Friday, September 10, 2004

A couple of thoughts came to me today as I was reading through the New York Times, mostly to do with the Kerry campaign. The two dominant issues in this election will be national security and the economy. I haven't read anything to lead me to conclude that, although it is of great importance to most Americans, a great health care plan will win the day for either candidate.

What got me thinking at first was an article about Bush's attack on Kerry over taxes. Bush's theme was to paint Kerry as someone who would radically raise taxes. He contrasted that with the growth he believes his tax cuts have created. Yet, as the article points out, the tax cuts seem to have little direct correlation with the minimal growth the economy has experienced in the past few years. There has still been a net loss of jobs and economic growth continues to fall below expectations.

Rather than fall into the tax cut vs. tax hike argument (An argument that, unfortunately Kerry can not win. As Clinton pointed out, you can't run against a tax cut, no matter how ineffective or short-sited it may be), Kerry should point out the Bush administrations long-standing involvement with the companies and executives whose fraud pulled billions out of the economy, crashed several enormous companies, and left hundreds of thousands of people without jobs, pensions or savings. They should also point to his own failed history as a businessperson and the investigations into companies he was involved with; investigations that center around the same questions surrounding Enron and the like.

If they can use this to show that he not only has done little to lead this economy to higher ground, but that his entire financial history pointed to the fact that he could provide little guidance himself, or chose individuals who may be able to do so. Bush had little success at guiding his companies to profits, as well as a history choosing to work with individuals who have been involved in shady business dealing that enriched them and left others, including tax payers, to pick up the tab.

In addition, any questions regarding Kerry's ability to handle national security should be referred to the war in Iraq. The same qualities that led Bush to chose form over substance in his economic policy decisions, has led this administration to pick message over success in the war on terror as well as the war in Iraq. Bush's decision to give up the fight in Afghanistan and cut international assistance to attack Iraq has dealt an enormous blow to the war on terrorism. Even his choice of Iraq over a country like Iran is typical of their choice to put image ahead of effectiveness. Instead of the gossamer threads linking Iraq to terrorism, there is demonstrable proof that Iran has provided support and refuge for groups such as Hamas. That is not to say I am advocating an invasion of Iran, but it points to the Bush administration's policy of looking strong despite any lack of coherent policy or evidence to back up its actions.

The short-term is the key for the Bush campaign. They are more concerned with achieving quick short-term victories in order to wave the flag at home, than they are at achieving long-term global victory. That victory requires strong alliances, international cooperation, a strong military in order to attack the groups when the congregate and providing economic and intelligence support for countries that are possible sources of terrorists. The U.S. needs not only military strength, but the ability to turn the people in these tenuous situations against those elements in their societies that foment the type of terrorism we face today.

The Bush administration has not done this. In fact their actions have probably worsened the situation.

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