http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/virgin/194762_virgin12.html Tuesday, October 12, 2004 Serious times require re-election By BILL VIRGIN SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER COLUMNIST Given the verbiage contained in this daily fish wrap celebrating John Kerry and wailing what a threat to the planet George W. Bush constitutes, I suppose it is time for someone to sluice out the Augean stables of accumulated political nonsense. Somebody needs to help back up on the turnip truck those who not only fell off yesterday but, having done so, proceeded to purchase (at full retail) every vial of snake oil being peddled by the Kerryites, and explain why the president should be re-elected. That person would be me. In a more frivolous time -- say, the Clinton administration -- it would be enough to recommend re-election merely by listing the accumulation of generally deplorable people -- Michael Moore, Al Franken, Garry Trudeau, Bill Moyers, Garrison Keillor, et al. -- caterwauling about Bush. But these are not frivolous times. These serious times mean dealing with serious issues, most of them having to do, in some form, with the economy. There's been a lot of fatuous talk about presidents creating or losing jobs. Here's a news bulletin: They don't. Bush didn't lose jobs any more than Clinton created them (of course, if the Dems want to take credit for the bubble economy of the '90s, they can also take credit for its collapse, since it was already in full retreat by Inauguration Day 2001). What presidents can do is tinker at the margins, and to create a climate for businesses to generate jobs (or do the sorts of things that discourage job creation). This Bush has done with not one but two tax cuts (which, despite what you have heard, substantially benefited the middle class) that helped tide the economy over its rough spot and set the stage for a recovery. On foreign trade, Bush has been (to borrow the old Scoop Jackson comment about liberalism) a free-trader without being a damn fool about it. While he has advocated further agreements to reduce barriers, he has also been willing to file and pursue cases on commodities ranging from airplanes to steel -- much to the disconsolation of the purer-than-thou wing of his own party. Even if the cases are ultimately unsuccessful, at least they've sent the signal that the United States will no longer be an easy mark. But by far the most serious economic issue of our times also happens to be this campaign's big-ticket issue: global security. On that issue, Bush is clearly the superior choice. He was exactly right to go after the Taliban in Afghanistan, and then to go after Saddam Hussein in Iraq. He correctly saw those two events as part of a continuum on the war on radical Islamofascism. The Kerryites and others with limited mental dexterity have a hard time distinguishing between the words "safe" and "safer." Did booting the Taliban from Afghanistan, forcing Saddam to live like a dissolute hobbit and putting al-Qaida on the run make the world "safe"? Of course not. The world wasn't "safe" then, isn't "safe" now, never will be "safe." But did taking those actions make the world safer, and better, not just for Americans but for those nations that aspire to some degree of freedom and tranquility? Absolutely. Deposing Saddam deprived global terrorism of one place in which to set up an operating base and one more sponsor (and yes, Saddam was working on more nasty weapons to supplement those he hid or shipped to Syria, and he was definitely working on being al-Qaida's new best friend). It also sent to the rest of the world a message of American resoluteness, that it would not cower at home in anticipation of the next attack. Compare that with the Kerry approach, which appears to be a mixture of obsequiousness and forelock tugging before the corrupt and venal United Nations. Yes, there are still problem areas. Immigration policy continues to be a mess. Neither party seems interested in controlling spending (the Medicare drug benefit was a competition between both parties to see who could give away the most the fastest). Would John Kerry be a dreadful president, on the order of a Jimmy Carter or a Richard Nixon? Probably not. He seems to suffer the same malady as the first President Bush -- an interest in being president without much of an idea of what to do as president. Furthermore, a sharply divided Congress would likely rein in tendencies to veer toward the more unwholesome realms of AlGoreland. But the times require something more than a caretaker president sleepwalking to the next crisis. In contrast to the previous president, who actually had to pronounce "I am still relevant," there has been no question that the "misunderestimated" president has been relevant and willing to do more than gab issues to death, especially on the most critical issue of our age -- the promotion of not just our own security, but the cause of global freedom. Which is, if you're looking for one, a reason to vote for Bush. Of course, if you like the idea of further irritating the professional whining classes -- those who probably wouldn't be content without something to mewl about, anyway -- that'll work, too.