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Sizing up the candidate

Observer Viewpoint | Sunday, September 12, 2004

The title to Tom Rippinger’s Sept. 8 column tells us that voting for Bush is the hard road which we should nevertheless take for the good of the country. Upon reading Rippinger’s reasons for this conclusion, however, we find that the choice for Bush is easy indeed. Easy because, we discover, Bush is not running against John Kerry and the Democrats at all, but against Michael Moore and the Soviet Marxists. Or, at least, it amounts to the same thing. In Rippinger’s world, this election is not a choice between two different kinds of American capitalism, or two different kinds of national security, but rather between freedom and totalitarianism, tough self-defense and unconditional surrender.

When Rippinger does seem to refer to Senator Kerry, his characterization still doesn’t resemble much the man nominated to run against President Bush. This straw-Kerry would, Rippinger has discovered, not fight against terrorism, but instead, apologize and back down, presumably to Al Qaeda. In addition, this scarecrow-like Kerry is proposing to outsource our security to the international community, despite the fact that the real John Kerry’s record in the senate and his explicit statements in this campaign offer nothing to support this outrageous claim.

If the GOP convention is any indication, many Republicans must believe that to qualify as worthy to defend America, a leader must be in favor of every military adventure, no matter how quixotic, and every defense spending proposal no matter how inefficient. Apparently a good commander-in-chief must forget that defense budget dollars and soldiers’ lives are precious and limited. That seems to be the standard Sen. Kerry is held to when he is criticized for his votes against some military programs in the ’80s, in the face of soaring deficits, and in the early ’90s at the end of the Cold War. In the latter case, the B-2 bomber which Kerry voted against was also opposed by the first President Bush, who also in 1992 promised to cut defense spending by 30 percent, with the help of Defense Secretary Dick Cheney.

John Kerry never was a political rock star like John McCain or Bill Clinton, he really has an aloof air about him, and many parts of his voting record are indeed liberal. But under the watch of Bush and a Republican Congress, Americans have seen 1,000 deaths in Iraq, the alienation of powerful allies abroad, and poor economic performance despite federal spending, tax cuts and low interest rates on full tilt for three and a half years. Hence it is no real surprise that Bush and the Republicans are eager to run against just about anyone but the real John Kerry.

Jeremiah John

doctoral candidate

department of political science

Sept. 8