The newest Cox and Forkum cartoon inspires me to write a little about voter motivations in this election.  I’m going to post the whole C&F cartoon and commentary in a few minutes, but briefly, it points out what is pretty obvious by now: virtually no one is voting for John F---ing Flipper Forbes Kerry in this election.  People are either voting for Bush, or against Bush; the decision has nothing to do with Kerry, and indeed many of the Bush-haters hate him so much that they don’t even care (and therefore haven’t taken the time to learn) what Kerry stands for.

For most Bush-haters, there seems to be one main reason they despise him: the Iraq war.  (Some people hate him because "he’s a moron" but since he graduated from an ivy-league university, managed to become president of the USA, and his IQ is higher than John Kerry’s, these haters are either wrong or they’re liars, and either way the argument is invalid.  Others hate Bush because of the economic situation in the US, but considering that Bush was handed the start of a recession by Clinton, that we are fighting a war, and that the economy is recovering (and was never doing THAT bad anyway), I think this too must be written off as invalid: it’s not Bush’s fault and it’s not as bad as some make it out to be.)

Now, the main complaint regarding the Iraq war is that since we haven’t found WMDs, Bush was wrong to go to war.  (Again, we can narrow the field a little more here: some people’s objection to the war is simply that all war is wrong; since such people are idealogues with no knowledge of history and no understanding of reality, their arguments are invalid.  Likewise, some believe that since Iraq didn’t blossom into a utopian paradise overnight after we invaded, Bush was wrong to go to war.  And again, such an expectation is utterly detached from reality and all the examples of history, so it’s not worth spending any time on; if the fact that we spent decades in Japan and Germany doesn’t make that obvious to you, then you are beyond hope.)

So, what’s left as the only rational objection to Bush-as-president is the idea that the war was wrong because we haven’t yet found WMDs.  There are a few different levels to this objection.

First, the "Bush lied" issue.  This can be dismissed as Bush-hater rhetoric since intelligence from the CIA, the UK, Germany, Egypt, and Syria all pointed to Saddam having / attempting to acquire WMDs.  It may be argued that those reports were wrong, but acting on faulty intelligence is not the same as lying.

Second, the oft-misquoted statement about the imminence of the threat.  Bush said that we need to act so that Saddam does not become an imminent threat.  The Bush-haters in the media and on the left in general love to quote this as "we need to act because Saddam is an imminent threat" but that is not what Bush said; that’s very different.  We know that Saddam used WMDs on his own people (the Kurds) and on the Kuwaitis, and everyone -- including Clinton and Kerry -- believed that Saddam still wanted to acquire WMDs.  Whether or not he still had WMDs at the time of the US invasion, Saddam continually violated UN resolutions and he could have become an imminent threat had we not invaded.  There is no longer any possibility of Saddam becoming a threat.

Third, WMDs were never the main reason for going to war.  Or rather, they were, but not in the way most Bush-haters think.  Saddam definitely had WMDs in the past, everyone agreed that he probably was trying to acquire more, and he supported terrorists (Palestinian suicide bombers, for example).  The main threat to us was not so much Saddam directly using WMD against us, but more that the rogue nation of Iraq would develop WMDs or WMD technology and pass it off to any of the Islamofacists who want to kill Americans.

It was important for us to try to get UN support for our action against Iraq, mainly because Tony Blair is a true ally of ours and he couldn’t go to war without a UN resolution or an "unreasonable veto" (which France eventually provided).  Our long-term goal in the War on Terror is the widespread reform of much of the Arab world, since they are largely utter failures (welfare states, etc) producing nothing of value to the world except the oil in their land which they have by pure luck.  They are utter failures because they are theocratic or dictatorial regimes which make no provisions for individual rights and provide no incentive for individual effort, but their America-hating leaders convince the people that the US and Israel are to blame for their collective failures.  Since their governments will not allow them to become successful and prosperous and free as individuals, and since in their current state many of these people become terrorists and want to kill us, our only choice is to force reform upon them.  Our ultimate goal is for them to become successful and prosperous and free -- so that they stop trying to kill us, not because we’re just really nice -- but they can’t get from here to there under their existing regimes.  However, since the UN includes representatives of many terror-sponsoring Arab states, we could not publicly state the destabilization of the Arab world as our goal and expect to get the UN support that the UK required.  Since the WMD issue was valid and likely to garner support, that had to take center stage.  But the widespread reform of much of the Arab world (plus N. Korea for the same reasons) is our long-term goal; Iraq was simply the most readily-available starting point for this process.

