Monday, February 09, 2004

I am now convinced that America is likely to be condemned to four more years with Mr. Bush as its president. The Democrats are almost certain to choose Sen. John Kerry as its nominee. While I suspect Gen. Clark, Sen. Edwards or even Gov. Dean would've given the president a difficult time, Sen. Kerry is likely to lose convincingly to Pres. Bush unless something dramatic happens.

This is ironic since Kerry presented himself as the "pragmatic" choice to Democrats who were attracted to Dean's straight-forwardness but thought his temperment was a liability. Now, instead of the firebrand, we've got the cure for insomnia.

It would be nice to believe personality doesn't matter in politics. It would be comforting to believe that issues were the only thing that mattered. Except reality is otherwise. The policy differences between most of the Democratic candidates really isn't that great. What separates them is style. Kerry is wooden (or presidential, depending on whom you ask). Dean is tempermental (or passionate). Lieberman was self-righteous (or resolute).

Personality is linked to credibility. And credibility is an essential part of leadership. Leadership is not just saying the words, but making people believe you. LEADership means LEADing. Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan had very similiar positions on matters of policy. Yet one was able to convince people to entrust him with the presidency of the United States and the other wasn't.

President Bush's governing style is highly personal. It's not based on him spending a lot of time trying to convince you he's right. It's based on trusting his judgement. If you do trust him, you think he's great. If you don't trust him, you think he's awful. If you trust him, he's strong and has resolve. If you don't trust him, he's inflexible and has a Messiah complex. The personal style doesn't leave room for middle ground.

I don't see that John Kerry has the credibility to challenge this president. When the consumate political insider like him promises to root out special interests, it sounds hollow. Just like when then-candidate Al Gore used his phony "the people vs the powerful" line in 2000. He was vice-president of the United States; he was a US senator and a son of a US senator. He WAS the powerful. This helped lose him credibility and votes.

Kerry voted for the invasion of Iraq but is now criticizing the president's handling of it all, which could be fair under other circumstances. But Kerry claims he was mislead by the president into supporting the war. If true, this means Kerry is gullible. It means his judgement is little better than the president he proposes to replace. If not true, then it means he cast his pro-war vote for tactical reasons. It means he was opportunistic which hurts his credibility even more.

The Democratic nominee needs to be able challenge the president's policies, positions and actions and to present a compelling alternative. If he doesn't have the credibility to mount that challenge, he has no chance of winning in November. I'm afraid Kerry doesn't have that credibility.

For years, we've been told to support the lesser of two evils come election time. The lesser of two evils is still an evil. If you settle for the lesser of two evils, that's all you're ever going to get. This is why we've been rewarded with is continual mediocrity. Because we choose to accept it.

For years, we've said we wanted politicians to be straight with us, but those who've done so have been rewarded with electoral defeat or public humiliation. Americans said we wanted smaller government, but when Newt Gingrich tried to give it to us, he was burnt at the stake. Don't you think other politicians got the lesson?

Thomas Jefferson said, "People tend to get the kind of government they deserve."

Unfortunately, he was right.

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