The incompetent or the incoherent?
Oct 28th 2004
From The Economist print edition
With a heavy heart, we think American readers should vote for John Kerry on November 2nd…
The best analysis of Kerry and Bush. Why don’t I read more articles like this? Nobody is completely right or completely wrong which is exactly how the Republicans and Democrats present their candidates. It’s political how they can’t give credit to their opponents or admit mistakes. It makes them not credible in my opinion. It’s like lies of omission. People backing a particular candidate have similar motivations. They aren’t honest with themselves and only want to see what they want to see in a candidate; good or bad.
Here are some of the statements which add so much credibility to the author’s conclusions, even if you don’t agree with his conclusion:
This year’s battle has been between two deeply flawed men: George Bush, who has been a radical, transforming president but who has never seemed truly up to the job, let alone his own ambitions for it; and John Kerry, who often seems to have made up his mind conclusively about something only once, and that was 30 years ago.
It is far from an easy call, especially against the backdrop of a turbulent, dangerous world. But, on balance, our instinct is towards change rather than continuity: Mr Kerry, not Mr Bush.
Invading Iraq was not a mistake. Although the intelligence about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction has been shown to have been flimsy and, with hindsight, wrong, Saddam’s record of deception in the 12 years since the first Gulf war meant that it was right not to give him the benefit of the doubt. The containment scheme deployed around him was unsustainable and politically damaging: military bases in holy Saudi Arabia, sanctions that impoverished and even killed Iraqis and would have collapsed. But changing the regime so incompetently was a huge mistake.
With any challenger, voters have to make a leap of faith about what the new man might be like in office. What he says during the campaign is a poor guide.
Mr Kerry has shaped many of his positions to contrast himself with the incumbent. That is par for the course. What is more disconcerting, however, is the way those positions have oscillated, even as the facts behind them have stayed the same.
So what is Mr Kerry’s character? His voting record implies he is a vacillator, but that may be unfair, given the technical nature of many Senate votes. His oscillations this year imply that he is more of a ruthless opportunist.
Update: Richard posts about Jon Stewart’s appearance on Crossfire and eloquently describes the process that achieves a credible conclusion:
True debate starts with opposing views, but finds the common ground, concedes points in light of facts, avoids fallacious arguments, uncovers and accounts for assumptions, and attempts to navigate toward the reasoned positions that lie between the two polar opposites, and, hopefully, closer to the truth. Unfortunately, it seems all we have left in politics today is bifurcation.