Saturday, October 09, 2004

Getting It Right about Character

QD at Southern Appeal has this to say about Kerry and the war on terror:
Question for Kerry Supporters: I have a question for those of you who are planning to vote for Sen. Kerry....In your view,where in Kerry's background, temperament, or ideas do you find assurance that he'll do a good job in fighting the war on terror?

My experience has been that people mostly don't change their stripes (absent some deep psychological crisis or religious conversion). Kerry's entire political career has been oriented, it seems to me, around the opposition to the forceful projection of American military power. With respect to Vietnam, the Cold War, Central America, the first Gulf War, and now the war in Iraq....Now, maybe none of that previous history has anything to do with how he would conduct the war on terror, but, as I said, people don't often change their character....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?
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.