The great issue in the 2004 election — it seems to me as an Englishman — is, How seriously does the United States take its role as a world leader, and how far will it make sacrifices, and risk unpopularity, to discharge this duty with success and honor? In short, this is an election of the greatest significance, for Americans and all the rest of us. It will redefine what kind of a country the United States is, and how far the rest of the world can rely upon her to preserve the general safety and protect our civilization....(From Paul Johnson's "High Stakes," National Review, October 25, 2004. Thanks to The American Thinker for the tip, and to the Hispanic American Center for Economic Research for the complete text.)
...September 11...gave [George W. Bush's] presidency a purpose and a theme, and imposed on him a mission....[H]e has been absolutely right in estimating the seriousness of the threat international terrorism poses to the entire world and on the need for the United States to meet this threat with all the means at its disposal and for as long as may be necessary. Equally, he has placed these considerations right at the center of his policies and continued to do so with total consistency, adamantine determination, and remarkable courage, despite sneers and jeers, ridicule and venomous opposition, and much unpopularity.
There is something grimly admirable about his stoicism in the face of reverses, which reminds me of other moments in history: the dark winter Washington faced in 1777-78, a time to “try men’s souls,” as Thomas Paine put it, and the long succession of military failures Lincoln had to bear and explain before he found a commander who could take the cause to victory....[S]omething persuades me that Bush — with his grimness and doggedness, his lack of sparkle but his enviable concentration on the central issue — is the president America needs at this difficult time.
He has, it seems to me, the moral right to ask American voters to give him the mandate to finish the job he has started.
This impression is abundantly confirmed, indeed made overwhelming, when we look at the alternative....[T]here are six good reasons that he should be mistrusted. First, and perhaps most important, he seems to have no strong convictions about what he would do if given office and power. The content and emphasis of his campaign on terrorism, Iraq, and related issues have varied from week to week. But they seem always to be determined by what his advisers, analyzing the polls and other evidence, recommend, rather than by his own judgment and convictions....
...Second, Kerry’s personal character has, so far, appeared in a bad light. He has always presented himself, for the purpose of Massachusetts vote-getting, as a Boston Catholic of presumably Irish origins. This side of Kerry is fundamentally dishonest. He does not follow Catholic teachings...[and] since the campaign began it has emerged that Kerry’s origins are not in the Boston-Irish community but in Germanic Judaism. Kerry knew this all along, and deliberately concealed it for political purposes. If a man will mislead about such matters, he will mislead about anything.
There is, thirdly, Kerry’s long record of contradictions and uncertainties as a senator and his apparent inability to pursue a consistent policy on major issues.
Fourth is his posturing over his military record, highlighted by his embarrassing pseudo-military salute when accepting the nomination. Fifth is his disturbing lifestyle, combining liberal — even radical — politics with being the husband, in succession, of two heiresses, one worth $300 million and the other $1 billion....Sixth and last is the Kerry team: who seem to combine considerable skills in electioneering with a variety of opinions on all key issues. Indeed, it is when one looks at Kerry’s closest associates that one’s doubts about his suitability become certainties....[T]he man Kerry would have as his vice president is an ambulancechasing lawyer of precisely the kind the American system has spawned in recent decades, to its great loss and peril....
Of Kerry’s backers, maybe the most prominent is George Soros, a man who made his billions through the kind of unscrupulous manipulations that (in Marxist folklore) characterize “finance capitalism.” This is the man who did everything in his power to wreck the currency of Britain....He has also used his immense resources to interfere in the domestic affairs of half a dozen other countries, some of them small enough for serious meddling to be hard to resist. One has to ask: Why is a man like Soros so eager to see Kerry in the White House? The question is especially pertinent since he is not alone among the superrich wishing to see Bush beaten. There are several other huge fortunes backing Kerry....
I don’t recall any occasion, certainly not since the age of FDR, when so much partisan election material has been produced by intellectuals of the Left, not only in the United States but in Europe, especially in Britain, France, and Germany. These intellectuals — many of them with long and lugubrious records of supporting lost left-wing causes....
Behind this front line of articulate Bushicides...there is the usual cast of Continental suspects, led by Chirac in France and the superbureaucrats of Brussels....Anti-Americanism has seldom been stronger in Continental Europe, and Bush seems to personify in his simple, uncomplicated self all the things these people most hate about America — precisely because he is so American. Anti-Americanism, like anti-Semitism, is not, of course, a rational reflex. It is, rather, a mental disease, and the Continentals are currently suffering from a virulent spasm of the infection, as always happens when America exerts strong and unbending leadership.
Behind this second line of adversaries there is a far more sinister third. All the elements of anarchy and unrest in the Middle East and Muslim Asia and Africa are clamoring and praying for a Kerry victory....[Bush's] defeat on November 2 [would] be greeted, in Arab capitals, by shouts of triumph from fundamentalist mobs of exactly the kind that greeted the news that the Twin Towers had collapsed and their occupants been exterminated.
I cannot recall any election when the enemies of America all over the world have been so unanimous in hoping for the victory of one candidate. That is the overwhelming reason that John Kerry must be defeated, heavily and comprehensively.
Friday, October 29, 2004
Paul Johnson, a British historian perhaps best-known for Modern Times, assesses the stakes in the election of 2004: