Thursday, September 23, 2004

"I have no idea if Kerry will win and I'm not even sure if I want him to"

Note below Prof. Klinkner's ambivalence about Kerry, an ambivalence I have to say I share. But--and I can't believe I'm actually to the left of Phil on this--I have no ambivalence about voting for the man. I'm voting for Kerry because: a) I'm furious that Bush screwed up a war that was justified and could have been a serious step for transformation of the Middle East; b) I'm still pissed off about the Bush tax cuts and; c) I'm much more confident in the sort of people that Kerry will appoint to the thousands of positions under presidential control. Those are more than enough to get me over all the ambivalence I have about Kerry.

That said, I can't think of ONE quality of the man himself that I admire or respect. There are polls where they match a "Generic Democrat" against other candidates and then ask you how you'd vote. There's no question I'd vote for the Generic Democrat against Kerry. So I ask our readers: can anyone tell me ONE Kerry-specific characteristic to cure me and Klinkner of our ambivalence? Is there anything good about Kerry other than that he's the Democrat on the ticket?


Palooka said...

He can windsurf. Oh, and he served in Vietnam, 'member?

I think you're way off base on being furious with the prez on Iraq. You supported the war, you should be furious with yourself.

The tax cuts? I think they're great, but at least this is a reasonable disagreement.

I think Bush's cabinet is pretty damn competent, and being a judicial conservative above all else, I prefer Bush over Kerry for judicial nominees. Again, traditional conservative-liberal fault lines here. But I'd strongly disagree on cabinet level appointments. Powell vs. Albright. Reno vs. Ashcroft.

Anonymous said...

Re: Ambivalence about Kerry. I well remember Kerry's testimony before the Senate and I knew too many soldiers that were hurt and outraged. They were proud of their effort to prevent Chinese and Russian military aid in spreading the tyranny of communism. Kerry is still a hero to the communists. So if you like the idea of a pompous, self -promoting traitor who is pro-communist and hates America as your president- have at it. As a bonus, he shares in the blood of over a million Vietnamese and Cambodians killed after we abandoned them.. In fact, they are still being killed today. Vietnam is under a very repressive regime. Add to that Kerry's far less than mediocre performance in the Senate. Notice that no one in his campaign talks about his Senate career? He counted on being passed off as a war hero- he was not. But he knew that most Democrats just don't look too deep at their own candidates. You know, the "yellow dog" thing. So, depending on your own character or lack of it, you might think this utterly bottom-of-the-barrel Democrat just great.

Arbitrista (formerly Publius) said...

Well the last two commenters are pretty right-wing, so let me give you a liberal perspective on why Kerry is a good choice. In fact, I think Kerry was the best possible choice of all the Democratic candidates running. Not because he was the most electable, but because of what made him the most electable. He is an experienced, sober, cautious, and principled man motivated by genuine idealism. Just look at his ACTUAL record over the last twenty years. He is knowledgeable about Congress and the issues, and his two principle issues over the course of his career (combatting terrorism, the environment, women's rights) are among the most important ones.

So don't worry. Be happy. Kerry is no Bill Clinton, but then he doesn't need to be.

Anonymous said...

Read Paul O'Neill's book or John DeIulio's famous memo. The one thing we can guarantee about a Kerry presidency is that his "chief political advisor" won't send cabinet members a script before meetings where matters of national policy import are discussed. To put it short, on many policy questions the Bushistas simply have no idea what they are actually doing and could care less. The only criteria for them is political payoff.

Voting against these incompetents is a matter of patriotism, not partisanship.

Moosa Man said...

"So I ask our readers: can anyone tell me ONE Kerry-specific characteristic to cure me and Klinkner of our ambivalence?"

Yes, here is a Kerry-specific characteristic that I admire. Judgment and experience.

