour game for diplomats like Joe Wilson, is the main reason I support them. I have confidence in the Bush administration to prosecute the necessary campaigns of the war on terror; I do not have that same confidence in John Kerry. His rhetoric so far suggests, at best, something of a Clinton-lite style: an obsession with multilateralism and the UN at the cost of effective strategy, but shackled to a rabidly anti-war base that would more likely than not be reluctant to even strike back at a nation responsible for a future 9/11-scale terror attack. That worries me. I've paid somewhat less attention to his domestic policies, because frankly, they don't affect me much. What I have seen only clocks in as a minor tilt to the "You Freaking Loon" side of the scale.
But if Bush is explicitly promising, right now, that a second term would see no willingness to strike back against an attacker such as a suddenly-nuclear Iran or a suddenly-twitchy-on-the-trigger-finger North Korea, let alone expansion of the war to topple any of the remaining regimes of various threatening capacities - then I have little reason to continue my support for the administration.
I'm a fan of tax cuts; I like the starve-the-beast approach to cutting government spending. But spending has increased. I don't pretend to understand economics well, or at all, but isn't continued deficit spending sort of a bad thing? Likewise his promised support (well, admission he wouldn't exercise veto power, actually; it's not as if he directly has anything to do with it until it reaches his desk) for some form of FMA. I understand the need to energize the socon base, but I appreciate such an amendment attempt as a moral declaration that has no hope of winning, rather than something that might plausibly pass the ratification process. But was that support firing up the base to gain support for a second term where it might come up again? Or stem-cell research, or cloning, or any of the other socio-scientific issues that really don't need federal interference. As mentioned, I'm not religious at all, and I do have to admit I find the overtly pious just a wee
bit creepy. But if they're good people, I can ignore that. I believe that being a good person is something that happens independently of having faith, though the two are often present at once in the same person. I can put up with a lot of things in a candidate that might make me mildly uncomfortable, as long as their priorities are straight: Promising to take the fight to the enemy, rather than waiting for them to strike first. If in a second term Bush will be doing his best to pretend that we aren't actually at war
, making the debating of frivolities again seem like a legitimate use of legislative attention, I'll be worrying even more than under a Kerry administration.
I'm reminded of a Churchill quote that had a bit more currency in 2001 and 2002: "Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened." Are we in such a rush to get back to "normalcy," to, as some theorize, to "take a break" from the war?
Are we so blind that the RNC thinks this is a viable strategy to follow now?
The bottom line is that I instinctively support the red-state approach to policy - but largely because, for the past three years, it's seemed profoundly more serious an attitude concerning the realpolitik
of terrorism. Moreover, it seems like a wrong-headed move. Bush has credibility as a war president; if the promise is that there'll be unbreakable peace for four years regardless of who wins, it puts him back to a level playing field with Kerry, losing the incumbent advantage. But, more importantly, if he's claiming that he'll start treating terrorism as an issue of policing rather than war, just like Kerry...well, for the first time I think I can genuinely understand why so many voted for Ross Perot in 1992 and 1996.
(Via Andrew Sullivan