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Unanswered Questions of 2004

Patrick J Buchanan

October 18  2004

That John Kerry won the debates, no matter how any of us score them, seems undeniable. Before the first debate in Miami, his campaign was dead in the water.

Throughout August, he had been swift-boated by the Veterans for Truth with repeated attacks on his combat service, character and credibility. The GOP convention completed the demolition. By one poll in September, only 36 percent of the nation held a favorable view of Kerry, a seemingly impossible hurdle to surmount.

The president led in every national poll, in some by 10 points. Battleground states like Missouri were being ceded, as Kerry pulled out. Bush had become competitive in Blue states like Oregon and New Jersey. All the president needed to do was perform in Miami up to the level of St. Louis or Phoenix. He failed.

In Miami, 60 million Americans saw a John Kerry who did not remotely resemble the caricature of a Massachusetts liberal the Bush campaign had drawn. Kerry looked like a president.

But the president appeared exasperated, almost petulant, that he was being forced to stand there for 90 minutes and endure having himself and his record picked apart by a fellow Skull & Bones man he holds in minimal high regard. The Bush campaign has not yet recovered from those fateful 90 minutes. If John Kerry wins this election, he will have won it or, more precisely, President Bush will have lost it in Miami.

But the debates, interesting and revealing as they have been, have left unanswered questions of greater import than whether Bush is as skilled at debate as John Kerry. The questions are these:

How much blood and treasure are Americans willing to expend to maintain a pro-Western regime in Baghdad and bases in Iraq? And for how long? If our field commanders come to Bush or President-elect Kerry in November to say: We need 75,000 more combat troops in Iraq for the next two years to secure the country, will either man send the troops?

Americans are going into this election without having been told by either candidate how long we must fight, what the prospects are of success, what the ultimate cost will likely be, or how or when we can get out and come home.

We are going into this election not knowing how Bush or Kerry can carry out their pledge to cut in half a deficit of 4 percent of GDP. Both have proposed billions in spending, Kerry trillions. In 2008, the first wave of some 77 million baby boomers reaches early retirement at 62, full retirement by 2012.

For 18 years after 2012, baby boomers will cease paying into Social Security and Medicare and start drawing down those non-existent trust funds. Neither candidate has explained how the U.S. government can then be held to its current claim on 20 percent of our economy. We are sailing into the doldrums where Europe finds itself today.

The U.S. merchandise trade deficit this year is going to come in between $600 billion and $700 billion. With foreigners using dollars we send abroad for cheap goods to buy up our stocks, bonds and T-bills, our current account deficit is soaring. Wise Americans like Warren Buffett are now betting on a fall of the dollar. And a falling dollar means a weaker, poorer, less-respected America.

Yet, neither candidate has advanced a credible policy to erase our trade deficit or stop the export of factories, plants, jobs and technology. If it's good for the Global Economy, it's good for America seems to be our mantra. The Chinese, however, who are holding down the value of their currency to hollow out the U.S. industrial base as they build up theirs seem to consider us fools.

In the Phoenix debate, neither Bush nor Kerry advanced a plan to stop the invasion from Mexico by 4,000 illegal aliens every day. The majority of immigrants, legal and illegal, are now from Asia, Africa and Latin America. Almost all have incomes below the U.S. median. Almost all will depend for years on government services. Almost all will consume more in taxes than they will contribute. Almost all come from lands where there is no tradition of limited government. As Goldwaterite and Reaganite champions of small government pass away, the beneficiaries of Big Government enter the country to replace them.

America is on an unsustainable course. We cannot sustain an empire on an army of 480,000, nor sustain budget deficits of 4 percent of GDP and trade deficits of 6 percent without a collapse of the dollar, nor sustain the endless importation of impoverished peoples from the Third World without first bankrupting the country and finally losing the America we grew up in.

The election of 2004 may go down in history as one of the most exciting but one of the least relevant in arresting the inexorable decline and fall of the American Republic.

 

2004 Creators Syndicate, Inc.

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