(That last paragraph should probably be split into about 4 paragraphs and be better-explained and reordered, but I’m too tired for that, and the election is only a day away.)

The rest of this post is the "Decision 2004" article from Cox and Forkum.  Read the whole thing. posted image

We know that not all Kerry voters are primarily voting against Bush; and we know some Bush voters would vote for Bush no matter what. But in my opinion this cartoon captures what is motivating the large majority of voters on both sides. For Bush voters, fighting terrorism is the priority; for Kerry voters, fighting Bush is the priority.

I voted for Bush last week. Regular readers know that I have little good to say about Kerry’s proposed policies. They also know that I’ve been critical of Bush’s halting, apologetic pursuit of the war on terror (our first cartoon on that subject was in November 2001).

But because Bush correctly identified state-sponsors of terrorism as a primary target, and then followed through with deposing two terror-sponsoring regimes, and because Kerry has offered no alternative except to pursue the war more multilaterally (that is, commit the same mistakes Bush has made but as a matter of principle), and worse still, because Kerry would treat terrorism as a fundamentally criminal enterprise rather than the war it is, Bush remains the only short-term hope of holding back if not stopping Islamist terrorists and theocrats who threaten American and her allies. If re-elected, it would remain to be seen if Bush would prosecute the war as it should be. But he’s the only candidate to come close to pursuing the correct course.

Two recent editorials do a much better job than I could of explaining why Bush should be supported with qualifications. The first is by TIA Daily’s Robert Tracinski: Anti-Bushites for Bush.

Kerry may not be the "perfect" candidate of the enemies of civilization -- but he is their candidate, nonetheless, and he must be defeated. Bush is far from being the perfect candidate for those who want a vigorous defense of civilization against murderous Islamic fanatics. But he is our candidate, such as he is, and he deserves our support. ...

September 11 demonstrated that it is necessary to topple and destroy the Middle Eastern regimes that use terrorism as a weapon against the West -- the principle behind the Bush Doctrine. The administration has applied that doctrine to two regimes, and they deserve credit for it. But even that is not enough, over the long term. Even if our leaders applied the Bush doctrine consistently (against Iran and Syria, for example) and backed it up with the maximum force available, that would still leave the question: then what? What would prevent the re-emergence of new terrorist regimes to replace the old ones?

The only long-term answer is that the Arab and Muslim worlds must be civilized. They must have imposed on them a better system of government, one that allows, for the first time in the Arab world, the material vibrancy of a relatively free economy and the spiritual vibrancy of the free exchange of ideas.  This would do exactly what the clashing examples of East Berlin and West Berlin did in the Cold War: it would provide an unanswerable demonstration of the benefits of a free society on one side, contrasted to misery and oppression on the other side. It is, in my view, the most important thing that can be done in the military and political realm to defeat the philosophy that animates Islamic terrorism. ...

The choice, in short, is this. George Bush is a candidate who stands for a vigorous projection of American power to reshape the political structure of the Middle East, destroying the political underpinnings of Islamic terrorism -- but whose execution of that goal is continually undercut by compromise and appeasement. John Kerry is a candidate who stands for American withdrawal and passivity -- for whom any expression of American strength would be an act of compromise and appeasement.

George W. Bush cannot be trusted to fight the war properly, but John Kerry can be trusted to retreat.

Also, from Harry Binswanger: Vote for President Bush.

The Bush doctrine, for all its timid, bumbling, and altruism-laced implementation, intends America to act, to use its military might offensively, even when half the world protests against it. Kerry’s "instincts" are to negotiate, conciliate, and retreat.

It has been clear from the beginning of this overly long campaign that Kerry’s fixation on "working with allies" does not represent a concern with any practical benefit to be attained but is an expression of his anti-American, anti-war views -- views essentially unchanged from his anti-Vietnam War days. Contrary to some of his more recent statements, Kerry does not think that Iraq in particular was "the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time": he thinks any military self-assertion by America is wrong.

I agree with both authors’ contention that Bush’s religiosity is a concern but not one that trumps the war.

Hopefully whoever wins Nov. 2 will do so by a wide margin. I, for one, do not want this presidential election to drag on like the last one.

Posted by Anthony on reply

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