Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Another conservative sickened by this Administration's policies ed, Issue 8

Rather than a single apocalyptic shove in Fallujah and Najaf (both in Slate), it seems that we're bringing them to a slow boil according to MSNBC.

Meanwhile, Kevin Drum discusses a conversation with a conservative friend that echoes a lot of conversations that the oldman has had recently.

I had lunch today with a longtime friend. He's a Bush supporter and strongly favored invading Iraq.

At least he used to. Today, though, before I could even get a few words out of my mouth, he started shaking his head. There's nothing more we can do in Iraq, he said. Bush's planning was hopelessly bungled. It's a complete mess.


The problem with this? Well just like my friends, he won't turn to Kerry to vote. So he might not vote at all or vote for a third party. Given the electoral college setup, the Republican lockdown on the South, and the soft numbers for Kerry this virtually ensures barring a major shift a victory for Bush in November.

The title could be "disgusted with Bush, but dislikes Kerry" on any number of conversations I've had recently.

This positioning is reflected fairly well in the polls as reported by Dan Drezner quite well. Mickey Kaus in Slate has mentioned it as well.

First of all, the election is still many months away. Second of all, we all know Kerry is a finisher. He certainly finished off Dean my preferred Democratic candidate.

However, what we can say is that the general public does not yet view Kerry as a viable alternative to Bush. This is a perception issue and can be changed, however as Buehner notes convincingly on a post that Kerry has a far left flank he has to worry about - Nadar.

Right now Kerry is campaigning about the loss of manufacturing jobs. I'm not saying he should ignore the economy, but I think his campaign is wrong in order to feel it can lay back and let Bush dominate the headlines. If you will remember, it took weeks and weeks of concerted pressure, multiple attacks, focusing press scrutiny on the tiniest verbal errors, and various self-inflicted gaffes in order to weaken Dean sufficiently so that his momentum was stalled and Kerry and Edwards could step in to take over. In a matchup with Bush, Kerry won't have the benefit of several other candidates focusing fire on Bush. He's got to stand up and show that Bush can't just push him around or say anything he wants about him - through proxies of course.

Without a stronger plan on Iraq than simply "talking with foreign countries", he's going to be percieved as a weak leader. Let's face it, while Americans appreciate and like the support of other countries they expect their President to be able to act independently. There are historically good reasons for this expectation. I mean who exactly was backing us up in WWII? Korea? Cuba? Vietnam? Win or lose, we had to basically single-handedly carry that fight almost entirely by ourselves in each case. Yes the Brit's held out against Hitler, and the Soviets bogged down the German army in their Eurasian land-war and Russian winter scenario but it was the United States that toppled Hitler and defeated Japan.

The "go it alone" attitude is a direct extension of several generations living with the simple reality that the United States must be able to carry out and finish off its overseas military commitments by itself with only minimal assistance from allies. This explains why Bush has been so successful in snubbing other nations. The people of the USA don't want a rude President, but they expect one who is able to operate independently of the approbation of other countries.


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