October 05, 2004

John Kerry is No Tony Blair

Joe Katzman, in a roundabout sort of way, argues with my "hawkish case for John Kerry" approach. He makes good points, as always. In a nutshell: John Kerry is no Tony Blair.

Is he right? To an extent, absolutely. But ultimately, I don't know. We have to guess at what a John Kerry foreign policy would actually look like. His campaign has been all over the place, so it isn't a good predictor. His record is a poor predictor, too. Presidents can't act like senators. They are leaders. They can't just say yay or nay to someone else's proposals.

And let's be honest. We have to guess at what a second round of George W. Bush's foreign policy would look like, too. Will Bush fix Iraq? I wish I knew. I wish I knew a lot of things that I don't actually know.

If I had a crystal ball and could take a good hard look at two alternate futures I would know without a doubt which of our two candidates I would vote for.

Today I'm leaning 51 percent Bush and 49 percent Kerry. When I wrote my hawkish endorsement for Kerry I was leaning slightly his way. Now that I've written my "liberal case for Bush" (forthcoming at Tech Central Station.) I'm leaning a bit toward Bush again. Partly this is because I found my own endorsement for Bush slightly more persuasive than my own endorsement for Kerry. But it's also, in part, because of what Joe Katzman says at Winds of Change.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at October 5, 2004 12:46 PM
Comments

In a nutshell: John Kerry is no Tony Blair.

Well, duh. Blair is a socialist.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at October 5, 2004 12:56 PM

DPU,

Not really. He's a "third way" guy like Bill Clinton.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 5, 2004 12:58 PM

Um, no. He's a socialist. Even Katzman says so.

What about him leads you to believe that the leader of the British Labour Party isn't a socialist?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at October 5, 2004 01:00 PM

DPU,

He kicked the socialists in the teeth. That's what "New Labour" means. It is all about making the Labour Party a modern center-left party instead of a political machine for unions and unreconstructed leftists.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 5, 2004 01:06 PM

He's certainly to the right of socialists like SWP but I would put him definitively to the left of "New Democrats" like Clinton.

Posted by: Epitome at October 5, 2004 01:08 PM
From clause IV from the Labour Party constitution:
The Labour Party is a democratic socialist party. It believes that by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone, so as to create for each one of us the means to realise our true potential and for all of us a community in which power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the many not the few, where the rights we enjoy reflect the duties we owe, and where we live together, freely, in a spirit of solidarity, tolerance and respect.
In addition, the Labour Party is a member of the Socialist International and the Party of European Socialists. Posted by: double-plus-ungood at October 5, 2004 01:09 PM

He kicked the socialists in the teeth.

No, he kicked the far left members of his party (aka "Marxists") in the teeth. He's still so far to the left of the Democratic Party that if he wasn't an ally in Iraq, he'd be getting slammed as a communist by most of the readers of your blog.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at October 5, 2004 01:12 PM

Michael, having a crystal ball and seeing into the future would be something everyone of us would love to have. If that were available every one would know exactly what the right decision next month should be and that person would win by an astronomical number of votes. I feel your frustrating with this election. I have had many moments of frustration.

I was not a big Bush fan by any stretch of imagination 4 years ago. I have always voted for the man and not the party. it makes voting a tough job. But, it gives us rewards by knowing that we cast a vote that we have struggled with and made what we feel is the best decision for our country.

My mind has been made up for many months now and still I want reassurance that he is the right choice. People casts votes all the time for the wrong reasons. I have a sister that votes for whoever her husband tells her to vote for. She puts nothing into her vote and still someone gains from it. Her husband legally gets to cast two votes. She could tell you nothing about either candidate but she absolutely knows who she is voting for. I have a feeling that many other votes are cast based on the same type theory.

I mentioned to a co-worker the other day that I was a Bush supporter and her reply was "Well, I'm not, I wouldn't vote for him if he was the last man in the world." I said to her "So, your voting for Kerry?" Her reply "Who's Kerry!" Granted, she was young (mid 20s) but she is casting a vote for someone whose name she didn't even know.

Atleast most of us here try to gain facts and sort through them, but, there are many people who we need to reach, who need to understand how important it is to become knowledgeable. How do we do that Michael?

Posted by: Cathy at October 5, 2004 01:29 PM

Cathy: At least most of us here try to gain facts and sort through them, but, there are many people who we need to reach, who need to understand how important it is to become knowledgeable. How do we do that Michael?

You can't reach everybody. Your co-worker who is voting for Kerry but who doesn't even know Kerry's name is unreachable. There will always be people like this. And people like this exist on both sides. I figure they cancel each other out.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 5, 2004 01:33 PM

This part bears repeating:

"Rewarding the Democrats for this hostile behaviour won't make them change - it will just cement the behviour's practitioners into positions of greater influence, now that their efforts have been shown to be effective. Imagine Kos, MoveOn, Moore, et. al. as the exciting new heroes of the Democratic Party's activist base for helping to bring it to power, then look me in the eye and tell me that the result will be long-term sanity."

