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I encourage you to read this New York Times Magazine article first. Full credit to my friend Terrance over at The Republic of T for linking it first. It's long, but well worth the read.

In the Oval Office in December 2002, the president met with a few ranking senators and members of the House, both Republicans and Democrats. In those days, there were high hopes that the United States-sponsored ''road map'' for the Israelis and Palestinians would be a pathway to peace, and the discussion that wintry day was, in part, about countries providing peacekeeping forces in the region. The problem, everyone agreed, was that a number of European countries, like France and Germany, had armies that were not trusted by either the Israelis or Palestinians. One congressman -- the Hungarian-born Tom Lantos, a Democrat from California and the only Holocaust survivor in Congress -- mentioned that the Scandinavian countries were viewed more positively. Lantos went on to describe for the president how the Swedish Army might be an ideal candidate to anchor a small peacekeeping force on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Sweden has a well-trained force of about 25,000. The president looked at him appraisingly, several people in the room recall.

''I don't know why you're talking about Sweden,'' Bush said. ''They're the neutral one. They don't have an army.''

Lantos paused, a little shocked, and offered a gentlemanly reply: ''Mr. President, you may have thought that I said Switzerland. They're the ones that are historically neutral, without an army.'' Then Lantos mentioned, in a gracious aside, that the Swiss do have a tough national guard to protect the country in the event of invasion.

Bush held to his view. ''No, no, it's Sweden that has no army.''

The room went silent, until someone changed the subject.

The information cited in the article gets worse. Furthermore, please, pay close attention to the number of Republicans that are quoted with negative things to say. It's not just partisan politics as usual here, folks. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark, so to speak.

I'm not saying Kerry is a wonderful candidate. I'm not. But, quite simply, he scares me less than the alternative.


Oct. 18th, 2004 10:22 am (UTC)
Well, I take it from the fact that it went this long without replies that I'm the only one who bothered to read it :)

It's an interesting article, K, but it's not without its own biases. In particular, you know that I'm no fan of the religious right; additionally, I'll reveal that I've already decided not to vote for Bush, but I can nevertheless offer you a positive interpretation of the assertions in that article:

Many people perceive Bush to be ethical.

That's a strange notion in politics, but people admire him for it, myself included. The man tells you exactly what he's going to do, and why. He makes decisions based on moral principles and considers those principles more important than political expediency, even when it murders him in the polls. People like me, who disagree with many of the particulars of those moral stands, still recognize it as fundamentally (poor word choice?) honest behavior, and I, for one, am more comfortable with someone I disagree with but feel ethically comfortable with than one I agree with who lacks core convictions.

To flip (poor word choice, again) this over to Kerry, I'd argue that a large number of people do not perceive Kerry in the same way. For myself, again, while I might agree with Kerry's position on abortion, for example, I'm not at all reassured that Kerry agrees with it. On the other hand, I'm very certain where Bush stands, even if I disagree with him. It's possible - and I doubt I'm alone in this - to be attracted to that while politically opposed to much of his worldview.

This issue manifests as the "character debate" from conservatives or as wry observations from liberals that what we'd call in ordinary people stupidity in presidents we call leadership. To paraphrase a friend of mine, Bush wants to be right; Kerry wants to be president.
Oct. 18th, 2004 11:00 am (UTC)
Thank you for reading it.

I agree with you, absolutely, that while it contains some interesting information, it also contains its own biases. Quite correct.

I probably should have clarified in my post that I didn't post the excerpt about Sweden to highlight yet another malapropism by Bush. I posted it because I believe it reflects a fundamental personality trait about him: an inability to acknowledge when he has made a mistake.

That fundamental, relentless doggedness creates problems when driving the boat. I dislike the sense that he's not listening to advisors like Colin Powell, and that he's perfectly willing to steer the ship right into the iceberg rather than admit its time to change course, and that he may have erred in the original mapping. Commitment to an ideal is admirable, but there is a difference between confident commitment and overzealous obsession.

Hey, I'm with the fact that Kerry changes with political winds. Like I say, he ain't a wonderful candidate. But at least he'll be on my side of the issues some of the time, rather than Bush who's against most them all of the time.

BTW, did you see Team America?


Twin Peaks: Snoqualmie

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