Why do you want to be president, John Kerry?

Discussion in 'Politics' started by jimnyc, Apr 14, 2004.

  1. jimnyc

    jimnyc ...

    Aug 28, 2003
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    New York
    WASHINGTON (Creators Syndicate) -- You're John Kerry, and you've already pulled off a political semi-miracle. First, you came back from whatever the zip code for oblivion is -- where the polls and wise guys had consigned you and your prospects last December.

    Then, defying history, you defeat an opponent who outspent you by millions and win the presidential nomination in a quick, six-week campaign that was anything but the civil war in the leper colony your party's primaries have been notorious for. The results: Your fellow Democrats are overwhelmingly united behind you in your run for the White House.

    Now forget all that!

    You won the nomination impressively based on two distinctive and closely related strengths that were relevant to Democratic primary voters whose highest priority in 2004 was the defeat of President George W. Bush. Based on your personal biography of heroism in combat in Vietnam, you both met the threshold test for commander in chief and qualified as the "most electable" challenger to Bush in the November general election. All that and three and a half bucks will get you a mocha-something at Starbucks.

    You're John Kerry, and you already have locked up the support of everybody who believes that George W. Bush's re-election constitutes a grave threat to the Western and the non-Western World. Forget that.

    Where your primary victories misled you and your supporters is that, according to the respected Los Angeles Times poll, when asked whether "I like George W. Bush as a person" or "I don't like George W. Bush as a person," better than two out of three 2004 voters like Bush. Because their choice for president is the most personal vote Americans cast, likeability does matter.

    Among the questions only the candidate, himself, can answer are:

    1) Why does John Kerry want to be president? Who are the victims of official indifference and injustice President John Kerry will aid? Who are the villains a President Kerry will bring to the bar of justice?

    2) What are the three real differences in the lives of real people that John Kerry as president would make ?

    3) What is the vision of John Kerry that is grander and larger than our own narrow or parochial perspectives -- the vision that will appeal to the best in all Americans?

    In answering these questions, John Kerry must do so without any reference to George W. Bush. Voters want to know who John Kerry is, what makes him go and what John Kerry, if he wins, will do.

    The electorate probably already suspects that Kerry thinks Bush is a lousy president, and yes, the 2004 election should be a referendum on the incumbent chief executive.

    But Kerry would do well to study the "game films" of the 1980 campaign, when Republican challenger Ronald Reagan refused to simply run against the unpopular incumbent, President Jimmy Carter. Instead, Reagan laid out his plans repeatedly, in specific detail -- double the defense budget, cut taxes by one third and, that's right, balance the federal budget -- so that when the Republican did win, that November, he could legitimately lay claim to a mandate for his program.

    What sacrifices would a President Kerry ask of all Americans? The profound lesson from the national tragedy of Vietnam, which George W. Bush either never learned or has chosen to forget, is: An army does not fight a war; a country fights a war. If the country is unwilling to make the collective sacrifices required to wage that war, then it must never send an army into battle.

    The message from George W. Bush, War President, to the most fortunate and most privileged of his fellow countrymen -- you will pay no price, you will bear no burden -- is an indictment of failed leadership. But what would John Kerry ask? Does he agree with the conservative writer Michael Barone that, "War demands equality of sacrifice"? The voters need those questions answered, soon.


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