It's the War, Stupid

11.16.2004 | Eric Adler | National Affairs | 4 Comments
It’s been a week now since the election, and already many of the same pundits who hadn’t the foggiest idea of who would win have agreed on the reason for President Bush’s re-election — moral values.

Polling data indicate that a great number of American citizens plumped for the Republican candidate due to his views on social issues, rather than matters of foreign policy, security, taxes, etc. And according to this new conventional wisdom, it was these issues — especially the gay marriage bans on the ballots of several swing states — that put Bush over the top.

Most assuredly, there is some truth to this: Bush publicly presents himself as a believing Christian and unapologetically champions various causes dear to social conservatives.

Before we point fingers at the Massachusetts’ Supreme Court for handing the election to President Bush, however, we must take note of one thing: Senator Kerry publicly opposed same-sex marriage.

To be certain, Kerry’s stance on the issue was not as hard-line as Bush’s; the former refused to support a Constitutional amendment banning the practice.  Suspicious voters, moreover, may have doubted Kerry’s earnestness on this issue, as he brazenly supported other socially liberal causes.  

Even so, Kerry did not support gay marriage, and many voters across the political spectrum may have been unwilling to tinker with the Constitution — regardless of the degree to which they agree with the issue at hand.  In the Vice-Presidential debate, moreover, Dick Cheney made it clear that his own views on the topic of homosexual marriage diverged from the president’s. In short, no stark contrast existed between the candidates on this issue.

And wasn’t it less than ten years ago that social conservatives such as William Bennett were pontificating about the “death of outrage”? Think back to those good old days, when the American populace, corrupted by the values of the counterculture, failed to care a jot about President Clinton’s sexual misconduct and assorted moral failings.  

Are we now supposed to believe that, in a few short years, our country has witnessed some sort of moral Great Awakening, and contemporary voters would wholeheartedly embrace tossing a President Clinton from office?  It hardly seems likely.


Sometimes the obvious is true: what carried Bush to a second term was the War on Terrorism.

Sundry pundits chided the Democrats for turning their most recent convention into an expatiation on John Kerry’s military service in Vietnam.  But given Kerry’s extremely dovish record in the Senate, on what else were they to focus in a time of war?  Although Kerry scolded President Bush for his failure to win over more allies in the liberation of Iraq, the senator had voted against the first Gulf War — even though it had received the blessing of the United Nations.  

As Democrats found out on November 2nd, such a candidate is highly unlikely to eke out a victory in an election cycle dominated by foreign policy concerns. Kerry’s incessant support for a nuclear freeze during the Cold War, his opposition to the liberation of Grenada, and his vote against the first Gulf War rendered him an unattractive candidate to the majority of Americans.

In the course of the campaign, the editors of The New Republic chastised Bush for supposedly turning the War on Terrorism into an issue of character. By painting Kerry as a flip-flopper, they opined, the Republicans transformed policy concerns into a matter of morals.  

In truth, it was Kerry, not Bush, who expounded upon the War on Terrorism as intrinsically linked to the candidates’ temperament.  After all, the Democratic Convention dilated on Kerry’s service in Vietnam — in short, on his courage and patriotism — precisely because it could not safely touch upon his voting record on foreign affairs in the Senate.

As such, the message to Democrats during the War on Terrorism should be simple: until they offer the country candidates who have a more sanguine take on the use of American power, the presidency will continue to elude them.

Another proud graduate of the Rush Limbaugh School of Critical Thinking steps up to the karaoke mike! Thank you, Eric Adler, for helping us to decipher the disaster of November 2, 2004.

11.17.2004 | Chuck
What you swashbuckling crusaders call "sanguine" seems pretty sanguinary to me.
11.17.2004 | tina
Let us not rush to reject a piece that should give us much to chew on because it leaves a bad taste. Allow me to done a ruddy persona to follow the sanguinary scent before we wash our mouths and pick our teeth.

In fact I find the author quite correct in the first half of this piece. I regard the thought that Americans are concerned with morality as a mistake generated by optimism. It would be just as mistaken to view the United States as having a moral purpose or Politicians as having any sense of morality. The camera may try to imbue them with blood but we know that they lack the heart to pump it.

Where I find fault in the piece is where it looses the scent.

1) All of the United States did not vote for Bush. In fact the people most affected by terrorism voted against him (we should not confuse this with having voted for Kerry).

2) The next terrorist attack will most likely occur in a "blue" city such as New York, Los Angles, San Francisco or Chicago and not in a place like Huston; no matter how strongly we desire otherwise.

The people whose lives are in the greatest danger have roundly rejected Bush and his policies, in much the same way Chirac has in his recent interview on the BBC. It is an idiotic notion that the War on Terror or the War in Iraq or the Next War To Come, has made the world a safer place. By the State Departments own numbers we know that it is far more dangerous. Thus the people who find there subways and buildings being transformed into potential abattoirs said no to Bush.

It was the Folk in the Homeland (that have very little chance of being affected by terrorism) that chosen Bush as their leader and, I quite agree, it was to fight these wars. Now liberals have stated it is because of fear, but fear sometimes masks an unacceptable desire. Thus what is the desire?

Lights! Falluja! A young Marine, before a camera crew, stands in a Mosque and looks down at an injured unarmed man.
-This one is pretending to be dead.
He opens fire.
In the homeland they look at Iraq and say:
-Ah Liberation
And wash the down the taste of blood, with an ice cold beer.
11.18.2004 | Constantine Constantus
The point is well taken by this liberal, who realizes that Kerry couldn't get out from under the Republican lies. Republicans know they can't win on issues arguments, so they lie and obsfucate. They made it a question of Kerry's character, yes, and Kerry played right into it. But the blame is less on Kerry for trying to continue arguing nuance and issues, and more on Bush who refused to answer questions, who refused to argue issues, and who lied, lied, lied, all the way home like the little piggie he is.

The big lie obviously is that Iraq is part of the war on terror. The little lies helped a lot too, like, "want some wood" in response to criticism of his tax cuts, or, "net increase in wetlands," or "clear skies initiative." How about "fight them there so we don't have to fight them here." That's just stupid, frankly, and the fact that it was spread more in red states says a lot about these places, where, like Bush, the majority reject evolution.

So, to hear people blame Kerry is really kind of a joke, when we all know who's to blame: A Republican party that lies and cheats--how about the fliers in a couple of states that said Kerry wanted to ban the Bible? In Ohio on election day, there was a BIG LIE phone call by Republicans acting like Democrats begging the voter to get out and vote for Kerry so he could make Gay Marriage legal. Remember, cotrary to what the partisan above says, the election was decided by 136,000 voters in Ohio. I'm sure there were at 136,000 anti-gay-marriage voters in Ohio. And, it's conceivable that that many were convinced by the Republican lies and cheating. So, wouldn't it be the Bush lies that decided it?

Scott Supak
11.29.2004 | Scott Supak

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