The Durango (CO) Herald
Sunday, October 24, 2004
Kerry for president
Vote to fix the mess Bush has made
In his four years as president, George W. Bush has
turned this country on its head. With a desire to find in faulty
intelligence evidence that was not there, he has the United States
bogged down in Iraq in a brutal religious, cultural and regional
conflict that now offers little hope for a successful outcome.
It is a mess emblematic of his entire presidency. In
foreign, fiscal and domestic policy he has created problems that will
bedevil the nation for years.
The reconstruction of Afghanistan, where the mix of
U.S. and Northern Alliance military was largely successful against the
Taliban, has been sorely neglected. In Iraq, American ground
forces are stretched thinly in tentative warfare vacillating between
urban combat in unfriendly neighborhoods and deference to local
warlords. In almost tribal conflict, America's superb military is
hamstrung. Too much is being asked of reservists, with their
important specialties, while nothing is asked of taxpayers.
Because of its questionable and unilateral actions, the United States
is viewed as arrogant and a bully by its former friends.
At home, Bush's tax reduction policies have clearly
favored the wealthy, as though wealth, or the desire for it, makes the
individual. Corporate tax cuts -- $136 billion more were approved
at the end of the week -- are benefiting a disparate mix of businesses
that appear to have nothing in common but effective lobbyists (but
nothing for the makers of flu vaccine, which could make that uncertain
but critical business worthwhile a year from now.)
The stronger economy that Bush says will eventually
arise from tax reductions and reduce the deficit looks to be far in the
future while the negative numbers increase. Meanwhile, he
continues to argue for more and permanent tax cuts. No wonder
members of his own party are apoplectic at his fiscal irresponsibility.
Nothing, under this president's leadership, has been
done to deal with rising health-care costs or the looming bankruptcy of
Social Security. One extremely promising scientific field, stem
cell research, is only a small fraction of what it could be if the
president's individual interpretation of God's will had not dictated
We continue to use oil and gas at prodigious rates --
energy that costs more, ironically, because of the uncertainty and
instability that the U.S. presence in the Middle East has
brought. With reasonable requirements or incentives American
engineers could easily improve automobile fuel mileage and conservation
could be celebrated, not ignored.
Important to Colorado and the rest of the West, the
president has not hesitated to look to public lands for the energy we
are using so wastefully, seemingly uncaring about the permanent
scarring of roadless and wild territory that can never be
replaced. The invasion into unspoiled areas rightly has even
Republican sportsmen indignant.
Legislation that gives law-enforcement authorities
powers to act secretly threatens the rights that make this country what
it is. Yet, three years after the terrible attacks of Sept. 11,
2001, no one has been successfully prosecuted. Several
individuals, originally charged, have been released. Only
American John Walker Lindh, captured fighting for the Taliban in
Afghanistan, is serving a prison sentence as a result of a plea
bargain. That Lindh's case was resolved so quickly, with Lindh
having counsel, infuriates other nationalities whose fellow citizens
are being held indefinitely without lawyers or word.
Only the stiff jail sentences being announced for
the military men and women who cruelly assaulted prisoners in Abu
Ghraib have a chance to partially correct the impression that this
country argues for equal justice internationally while instead favoring
Is a vote based heavily on an incumbent's deep
shortcomings valid? Yes. An incumbent's record reflects
real initiatives in response to real issues.
John Kerry is poised to do much better.
Kerry is well-educated, as is the president, but
unlike the president did not turn his back on it. There was
family money, but he embraced public service positions to serve
Massachusetts as a prosecutor and senator. With his connections
he could have avoided military service, but he became an officer and
volunteered for duty in Vietnam. When he was discharged he worked
-- with some unfortunate exaggerations -- to bring that tragic and
unnecessary war to an end.
His congressional efforts included resolving the
false hopes of so many family members for military men missing in
Vietnam. His war record also made it possible for him to help
smooth the way to re-establishing diplomatic relations with that
Kerry has a strong start on seeing how the world
differs, and how the planet is growing smaller. He has visited
relatives in Europe, traveled internationally and married a
foreign-born woman who speaks five languages.
For those who ask why Kerry was not involved in
significant legislation in Congress, we suggest it was partly because
Massachusetts' senior senator, Ted Kennedy, had the bright limelight.
Kerry will tax the wealthy, and tax fairly, because
bills have to be paid. Strangely, this Democrat, more than the
sitting Republican president, understands that requirement.
While talk will only go so far, we believe that
Kerry's election will provide a greatly needed opportunity to restore
what the Declaration of Independence calls "a decent respect to the
opinions of mankind" and to reaffirm alliances and friendships with the
foreign powers Bush has so alienated. It could be a fresh start.
The pendulum of the presidency must swing back in
the other direction. It is time to return this country to the
leading world role it has held, and make it possible for its
citizenry to flourish with a vigorous and properly deployed defense,
domestic policy focused on the nation's real needs, and preserving an
environment fit for posterity.
Our next president should be John Kerry.
Copyright © 2004 The Durango Herald.