What Would Kerry Do?

Red State looks at the "evidence" and draws the conclusion that Kerry won't prosecute the war on terror in his first term, whereas Bush will begin to in his second term. Tacitus is intellectually honest to admit that Bush hasn't been prosecuting said war very effectively until this point (of course, the definition of "prosecute the WOT" is itself open to legitimate debate).

The opinion ultimately boils down to a question of faith, in your party's strength and righteousness, or more accurately in the case of Red State, the Other party's craven weakness.

I don't believe it is intellectually rigorous to support Bush in 2004 on the basis of actions he will (may) do but has not yet done. I see this election as a referendum on the incumbent's performance. The right to vote, if not excercised punitively against leadership who fail to meet expectation, is ultimately wasted.

The reason that I think Bush won't do a good job in a second term is NOT because I'm some frothing lefty who holds Republicans in contempt. Ratherm it's because I evaluate Bush on his record so far and find him wanting - an assessment with which Tacitus also agrees, in sum if not on specifics.

Further, my evaluation of Kerry wrt the WOT is positive not because I think Democrats are saints, but because I think that a Kerry Administration is more likely to see American power from a multi-pole perspective. I am heavily influenced by Gary Hart's vision laid out in his book, The Fourth Power, and also his comments in this recent interview. I believe Liberty is hard and that our foreign policy under Bush and the neoconservative school assume it to be easy.

But I may of course be wrong and Kerry may pursue a philosophy towards foreign policy and the war on terror completely opposed to the Hart school of conservative-neo-Wilsonianism. In that case, I will be pulling the lever for Kerry's opponent in 2008. It's as simple as that.

A referendum on the incumbent, if consistently applied, will make all incumbents that much more inclined to listen to the power of the people. A rubber stamp of approval for failure is almost an innoculation against success.

UPDATE: Tacitus takes some offense at my characterization, with justification. I've edited my first sentence accordingly. In addition, Tacitus drew a distinction between the war on terror and the war in Iraq - I would have agreed with that distinction prior to our invasion, but today they are for better or for worse one and the same. Also, he backtracks from his prior multiple, angry, critical assertions of Bush's failure in prosecution of the war, saying now only that Bush has been lackluster. In this post, he concludes,

"If the choice is between creeping defeat and outright surrender coupled with craven self-abnegation, well, give me the former. Therein, at least, lies a fighting chance. Therein lies the possibility, however faint, of a change of course. What remains is for us to make that change happen. This is gut-check time for Republicans, and particularly for Republicans on the Hill. Are we in it for the Administration? Or are we in it for America".

Hardly a ringing endorsement of success, though technically not an outright accusation of failure in specific terms. And his evidence for the supposed craven self-abnegation of John Kerry remains thin gruel. Which is why I initially used the word "partisan" in my first sentence to describe his conclusion - because the evidence of Tacitus' own words still suggest an a-priori conclusion rather than one arrived at by objective analysis.


praktike said...

Key flaw in Tacitus' post:

"Having gone wrong, are things now going right? Signs cited here point to yes."

Technically true, since the selective evidence assembled by Tacitus does point to yes. In the real world, however, Iraq is a mess and getting messier, as the CSIS has documented.

Dan said...

Reasonable enough approach.

Did you get my e-mail?