St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Sunday, October 10, 2004
DECISION 2004: Kerry for president
BASED ON HIS RECORD, President George
W. Bush has not earned
re-election. He has mishandled the war on terrorism, shut his
disagreeable facts, left the next generation in hock and presided over
a sharp loss in jobs, health insurance and prosperity for millions of
Sen. John F. Kerry, D-Mass., understands that Mr. Bush took a wrong
turn by transforming the war on terrorism into an invasion of
understands the importance of working with our traditional allies and
the world community to fight terrorism. And he wants to step up
to address real nuclear threats by disposing of nuclear materials in
Russia and dealing directly with North Korea and Iran.
Mr. Kerry would reverse the tax cuts for the very wealthy and use the
money to improve health care and help middle-class families pay for
college. His strong environmental record offers the prospect of a
president whose environmentalism extends beyond cynical slogans such as
"Clear Skies" and "Healthy Forests."
In the troubled election of 2000, Mr. Bush ran as a compassionate
conservative who wanted to create a "lockbox" for Social Security and
unite the nation, while conducting a humble foreign policy that
eschewed nation-building. He pried open the lockbox, conducted an
arrogant foreign policy, tried to grow a democracy in burning sand and
left the nation more divided than at any time since Vietnam.
The case against Mr. Bush
After Sept. 11, 2001, a stunned, angry nation and much of the world
stood with Mr. Bush to depose the Taliban who had harbored al-Qaida in
Afghanistan. Victory was swift, but Mr. Bush made a critical strategic
blunder by failing to send U.S. troops to try to capture Osama bin
Laden at Tora Bora. Instead, Mr. Bush redirected forces toward
In the surge of patriotism, there were a few voices of restraint. Sen.
Richard Lugar, R-Ind., head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee,
said there was a lack of planning for postwar Iraq. United
weapons inspectors said they had not found weapons of mass
Traditional allies asked Mr. Bush to give inspections more time.
But Mr. Bush would not hear of it. The prediction that our troops
be welcomed with flowers, and that a democracy would flourish in Iraq
and spread throughout the Middle East turned out to be wishful
thinking. Those idealistic dreams look absurd today after the
1,000 Americans, the growth of an Iraqi insurgency, the alienation of
Muslims, the abuse at Abu Ghraib prison and the estrangement of the
United States from traditional allies.
Still Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney cling blindly to their
story line. When the Iraqi Survey Group concluded last week that
had no weapons of mass destruction, Mr. Bush insisted the report had
justified the war. He even came up with a new, ludicrous
Saddam's corruption of the U.N.'s oil-for-food program justified the
Meanwhile, Mr. Bush turned his back on the Geneva Conventions and
Attorney General John D. Ashcroft conducted an inept and heavy-handed
crackdown that violated civil liberties. Prosecution after
failed, and the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Mr. Bush's violations of
Mr. Bush's apparent inability to accept facts that are at odds with his
ideology is perhaps his greatest vulnerability as a leader. Just
refuses to recognize reality in Iraq, he has advanced domestic policies
that are at war with science. The administration has pooh-poohed
warming, downplayed the value of embryonic stem-cell research, claimed
a link between abortion and breast cancer and removed scientific papers
from government Web sites.
The failure of Mr. Bush's economic policy is evident in the numbers:
A decline by 821,000 in the number of Americans with jobs since he took
office, the worst jobs record since Herbert Hoover.
A decline in median household income, when adjusted for
means the average family is doing a little worse now than four years
The $236 billion annual budget surplus he inherited has turned into a
$422 billion annual deficit. We will pass this massive debt on to
Mr. Bush entered office facing a mild recession. His remedy was
tax cuts. But in giving those cuts primarily to the rich, he
the economic lift, while draining progressivity from the tax
Working families pay higher rates than rich families living off their
Even Mr. Bush's "compassionate" agenda - the No Child Left Behind
education law, the Medicare prescription drug benefit and the anti-AIDS
effort in Africa - have fallen short. Mr. Bush underfunded the
program and the AIDS initiative, and he refused to give the government
leverage with drug companies to get lower prices for seniors.
The case for Mr. Kerry
Mr. Kerry has a distinguished record in foreign affairs and a program
that addresses the nation's three most serious problems: the health
care crisis, the sputtering economy and the war.
Under his health plan, the government would cover catastrophic health
costs, triggering lower health insurance rates. In addition, Mr.
would expand health coverage for children, a federal program that he
helped start. The number of uninsured people, which rose to 45
from 40 million during the Bush years, would be halved.
Mr. Kerry would steer a more moderate economic course, restoring
fairness to the tax system and fiscal responsibility. He would raise
the minimum wage and restore overtime pay for low-level white-collar
In the Senate, Mr. Kerry was active in investigations of Iran-contra,
the CIA connection to Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega and the
corruption of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International. Long
before Sept. 11, 2001, he called for regulating electronic money
transfers and using the CIA against international criminal
Mr. Kerry was a leader on global warming, the ban on oil drilling in
the Arctic and the effort to raise automobile fuel-efficiency standards
- a sharp contrast to Mr. Bush's dismantling of environmental
Mr. Kerry has had trouble explaining the consistency of his position on
Iraq. But his views reflect those of many Americans. Like
he favored giving the president strong authority to eliminate weapons
in Iraq, but wanted the president to act through the United Nations and
as a last resort. Like most people, he was shocked that Mr. Bush
not planned well for the occupation and refused to recognize the
realities of the insurgency.
Mr. Kerry's plan to "win" the war in Iraq may be no more realistic than
Mr. Bush's. But Mr. Kerry's Vietnam record as a warrior and a
has taught him about the limits of American power and the importance of
a president playing it straight.
America needs a leader who sees the world as it is, who knows how to
rebuild international alliances, who focuses on threats to homeland
security, who runs the government for the benefit of all
virtue of his knowledge of world affairs, his life story of national
service and his moderate values, John Kerry is that leader.
Copyright © 2004 St. Louis Post-Dispatch
L.L.C. Reprinted by permission. (Christine
The editorial board
comprises Editorial Page Editor Christine Bertelson; Deputy Editorial
Page Editor William H. Freivogel, Editorial Writers John G. Carlton, Jim Gallagher,
Kevin Horrigan and Robert Joiner, Commentary Page Editor Eric Mink,
Letters Editor Ray Gunter and Editor Ellen Soeteber. The Post-Dispatch presented a series of
editorials on the issues leading up to the endorsement.
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