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Sunday, October 02, 2005

Why I voted for Bush

Bo Peng's post "Our Democracy has Failed" is an important one and hopefully he'll post the additional articles he mentiones at the end of his post.

I do think I should reply to his post here, at least partially.

As someone who voted for Bush in the last election - although this was more due to lack of choices than strong support - my perception of the media is almost a polar opposite. The MSM jumps at every opportunity to bash Bush and the US generally, emphasizes "issues" with its body-count coverage of Iraq, while largely ignoring successes. Editorials are almost universally anti-Bush, and story selection and wording, even in supposedly neutral wire-service stories, frequently show clear anti-Bush bias.

As for the Democrat failure in 2004 to win my vote:

o John Kerry's profound mediocrity. His only skills seemed to be in getting rich women to marry him, and having diarrhea of the mouth. Many took this for erudition because his speeches and answers to questions were so long and convoluted that few understood them - including Kerry himself, I suspect. (As a computer person, I'm well aware of the power of obfuscation and lengthy jargonese as a weapon to both make someone go away and to impress them with your soaring intellect.) Also, I was profoundly unimpressed with his support for the North VN enemy in his visits to Paris in the early 1970s . Maybe a Hollywood type like Jane Fonda could get away with this, but not someone asking for my vote to be Commander in Chief.

o Whatever the casus belli of the Iraq war was - and no, I don't buy the "Bush lied about WMD" argument as it was silly to begin with and not believed by those Bush fans Chirac of France and Schroeder of Germany in addition to the CIA - we were in it and the only exit strategy is victory. Someone so beholden to the antiwar crowd to win a national election would be likely to cut-and-run, particularly given Kerry's personal and political history during the Cold War.

o For whatever reason, even though I'm agnostic, I'm not as allergic to religion as some. Frankly, I do get a sense that many regard active religious belief to be a sign of intellectual deficiency. This, in my opinion, is not a valid position. And I accept that, for anyone who's religious, the framework of their religion will at least partially inform their positions on issues and policy. (It's impossible not to, in the same way that anybody's store of wisdom and knowledge informs their positions on anything.)

I do oppose Bush's position on federal funding of stem-cell research, but this is a fairly minor policy question for me. I don't mind "faith-based initiatives", since religous organizations are frequently better organized to deliver many types of services than the government - as we saw with Katrina.

But my support for Bush was far from passionate, and I would have voted for a Democrat like Joe Lieberman; I actually voted for Lieberman in the CA primary. My objections:

o Bloating out the budget. In my opinion, the Medicare "prescription-drug benefit" is Bush's single worst domestic policy initiative, and needs to die quickly. While I don't buy the argument that Bush "stole the surplus" - the Clinton-era surplus projections were massively flawed as it turned out - I do see the questions around government finance as the biggest issues facing us now. I do agree with Bo that something is fundamentally broken in Washington; the Republicans - and Democrats - in Congress are behaving like a typical political machine with all its attendent corruption. Gerrymandered districts are to blame for part of this, but a big part of this is "rebels" who were to reshape government in the mid 1990s, have become the Institutional Party, lining their pockets with K Street lobbyist cash and shoveling pork at their districts.

o A profound tone-deafness on media relations and "public diplomacy". Due to the left-liberal inclination of most reporters, the MSM is always poorly disposed to Republican presidents. But this doensn't mean it can be ignored. And some actions were truly stupid from this perspective, such as the abrupt tossing out of Kyoto, instead of doing what Clinton did: mouth sweet nothings to the environmental types who regard it as a Sign that You Care while pointing out that it'd never pass the Senate (which voted 97-0 against it in a nonbinding vote in 1998). In particular, the Kyoto action killed Bush internationally, long before Iraq.

Now, if you've read this far, a final major point is that the weakness of the Dems isn't that they or the media isn't getting the dirt out on Bush. They are, but the fervent wish that The Latest Dirt will erupt into the next Nixon Watergate Moment will never be granted.

Why?

Because too much of the country doesn't trust the Democrats to lead. Until they kick out the Michael Moore's, the Hollywood airheads, the wierdos, and the race-baiters, they'll simply be too strange to be credible with "red" America. And it would help if they had philosophies about the world other than "let's work with the UN and maybe the bad guys will go away". Some domestic policies other than tax increases, protectionism, and tossing money at the pet causes of civil-service unions would help too.

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