Thursday, November 11, 2004

Kerry and the Democrats, the Critical Aftermath

Liberals, who lost spectacularly in the recent elections, are being consoled -- by liberals.

The results are what might be expected. There is no need to abandon, or even examine, the prejudices that led us to dusty defeat, they say, but some minor technical adjustments may be in order.

Stick with your core beliefs, advises Keith Burris, Editorial Page Editor of the Journal Inquirer, but finesse your approach.

What Democrats need is to rediscover and reaffirm the old values, which are as solid as the earth itself. They simply need to get back to Jefferson, Jackson and Roosevelt. They do need to be the party that will make national health insurance happen. They do need to be intellectually honest. For example: No, we cannot balance the budget and universalize health insurance at the same time. That does not compute. But we want to get national health care first. Or, Yes, the war was a mistake. A terrible one. Let's talk about how we undo and correct it. They do need to be aggressive. For example: How dare you call us tax and spend liberals when you are bankrupting the country. Or. How dare you malign any soldier's service to his country. Especially heroic service in a brutal and unpopular war.

As Tom Jefferson might have said: Pause for a moment, take a breath -- think.

National health insurance has not been a success anywhere, not even in Canada where pills made in the USA are sold at a discount to citizens of Canada and the United States.

Why are those pills not made in Canada? Why is it that the research and development needed to bring new medicines to market occurs here in the United States rather than in Canada? Why is it that the citizens of countries that have implemented national health care plans must wait an intolerably long time for serious operations? What accounts for the movement of doctors from Canada to the United States? Is it the climate, or are medical professionals voting, so to speak, with their feet against national health insurance?

It is not clear, and will not be for some time, that the war in Iraq -- however unpopular it may be with liberals who admire Roosevelt but fail to mention that his pro-war policy was hotly contested by an aggressive peace movement of his day -- is a failure.

It may happen that terrorists in Iraq and elsewhere will eventually bear away democracy in their teeth. If so, this will not be the first time that this nation has sent out its young men to defend an honorable lost cause. Jefferson, Jackson and Roosevelt were war presidents.

All wars are unpopular, even among people who prosecute them. If the enemy is militant Islam, something must be done to defeat it -- militarily. The presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq which, at this moment, is still in question (There are some indications that the WMD's were spirited out of Iraq prior to the arrival of U.S. troops by the Russians and deposited in Syria) is a distraction from a larger and more important issue. At some point, some nation will have to insert itself in the Arabian crescent and make war on militant terrorists who, somewhat like landlocked pirates, are not attached formally to any country. If not now, when and by whom? The French? The Germans? The Euroites?

Is it necessary to make war on militant Islam? That is the relevant question. If the answer to that question is "Yes," cost must be a secondary consideration.

By the way, it is by no means certain that the answer to this question must be "Yes." Europe seems willing to negociate with the terrorists who murdered hundreds of people in New York, even as in Jefferson's day Europe had for many years paid tributes to pashas in north Africa to assure that ships in the Mediterranean should continue in their trade routes unmolested by pirates. But the bribes were burdensome to a new nation, and that is why Jefferson refused to pay up. He decided that war on the pirates would be less expensive in the long run and offer a solution to the problem that was both practical and final.

The country is far from bankruptcy. There is some doubt whether a national debt that can be dissolved ought to be so worrisome as to cause opinion makers to declare that the country has entered a new Dark Age. Roosevelt's war was costly -- but necessary. President Bill Clinton got rid of the national debt in one term -- without raising taxes or lowering spending; the debt was wiped out largely by a burgeoning economy.

The president -- and virtually all Republicans officially connected with the presidential campaign -- was very careful to distinguish between a) John Kerry's service to his country during the Vietnam War, questioned by those outside his campaign, and b) Kerry's anti-war political activity.

Those who did not make the distinction could not, in good conscience, make the distinction: Among these were a majority of swift boat veterans who served honorably with Kerry during the war. Their criticism may have been harsh. But was it true? It simply is not possible to assert that no statements made by veterans (i.e. John Kerry) may be questioned (How dare you, sir!) and defend Kerry against charges made by ---veterans. Wars are not flags, and patriots should not be able to wrap themselves in a war to deflect criticism of their political activity during or following the war. If President Bush may be criticized for his approach to the present war, when such criticism is costly in terms of lives and the national treasure, surely Kerry may be criticized for his activities in a war that has passed us by and represents no danger to the nation.

As in other of his campaigns, Kerry made his military service and his anti-war activities a central issue. He invited scrutiny: Bring it on!"

So, what's the problem?

He was scrutinized. And closet critics -- bloggers and others whose writings circulate in the electronic underground -- found and exposed his clay feet.

In a story not widely circulated during the campaign, it was disclosed that Kerry, prior to his testimony before the U.S. congress, had traveled to Paris to meet with representative of the Viet Cong. The points mentioned in his testimony -- including the payment of reparations by the United States -- were remarkably similar to the Viet Cong six point program pressed upon him during the Paris meeting. Kerry was still in service at the time he met with the Viet Cong in Paris.

Kerry was the wrong candidate for Democrats at the wrong time.

That is why he lost the race.

Prime time commentators who write for the big newspaper chains -- and who lean to the left -- also are losing a very different race. What will bring them down finally is their hubris. Even now, when it is obvious that they have lost control of the political stump, they are inhospitable to dissenting voices and continue to write as if they were the only show in town.
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