Sunday, October 17, 2004
Editorial: Sen. John Kerry for president
Voters presented with a clear choice for president this year should halt the nation's downward slide and oust George W. Bush.
From the RoundTable blog
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Or return to a United States that follows its own people's narrative of its history: a country made stronger by steadily expanding individual liberties to the oppressed. A country whose leaders submit to the rule of law and make war as a last resort only, never as a reckless gamble. A country of vast power that other free nations envy, perhaps, but do not fear.
President George W. Bush has failed that iconic America and the somewhat flawed real thing. In four years, he has damaged the United States at home and abroad. He does not deserve re-election; he has richly earned defeat.
We believe Democrat John Kerry can do better.
Days after Sept. 11, 2001, Bush stood at the smoldering ruins of the twin towers and, merely by virtue of being the president of the United States at that moment, embodied the grief, anger and resolve of America and most of the world.
They were with him when he rightly ordered the invasion of Afghanistan, refuge of the masterminds of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Then Bush squandered his nation's unity and the world's good will.
He pursued an arrogant foreign policy with single-minded determination to turn 9/11 into an opportunity to invade oil-rich Iraq. That decision defined the administration and revealed it as manifestly incompetent, from its hyped interpretation of prewar intelligence to its na•ve confidence in a quick, stable peace in the end.
Iraq, it turns out, was not a terrorist threat. But it is now.
The Bush domestic agenda has been equally reckless and shortsighted.
Soon after 9/11, the president told Americans eager to sacrifice for their country that they should go shopping. And he spent his political capital on the wealthy, for huge tax cuts.
In four years, he turned a substantial budget surplus into a deficit of $450 billion - and counting - and now warns ordinary Americans that the bedrock of their financial security, Social Security and Medicare, costs too much and must be "reformed."
Under Bush, the number of America's uninsured has gone up, the poverty rate has gone up, median household income and the number of jobs have gone down.
The economic erosion has been matched by an even more alarming erosion of individual liberties under the post-9/11 Patriot Act, passed by Congress at the behest of an administration that draws ever more power to itself.
It shows a penchant for secrecy - recall Vice President Dick Cheney's energy policy group and the president's efforts to thwart the 9/11 Commission - that disdains the public accountability essential to working democracies.
John Kerry, unfortunately, has no more credible solution than Bush to the morass in Iraq. But Kerry did not make the mess, and can be expected not to launch easily into another. He is a man of demonstrated courage and intelligence, with an extensive background in foreign affairs.
On the domestic front, Kerry recognizes a health care crisis that hurts household budgets and the U.S. economy, and does offer a credible, if incremental, plan to ease it.
And his commitment to principles of freedom and justice will draw to his administration a strong corps of advisers schooled in real-world geopolitics, unlike Bush's clique of blinkered neocons.
After four ruinous Bush years, John Kerry is clearly the right choice on Nov. 2. We heartily recommend him to voters.