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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Thursday, September 09, 2004


What Would Kerry Do?

posted by Aziz P. at Thursday, September 09, 2004 permalink View blog reactions
Red State looks at the "evidence" and draws the conclusion that Kerry won't prosecute the war on terror in his first term, whereas Bush will begin to in his second term. Tacitus is intellectually honest to admit that Bush hasn't been prosecuting said war very effectively until this point (of course, the definition of "prosecute the WOT" is itself open to legitimate debate).

The opinion ultimately boils down to a question of faith, in your party's strength and righteousness, or more accurately in the case of Red State, the Other party's craven weakness.

I don't believe it is intellectually rigorous to support Bush in 2004 on the basis of actions he will (may) do but has not yet done. I see this election as a referendum on the incumbent's performance. The right to vote, if not excercised punitively against leadership who fail to meet expectation, is ultimately wasted.

The reason that I think Bush won't do a good job in a second term is NOT because I'm some frothing lefty who holds Republicans in contempt. Ratherm it's because I evaluate Bush on his record so far and find him wanting - an assessment with which Tacitus also agrees, in sum if not on specifics.

Further, my evaluation of Kerry wrt the WOT is positive not because I think Democrats are saints, but because I think that a Kerry Administration is more likely to see American power from a multi-pole perspective. I am heavily influenced by Gary Hart's vision laid out in his book, The Fourth Power, and also his comments in this recent interview. I believe Liberty is hard and that our foreign policy under Bush and the neoconservative school assume it to be easy.

But I may of course be wrong and Kerry may pursue a philosophy towards foreign policy and the war on terror completely opposed to the Hart school of conservative-neo-Wilsonianism. In that case, I will be pulling the lever for Kerry's opponent in 2008. It's as simple as that.

A referendum on the incumbent, if consistently applied, will make all incumbents that much more inclined to listen to the power of the people. A rubber stamp of approval for failure is almost an innoculation against success.

UPDATE: Tacitus takes some offense at my characterization, with justification. I've edited my first sentence accordingly. In addition, Tacitus drew a distinction between the war on terror and the war in Iraq - I would have agreed with that distinction prior to our invasion, but today they are for better or for worse one and the same. Also, he backtracks from his prior multiple, angry, critical assertions of Bush's failure in prosecution of the war, saying now only that Bush has been lackluster. In this post, he concludes,

"If the choice is between creeping defeat and outright surrender coupled with craven self-abnegation, well, give me the former. Therein, at least, lies a fighting chance. Therein lies the possibility, however faint, of a change of course. What remains is for us to make that change happen. This is gut-check time for Republicans, and particularly for Republicans on the Hill. Are we in it for the Administration? Or are we in it for America".

Hardly a ringing endorsement of success, though technically not an outright accusation of failure in specific terms. And his evidence for the supposed craven self-abnegation of John Kerry remains thin gruel. Which is why I initially used the word "partisan" in my first sentence to describe his conclusion - because the evidence of Tacitus' own words still suggest an a-priori conclusion rather than one arrived at by objective analysis.


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.