I’ve heard, repeated, and believed the cynicism. I mean Kerry? A Massachusetts liberal? There’s no chance, right? He’s no Clinton. He’s a U.S. senator with an extensive voting record, which the fanged conservatives have studied like a Cantab studies for the MCATs. And of course Bush has all the money, all the good working Americans at Fox News, and all the advantages of being an incumbent during wartime. It seems the Dems are up a creek.
But then I had a revelation: the country is flirting with disaster and it’s George Bush’s fault. How could he possibly win again? There’s no chance John Kerry can lose. The election will be decided on two issues: security and the economy. Bush fails on both accounts, and it seems only logical that voters will kick him out.
Former White House counter-terrorism adviser Richard Clarke and his best-selling book are publicizing Bush’s softness prior to Sept. 11. This publicity is seriously damaging Bush’s security reputation, and the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States is helping quite a bit as well.
Since Sept. 11, Bush has made serious errors in the war on terror. First, the extended mistreatment of suspected terrorists has the consequence that many innocent Arabs are persecuted in Guantanamo Bay. This abuse has spurred hatred for our uncompromising hand of “justice” throughout the world. Second, Bush’s ideological approach, his us-versus-them mentality has polarized the world and solidified the hatred for America in Muslim countries that produce terrorists.
Some neoconservatives, such as David White “Rift between pre-and post-Sept. 11 perspectives will decide election” (4/5), may argue that we need the ideological stance to apprehend the terrorists. Nevertheless, a heavy-handed policy that disrupts the lives of peaceful people will create evildoers faster than we can bring them to our offshore bases. Al Qaeda has a new ideological friend: the neocon. The more we proselytize, the more fuel al Qaeda has for their own proselytizing.
If you don’t agree that Bush has messed up the war on terror, at least you can agree that the war on Iraq (not the war on terror because Iraq was a sovereign nation with no connections to al Qaeda) was a total debacle. No Weapons of Mass Destruction have turned up. Billions of dollars have been spent. No broad support has materialized from the international community. No liberated and free Iraq has emerged from the chaos of three warring ethnic groups amongst the ever-corrupting force of imperialism. Iraq is a disaster. It is our disaster. Bush made it ours when he used our money to pay his friends to make it happen. And we are angry. We will vote him out because of it.
Do you resent what happened in Iraq? The terrorists don’t. As Richard Clarke is explaining to America, the war on terror makes recruiting easier for al Qaeda. Americans are listening and will respond in the polls.
Our overextended military has caused overextended fiscal spending. This spending is accompanied by a recession and a reckless tax cut. The resulting fiscal black hole will plague our economy for years to come. A Feb. 23 report by senior economic analysts at the nonpartisan Washington think tank Brookings Institution shed light on the fiscal stupidities of the Bush administration. The report compares Bush’s fiscal spending to economic “crack cocaine,” providing a short burst of energy for the economy with a devastating economic “hangover” to come later. The study points out that our fiscal deficits are about 4 percent of the GDP, “well above levels considered sound by the International Monetary Fund and the European Union.” The report projects deficits of 3.5 percent of the GDP over the next ten years. At this rate, we will amass a dangerous amount of debt. The public is not stupid and voters will grasp the dire consequences of the fiscal imbalances of Bush’s policies.
The short-term economy is not recovering very well either. Although jobs may have begun to grow slightly, economic pessimism remains high among the American people, who continue to experience layoffs and pay cuts.
Bush has messed up a lot. Most importantly for the election, he has messed up the economy and the war on terror. Of course these problems are related, as our overextended military presence saps badly needed investment from productive endeavors.
Former White House counter-terrorism adviser Richard Clarke is enraged and talking about it. Prominent financier George Soros is enraged and talking about it. The American people are enraged. And that’s why Bush will lose.
Sam Taylor is a junior in Saybrook College.