Friday, March 05, 2004

The divide between Bush and his base 

Tara Ross at the American Enterprise has a great story summarizing the many discontents conservatives have with Bush.

Conservatives feel that the President has betrayed small government principles. They are upset about the creation of multiple new bureaucracies and entitlements during his term. They disagreed with the President's (recently repealed) steel tariffs. They are still fuming over the campaign finance bill that gave the government massive new control over free speech of Americans. Most of all, they are furious over the quickly escalating rate of federal discretionary spending....

In some cases, it is only the need to win the War on Terror that causes people to still hesitate at the thought of a President Kerry.

The last part especially sounds right on. It's very similar to Glenn Reynolds' view, for example. We need to think long and hard about why democrats in general are perceived as weak on national security, and why Kerry is no exception. I really do not understand it. Let me count the ways in which John Kerry's war on terror would be vastly superior to George W. Bush's.

1. Kerry is a multilateralist. He would not piss off our allies. He would work with them. Terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism are global problems, and we need the active cooperation of as many countries as possible in order to combat them. Bush seems to think that the countries that supported the Iraq war are the only ones worth cooperating with.

2. Kerry would not get distracted by side wars that obviously have nothing to do with the war on terror. He would not pretend to find links between countries and Al Qaeda in order to justify invading those countries. According to Sens. Graham and Shelby, we had Al Qaeda "on the ropes" in 2002, but it is recovering now that so many of our resources have been diverted to Iraq. Unbelievable.

3. Kerry would reform the intelligence community. The failure to pick up on clues about 9/11, together with the WMD debacle, has made it clear that the CIA and other intelligence agencies are in need of reform. Intelligence reform has actually been one of Kerry's longstanding political goals. Bush has done nothing; he did not even make the token gesture of firing George Tenet.

4. Kerry has an enormous amount of foreign policy experience from his 19-year record in the senate. For the past 16 years, he has served on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Foreign policy is his specialty. Bush had no foreign policy experience whatsoever when he became president in 2000.

5. Kerry would secure our chemical plants from terrorist attack, something Bush has failed to do because his industry cronies don't want to spend the money. There are over 100 chemical facilities where a terrorist attack could put more than one million citizens at risk. And what did Bush do? Caved in to industry pressure.

6. Kerry would not cut funding to first responders, as Bush has done.

7. Kerry would keep our ports safe, an issue the Bush administration has addressed insufficiently at best.

8. Kerry is a veteran. Bush never served in a war.

These are just the points that immediately come to mind. There are surely many more.

UPDATE: Another one:

9. Kerry would not cut funding to the Nunn-Lugar nuclear nonproliferation programs in the former Soviet Union, as Bush has. Kerry would make sure all of Russia's nuclear materials are accounted for within four years.
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