Posted by: Cara Remal at October 5, 2004 01:49 PM

I know Tony Blair.

Tony Blair is a friend of mine.

You, Mr. Kerry, are no Tony Blair.

/Channeling Lloyd Bentsen.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at October 5, 2004 01:50 PM

I asked a friend of mine after last week's debates who she was voting for and she said Bush. I asked why, because I'm always curoius as to why people vote for someone, and the following conversation ensued:

Her: "Because that's who my parents are voting for, and if he's good enough for them, he's good enough for me."

Me: "Don't you think you might have different views than them?"

Her: "Of course!"

Me: "So, shouldn't you look into what President Bush says before you decide?"

Her: "If my dad says he's a good guy, he's a good guy."

Me: "Sure he's a good guy. I'm sure he loves his family and God and all that, but what does he think about gay people, spending, healthcare, the war on terror?"

Her: "He's for the war on terror, and so am I."

Me: "So is everyone else in this country. But some people think he's going about it the wrong way."

Her: "He's the president. We should support him."

At that point, I gave up and changed the subject.

Posted by: Greg at October 5, 2004 01:52 PM

Of course Kerry is no Tony Blair. Kerry's French is much more fluent and polished.

Posted by: Zacek at October 5, 2004 02:02 PM

I'm tempted to vote for Bush just so that he has to lie in the bed he made for all of us. I know, I know, Iraq is going swimmingly, the economy is picking up, and the deficit will be cut in half in five years. If you buy that you probably only ventured into political conversation hoping to convert someone to your born-again brand of Republicanism.
What if we are still in Iraq in four years spending at the rate that we are now and paying top dollar for oil? Soldiers are still dying, recruiting is rock bottom and the military is out of volunteers. Do we draft or cut and run? I want Bush to have to make that decision.
Lets assume a rosier scenario: We keep social security and our other nondiscretionary spending obligations. The economy is booming, all engines are go, defying all expectations. Well, too bad. Now that Bushies tax cuts are permanent, we havent a prayer of reducing the ballooning deficit - In fact, Bush would be forced to raise taxes like his father or tell senior citizens that the government is keeping their retirement money.
I was a moderate Republican in 2000 who voted for Bush and expected him to enact a little fiscal discipline. Now we're on the verge of another post-Vietnam style fiasco with economic stagnation, rampant inflation, and humiliation in the face of a lost war and broken social promises. That is Bush's fault and I want him to be in the hot seat to answer for it.

Posted by: Jon Vogeler at October 5, 2004 03:27 PM

We have to guess at what a John Kerry foreign policy would actually look like. . . .

And let's be honest. We have to guess at what a second round of George W. Bush's foreign policy would look like, too.

Well, yes, as far as those statements go, but we have far more reason to feel confident that our predictions of what the President's foreign policy would look like are reasonably accurate, since we've experienced more than three years of his foreign policy. It seems unlikely to me that he would abandon his commitment to protecting our country. Zell Miller said, "George W. Bush is the same man on Sunday morning as he was on Saturday night." I can't imagine anybody saying that about John Kerry. As you note, his statements during the campaign have been all over the place, although, coupled with his voting record in the Senate, particularly on appropriations for new weaponry, I find them clear and convincing evidence of an unwillingness to defend our country. The sheer lack of consistency in his statements is, in any case, quite unnerving to me.

I can understand not liking the President's foreign policy. I disagree, however, that his actions in a second term are less predictable than those of Senator Kerry would be in the event he is elected.

Posted by: Silicon Valley Jim at October 5, 2004 04:09 PM

His record is a poor predictor...

No, it's not.

John Kerry has consistently accomodated America's enemies, working to settle disputes in their favor, and ruling out the use of force. From Vietnam to Central America, the Communists know they can count on John Kerry to keep the pressure off them. This goes for his entire tenure in the Senate. Kerry actually shows leadership when it's time to shut down the contras or kill the Vietnam Human Rights Act.

What goes for the Commies will go for the Islamists as well. Kerry seriously proposed giving nuclear fuel to Iran, fer chrissakes. If you're ready for a reprise of the Clinton/Carter NK nuke debacle, only with jihadists, vote for Kerry.

There is nothing in Kerry's MO, absolutely nothing, to support the idea he would stand up to Iran or North Korea, or the dead-enders in Iraq for that matter. Kerry simply will not fight, and Kim, Zarqawi, Chirac et al know it; or would figure it out in five minutes.

If Kerry ever suggested otherwise, it's because he had some vague idea what you wanted to hear.

Posted by: dipnut at October 5, 2004 04:24 PM

Just to be clear, I don't put Chirac in the same category as Kim and Zarqawi, except insofar as Chirac would have Kerry for lunch.

Hoo boy, would he.

Posted by: dipnut at October 5, 2004 04:30 PM

Am I happy to live in a country (Netherlands) where I do not have to penetrate the mind of two candidates but have a choice between up to ten political parties, which are all presented in Parliament and to a high degree very predictable.
When Bush was elected in 2000 I was afraid he would be an isolationist. I remembered Clinton took action at the Balkan, where Europe shamefully was unable to end the bloody wars. I thought Bush would probably have done nothing.
Bush turned out not to be isolationistic. I was happy with the initiatives of Bush with respect to Afghanistan and Iraq. I want the Islamic autocracies to democratize now, because I am very afraid of atomic and biological weapons in the hands of dictators or fundamentalists.
Bush is not a good occupier of Iraq. I wish we hear more of Paul Bremer, who was embassador in my country; I learned to respect him a lot.
Iraq is not lost. But the US and allies are now really challenged.
Michael, I have a question. You now value Bush 51% versus Kerry 49%.
How would you value Bush 2000 versus Kerry 2004?
I think I know the answer.
Bush foreign policy in general has surpassed yours and my expectations but at this moment he is in a dead end and I really give Kerry more credit to end this deadlock. You must vote for Kerry.

Posted by: Adri Overgaauw at October 5, 2004 04:31 PM

<i<And let's be honest. We have to guess at what a second round of George W. Bush's foreign policy would look like, too.

Yeah, we'd be guessing for sure. If only Bush had a record, some kind of record, on which we could judge him. Like let's say he had rushed to invade a country without a plan to secure the peace, and, like, I dunno totally failed to plan for obvious contingencies. If only he had done something like that, we'd have a CLUE.

Posted by: kc at October 5, 2004 05:09 PM

Now that I've written my "liberal case for Bush"

Here's my liberal case for Bush: He spends like a drunken sailor on shore leave.

Posted by: kc at October 5, 2004 05:10 PM

You cannot predict what a candidate for President will do because you cannot predict what situations and choices he will be faced with.

Who predicted the fall of the Shah of Iran and the taking of hostages?
Who predicted the abrupt fall of the Soviet Union?
Who predicted that Saddam would invade Kuwait?
Who predicted that Clinton would be presented with and sign the NAFTA and Welfare Reform legislation?
Who predicted 9/11? (no, you can't say Richard Clarke)

Pick the candidate who shares your philosophy and who you judge most capable to lead. You can judge these things by the candidate's position on the issues and their relevant history/resume. Picking based on a particular stand on a particular issue may seem objective and informed but it more likely would lead to a false choice.

Remember Bush's admonition that he would move the country away from the nation building track that Clinton had embarked on? I do.

Posted by: too many steves at October 5, 2004 05:25 PM

Adri: How would you value Bush 2000 versus Kerry 2004? I think I know the answer.

That's a great question. Kerry wins that one hands down. And because Bush changed so much in office, against the grain of my expectations, I am perhaps more likely than most hawks to give Kerry some slack. I thought I knew exactly what to expect from Bush, and boy was I wrong. I could easily be wrong again if I concur with what Dipnut said above.

But I do understand where Dipnut is coming from, so I'm not willing to dismiss what he says. He could very well be right.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 5, 2004 05:32 PM

You never know for sure what to expect. FDR was largely dismissed by the elite of the day as an amiable callow lightweight. But sometimes you get a feeling about someone. John Kerry has been around for a long long time. He has a long long record and it is not just a voting record. It is a record of vitriolic opposition to the assertion of American strength and power and a world view colored by the Vietnam experience. This is tempered by the willingness to buck the tide of his natural inclination for the purpose of electoral expediency. A most terrible combination. Not one I would be willing to throw over a strong commander in chief for.

Posted by: Doug at October 5, 2004 06:06 PM

Who predicted the fall of the Shah of Iran and the taking of hostages?
Who predicted the abrupt fall of the Soviet Union?
Who predicted that Saddam would invade Kuwait?

Nitpick: Actually, all those things were predicted. We all knew that the Shah was going down, it didn't happen overnight. When his army started throwing down their guns and joining the mobs, the writing was on the wall. The fall of the Soviet Union had been predicted for years, as their economy was in awful shape, and they couldn't keep up the arms race. This was all noted in CIA intelligence briefs years before the actual collapse. And Hussein discussed the invasion of Kuwait with ambassador Glaspie prior to sending troops over the border, so it shouldn't have been hard to predict.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at October 6, 2004 08:13 AM

Dipnut said, Kerry seriously proposed giving nuclear fuel to Iran, fer chrissakes

(Couldn't you pick a better name? It bothers me a little for G**gle to record me discussing politics with somebody named Dipnut.)

Anyway, don't worry about that proposal. Iran indignantly rejected it. See, what Kerry proposed was "Don't you bother your little heads about purifying your own fuel. We'll give you the fuel and then we'll take it back after it gets dirty. You won't be able to make bombs or really have your own nuclear program, you can just depend on us. We won't ever shut off your supply just because we get peeved with you, promise!". And the iranians reasonably enough didn't trust him.

There is nothing in Kerry's MO, absolutely nothing, to support the idea he would stand up to Iran or North Korea,

What do you expect Bush to do to stand up to NK? What has he done to stand up to NK so far?

If -- as I expect -- iran gets nukes quicker than we predict, what do you think Bush would do to stand up to iran?

Posted by: J Thomas at October 6, 2004 09:19 PM
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