April 19, 2004

None of the Above

I watched John Kerry for a few minutes on Tim Russertís Meet the Press and all I could do was sigh. Why did the Democrats have to pick this guy? No one really likes him much whatever they think of George W. Bush.

I donít like John Kerry, but I donít hate the man either. I'm one of the very few people who feels exactly the same way about President Bush.

I agree with Roger L. Simon about almost everything, and I agree with Andrew Sullivan slightly more often than not. Today is no exception.

Roger said ďI am not in a panic over the election the way some are.Ē The same goes for me for mostly the same reason. He quotes from a piece in the LA Times by Moisťs NaŪm, editor in chief of Foreign Policy magazine, about how history makes a president more than the other way around.

All recent U.S. presidents have learned that despite their immense power, they remain at the mercy of uncontrollable global forces, which can render their personal views and campaign promises largely irrelevant. The Clinton campaign's famous dictum, "It's the economy, stupid," proved a better election-year slogan than a predictor of how often international turmoil would distract his administration from domestic issues. Bush reneged nearly as quickly on his campaign promise to adopt a "humble" foreign policy, wary of active foreign engagements and nation-building efforts.
Thatís basically right. George Bush has certainly done a 180 on foreign policy since the election. He started out as a paleoconservative Buchananite and morphed into an aggressive Wilsonian hawk. He began as a shrugging isolationiast and ended up in the same place I was led to by Bosnia.

Andrew Sullivan is likewise soft in his opposition to Kerry.

Here he is in an interview with Timothy Perry.

I'm encouraged by some of the things Kerry has been saying recentlyÖIn general I trust Bush more than Kerry in this war - far more. But I'm open to persuasion and don't think of myself as blindly in support of a person. If another person can better achieve our goals, the beauty of a democracy, unlike a dictatorship, is that we can change leaders quite easily.
Iíd like to warm up to Kerry if for no other reason than that he might be our next president. If I donít vote for him and he wins anyway, Iím not going to be one of those people who are sure to freak out and say itís the end of us. In fact, Iíll swing around to being one of his defenders by default. I learned something by starting out as a Bush-hater and later deciding I was wasting both my energy and my time. Kerry may govern well, or at least passably. Clinton wasnít half as bad as his worst detractors said he was, and neither is Bush. Kerry probably wouldnít be either.

Still, I find myself more or less back to where I was during the last election when I voted for Ralph Nader. I was a paleoliberal then who was mad at the neolibs in the Democratic Party. Now Iím a neoliberal centrist annoyed with the paleos. I guess Iím just hard to please.

I donít care for Ralph Nader as much as I used to (to say the least), but thereís one thing I really do (still) like about him. He wants an option on the ballot for ďNone of the Above.Ē I know itís not likely to ever happen, at least not at the presidential level. But I like the fact that he brings it up anyway. I want to call do-overs. Iíd like to see a Republican like John McCain run against a Democrat like Harold Ford. I would remain a centrist if we could have such a contest, but a happy one.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at April 19, 2004 12:22 AM
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