An Exclamation Point Vs. A Question Mark
Patrick J. Buchanan
September 6 2004
A man who
believes in something, even if wrong, will always defeat the man who
believes in nothing. That is the lesson of the conventions. The
exclamation point beats the question mark.
Even if one has concluded that George Bush made a historic blunder in
going to war to occupy a nation that had neither the intent nor the
capacity to gravely wound America, clearly, Bush believes he did the
right thing. The man exudes moral certitude.
But does anyone really know what John Kerry believes about this war? His
public stands call to mind Churchill's remark: "Take away this pudding.
It has no theme."
In October 2002, Kerry voted to give the president a blank check to
invade. Facing the challenge of Howard Dean, Kerry then voted to deny
our troops what they needed to defend themselves and consolidate
victory. A month ago, Kerry the Hawk returned. Sounding like a protege
of Richard Perle, he declared that he would have voted to authorize Bush
to launch an invasion, even had he known Iraq had no ties to Al Qaeda
and no WMD.
Came then Kerry's Boston convention. With his party sundered and himself
conflicted, Kerry dressed up as hawk or dove depending on the audience
he was addressing.
In Boston, Democrats were impassioned on two issues: revulsion of Bush
and hatred of the war. But that convention offered not one major speaker
in primetime to lay out an indictment of Bush for having blundered us
into one of the great foreign policy disasters of the era.
Sensing the divide in Kerry's soul as well as his party, the boys of
Madison Square drove straight at it. Ignoring Big Media warnings to be
kinder and gentler if they hoped to win the soccer moms, they sent to
the podium a roster of macho hard-liners, all of whom hailed the
president for courageous leadership in the war on terror and the war on
Iraq, and almost all of whom painted Kerry in pastels as a waffler and
girly man who could not be trusted to keep America secure.
Result? Kerry got a baby bounce from his convention. George W. Bush, in
both Time and Newsweek polls, has just opened up an 11-point lead with
only 3 percent to 4 percent undecided. For the first time since the
primaries, Bush has put real estate between himself and John Kerry.
Going into Labor Day, Bush has a lead over Kerry that is larger than the
lead his father had over Michael Dukakis on Labor Day 1988. Bush 41
never lost that lead.
The Madison Square Garden Republicans and their barn-burning Democratic
ally Zell Miller are now under fire for the brutality with which they
treated Kerry, draping around his neck, like a flaming tire filled with
gasoline, 30-year-old Kerry quotes and 20-year-old Kerry votes that
painted him as an unreconstructed Massachusetts liberal and twin to
Unlike 1992, where Bush 41 got twice the bounce from his Houston
convention as the son did out of New York, but ran away from his
convention and the issues it raised, the son is not running away.
Indeed, if he wins, it will have been won for him by this convention,
and by his speech there, which began as a bore but ended with a
Kerry was set up for the kill at Madison Square by the attacks in August
on his principal asset: that he had been a hero of Vietnam while Bush
hid out in the Texas National Guard and Cheney of the five deferments
had "other priorities."
The gunners of August who may have cost Kerry the presidency for which
he has planned his whole life are the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth.
These men of the Mekong -- many decorated for wartime wounds and valor,
several of them admirals and POWs -- returned, after 33 years, to settle
accounts, to tell the truth about Kerry's wartime service and postwar
misconduct, and to cast a dark shadow of disbelief over his medals,
ribbons, credibility, character and honor.
If Bush wins this election, he will have won it as his father did it in
1988, by defying Big Media attacks on him for the politics of hate, and
by running the kind of focused ruthless campaign Republicans seemed to
have forgotten in the "kinder, gentler" decade of the 1990s. Bush's
advantage over his father is that he was raised in Midland-Odessa, not
Agree or disagree with what they are saying, what the Swiftboat vets,
Zell Miller and George Bush have is authenticity and certitude. Even
fence-straddlers prefer that to the Hamlet windsurfing off Nantucket
© 2004 Creators
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