He volunteered for service in Vietnam. Like many who went, he discovered that what he was being asked to do "for his country" was wrong and the war was unwinnable. He came home and said a very important thing: It is important to speak the truth to power. And another: "how do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"

I can think of few things that qualify a person for the presidency right now than to have served, and to have spoken out. Iraq is not Vietnam. But it is too close for comfort. I don't know what President Kerry's answer to his important question posed so many years ago will be, and no one should ask a candidate (even the incumbent) to spell out the answer to that question, because we're there and we can't cut and run, and we can't know the viable solution months or years from now from our current vantage point. But it was a mistake, and we have to figure out how to minimize the casualties and the negative consequences. I may not know what Kerry will do, but I know his experience give me confidence that he will make a better judgment than the one who made the mistake in the first place. And better than most or all of the other Democratic candidates whom Kerry defeated.

Kerry's judgment is a character trait about which we should be enthusiastic.

Wretched Pragmatist said...

Please, please, please, does anybody do their homework??? C'mon, you guys are political scientists for petessakes! You know where to find the information... I have found MUCH material in researching John Kerry's Senate record to make me confident in, and proud of, his leadership capacity. In fact, I am beginning to believe that he has the potential to be a much better president than Bill Clinton (at least in terms of policy)...

He has one of the best records on the environment in the Senate with a League of Conservation Voters lifetime rating of 92%. He is a free-trader, but understands what the short-term negative implications are for working families - how about saving social security, Medicare, and portability for healthcare and retirement! And what about that great health plan he has proposed - a win-win for workers AND businesses, without being an unwieldy government program that explodes the deficit and has no cost containment measures?! Mental health parity is tossed in for good measure. How about the proposals to end corporate welfare, crack down on tax loopholes, and restore fiscal discipline in the budget? Pay-go rules? Tobacco buy-out, anyone? Tie energy policy to security policy, rely less on foreign oil and invest more in renewable energy. A competent foreign policy that respects international law and human rights. A domestic security policy that is rights-neutral, practical, and enhances our safety far more per dollar than anything Bush-Ashcroft could ever dream of doing - cargo inspections, Nunn-Lugar dismantlement of Russian nuclear stockpiles, nuclear-plant safety, investment in biotech to protect against chemical-biological terrorism, etc...

If one wants to know anything regarding John Kerry's outstanding record in the Senate, his CONSISTENCY, and evidence of a strong character, at the least one must be referred to the following mandatory reading:

The Washington Monthly article on how Sen. John Kerry just about single-handedly brought about the closing of BCCI Bank, carrying out an investigation against the wishes of many in his own party -

William Saletan of understands his position on Iraq and finds that, contrary to popular belief, John Kerry is NOT a flip-flopper (unlike Dubya!) -,

UC-Berkeley economist Brad DeLong, over at, has raved about Kerry's healthcare proposal.

And did you watch, listen, or read John Kerry's speeches at the National Guard conference, the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention, and most importantly, the one given at NYU, all concerning IRAQ and a confirmation of his position???

Wretched Pragmatist said...

Ooops, sorry, that last post was a divergent rant from the original question.

How about this:

Will Saletan said it best in a piece at, "When presented with evidence that he's wrong, Kerry changes his mind. Bush doesn't—and the latter propensity is more dangerous than the former."

Upstater said...

I find this thread pretty tiring. Where is the so-called critical stance an academic should adopt? Instead of asking your readers to sing Kerry's praises, let's list the man's weaknesses and go from there. Let's see if the conventional wisdom against him holds up?

Judy Woodruff on CNN was quick enough to begin the Republican talking point right after Kerry's convention speech, namely that he had no record in the Senate. Is that what concerns you about Kerry?

Let's take that one swipe at Kerry and examine it. One, has he been lazy in the senate?

He has written and sponsored more laws than Cheney did over the same period. He has taken on some of the toughest and riskiest issues. Iran-Contra, BCCI, the Balanced Budget Amendment, Vietnamese Normalization. Because of his unpopular stands, he became a pariah even in his own party.

So, to answer Woodruff's question, do we want a president who has the guts to stand on principle?

We have to begin this thread by being critical of Kerry first. I'm sure the guy has a few warts. Let me ask all of you: what are they?