As almost always happens in the month before a presidential election, the polls are showing a dead heat between the candidates. Both President Bush and Democratic challenger John Kerry have made mistakes in this campaign, and both have paid the price in the polls.
What really matters is the final poll, which ends Nov. 2.
With that in mind, we'd like to present our reasons for endorsing President Bush for a second term. He's not a good communicator, as the Sept. 30 debate showed, but his message is consistent. He's sometimes wrong, but he's correct more often than not, particularly on the most crucially important issue of our day, which is national security.
As British Prime Minister Tony Blair noted last week, there are two ways to interpret the world's terrorism problem. "One view is that there are isolated individuals, extremists, engaged in essentially isolated acts of terrorism. That what is happening is not qualitatively different from the terrorism we have always lived with," Blair said.
"The other view," he continued, "is that this is a wholly new phenomenon, worldwide global terrorism based on a perversion of ... Islam; that its roots are not superficial but deep, in the madrassehs of Pakistan, in the extreme forms of Wahhabi doctrine in Saudi Arabia, in the former training camps of Al Qaida in Afghanistan; in the cauldron of Chechnya; in parts of the politics of most countries of the Middle East and many in Asia; in the extremist minority that now live in every European city and preach hatred of the West and our way of life."
To us it has been apparent for years that the second view is correct. After Sept. 11, 2001, like all Americans we struggled to make sense of what had happened. Our first instinct was to look inward and ask, what have we done to make them hate us so much? But as the evidence and the information continue to pour in, it became apparent that the 9/11 attacks were part of a situation that had been brewing for years and was worldwide in scope. It also became clear that nothing short of all-out war could stop the desperate fanatics who want to force the world to adopt their version of Islam.
President Bush sees this clearly. So did President Clinton when he told the U.S.-Islamic world forum in Qatar last March that if he had been president on 9/11, he would have responded identically to President Bush.
We now face an election that will determine the way the war on terrorism is prosecuted in the future. Bush sees View 2, the big picture of terrorism, and has proven himself to be a strong leader. Whatever Sen. Kerry says this week, he's been consistent most of his life on one thing -- he's against war. He believes in "international law," that the backing of France and Germany is essential and that he could secure it. His voting record as a senator is strongly anti-defense and anti-intelligence. It was apparent in the Sept. 30 debate that he now believes that once bin Laden is captured, the war will be over and we can continue to handle terrorism on a case-by-case basis.
Bush believes that freeing Muslim societies from their dictators will result in reforms that defeat terrorism. Iraq is the primary test case. If we succeed there -- and we must -- the hope is that it will inspire other nations to initiate democratic reforms and clamp down on terrorists. Some are already doing so; whether it will continue, whether it will be enough, remains to be seen.
Other issues are important, but secondary. On the economy, Bush has done well. His tax cuts pulled us out of a recession and have kept us going through 9/11 and the war that followed. Unemployment is low and so is inflation (oil prices excepted). He's wobbled on free trade, but seems to be heading in the right direction.
He seems to sense the critical importance of Social Security reform and hopefully would have the strength of purpose to do what needs to be done before it's too late. His Medicare drug benefit was a mistake, but if people figure out how to use it and the drugs keep them out of the hospitals, who knows? Maybe it will actually save money.
His health care reform proposals are good, but inadequate; Kerry's are no better. Neither addresses the systemic problems that raise costs, though Bush's comes closer.
His education policy was a step toward federal control of our schools, which is bad. Hopefully adjustments will continue to be made to No Child Left Behind, and more funding will be added.
The one inarguable about Bush is that the country has suffered no serious terror attacks since 9/11 -- yet. While Kerry and others no doubt see that as a sign that View 1 is correct, to us it's apparent that Bush's policies, and our brave troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, are keeping us safe. He deserves to be re-elected.
- Publisher Karl Heminger, Editor Robert E. Hesse,
Editorial Page Editor Cynthia Moorhead, Publisher Emeritus Edwin L.
is a family run paper covering Hancock County
and parts of Allen,
Hardin, Wyandot, Seneca, Wood and Putnam counties in Northwest Ohio.
Editorial Board - Publisher Karl Heminger, Editor Robert E. Hesse, Editorial Page Editor Cynthia Moorhead, Publisher Emeritus Edwin L. Heminger. The Courier is a family run paper covering Hancock County and parts of Allen, Hardin, Wyandot, Seneca, Wood and Putnam counties in Northwest Ohio.