Sunday, October 10, 2004

Character Will Out

UPDATED - 10/11/04

A few posts ago I quoted QD at Southern Appeal:
So in spite of the fact that Kerry promises to "kill" the terrorists, it seems much more plausible to think that he'll instead tack toward the French and German strategy of using intelligence and legal means to disrupt terrorist plans while carefully avoiding acts which might "inflame" potential adversaries. In other words, he'll revert to a pre-Sept. 11th strategy. What makes the Kerry supporters think I'm wrong here?
My comment:
QD is quite right. Character shows up early in adult life and sticks with you, unless you experience what QD calls a deep psychological crisis. James David Barber's classic book, Presidential Character: Predicting Performance In The White House, amply documents the persistence of long-held character traits into the White House years of American presidents.

But what about Bush, the erstwhile playboy, alcoholic, and drug-taker? Bush, unlike Kerry, forced a psychological crisis upon himself. He is not the same person he was in his wanton days. He has evolved into a hard-nosed realist who will kill terrorists.
Now, thanks to pointers from all over the blogosphere, I find the following in today's New York Times:
When I asked Kerry what it would take for Americans to feel safe again, he displayed a much less apocalyptic worldview. "We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance," Kerry said. "As a former law-enforcement person, I know we're never going to end prostitution. We're never going to end illegal gambling. But we're going to reduce it, organized crime, to a level where it isn't on the rise. It isn't threatening people's lives every day, and fundamentally, it's something that you continue to fight, but it's not threatening the fabric of your life."
What a dunce! The only way to get back to where we were -- if we can -- is to wage an all-out war on terror by constantly disrupting terrorists' plans and destroying terrorists wherever we can, with every means at our disposal: legal, financial, diplomatic, and military. Suggesting that we might tolerate terrorists as a "nuisance" -- like hookers on a street corner or back-room gamblers -- is a perfect illustration of Kerry's legalistic view of the problem.

We're in a war, dammit -- not a fight to reduce the incidence of graffiti. And we'll be in a war until the terrorist bastards are less than a nuisance.

Lileks, as usual, says it better:
But that's not the key phrase. This matters: We have to get back to the place we were.

But when we were there we were blind. When we were there we losing. When we were there we died. We have to get back to the place we were. We have to get back to 9/10? We have to get back to the place we were. So we can go through it all again? We have to get back to the place we were. And forget all we’ve learned and done? We have to get back to the place we were. No. I don’t want to go back there. Planes into towers. That changed the terms. I am remarkably disinterested in returning to a place where such things are unimaginable. Where our nighmares are their dreams.

We have to get back to the place we were.

No. We have to go the place where they are.
Filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi (daughter of Big Democrat Nancy Pelosi and a Democrat herself), made a ripple a few years ago with her documentary about Bush's 2000 campaign. Now she's back with another campaign documentary and some telling insights about Bush and Kerry (from an AP story, via the Austin American-Statesman, registration required):
...Pelosi's documentary "Journeys with George," which made a splash at the 2002 South by Southwest Film Festival, depicted a goofy but endearing George W. Bush in backstage moments during the 2000 presidential campaign.

Fortunately, Pelosi wasn't looking for the star of a sequel. She went back to the campaign trail more to expose a dysfunctional process than a candidate. The quickly edited film "Diary of a Political Tourist" premieres tonight at 7 on HBO.

The documentary opens nostalgically with Bush holding a barbecue for members of Congress on the White House lawn (Pelosi is the daughter of House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi) and good-naturedly teasing Alexandra.

"How much money did you make off of me?" the president asks.

"I'm going to be a beneficiary of your tax cut," she replies.

By contrast, the man who's looking to replace him exposes virtually nothing in hours of filming. Kerry is always cautious, always conscious of the camera.

Whatever you think of his politics, Bush is a movie star, Pelosi said. Kerry isn't.

"I don't think if I spent six more months on his lap was he going to reveal any more than he did," she said. "He was who he was. I wasn't going to crack the code of understanding John Kerry."

It didn't happen during the depths of Kerry's campaign -- when Pelosi impudently asked, "Are you a dead man walking?" -- or its heights, when the filmmaker tried for weeks to land a one-on-one interview with the presumptive nominee.

When an audience was finally granted, Kerry surrounded himself with young aides and derailed the process by grabbing Pelosi's camera and turning it on her, just like Bush had four years earlier.

"I never thought I saw one honest moment during the entire campaign," Pelosi said....
Enough said.