Came across this today – very well written argument to non-loony Democrats to vote for Bush:
Let’s say you’re a yellow dog Democrat, a patriot, a thoughtful person for whom the world changed on 9/11. Zell Miller’s impassioned rant at the RNC didn’t strike any responsive chords for you. You supported the war in Afghanistan and you’re cautiously optimistic at having seen the successful elections that just took place there. You don’t like the Republican positions on social issues, but you do recognize that this election is, and ought to be, first and foremost about foreign policy and domestic security issues. You aren’t an appeaser; you know and appreciate quite a bit of history; you’re not reflexively against any and all use of America’s military power.
You’re deeply troubled, though, about Iraq; you think it is a big deal that we didn’t find stockpiles of WMDs there; and something about George W. Bush just flat rubs you the wrong way. You think all the SwiftVets’ stuff is irrelevant ancient history; you think there’s not much difference between Kerry misspeaking about the “global test” and Bush misspeaking about the war on terror not being winnable; and besides, you take it as an article of faith that all politicians lie during campaigns.
John Kerry, you’re thinking, couldn’t do much worse in prosecuting the Global War on Terror (or maybe you reject that characterization, in which case, let’s just call it “fighting the terrorists.”) You’re inclined to take him at face value when he says he’ll hunt down and kill the terrorists, and that he’ll fight a smarter, more effective war fight. You’re giving him the benefit of the doubt on the “character” issue.
My question to you, my thoughtful, principled friend of the center-left, is this: How is John Kerry going to be able to resolve his fundamental dilemma if he’s elected?
“What fundamental dilemma?” you ask. Well, look at your fellow Kerry voters. Look at the Democratic Party; look at its congressmen and senators; look at its policy wonks and think-tankers and fundraisers and likely appointees to key posts, on both domestic and foreign/military policy positions. We’ve established already that you’re not a barking moonbat yourself. Surely, though, you can see them around you in the Kerry queue, can’t you?
Then in your best-case scenario, my friend, you’ll be electing another man who’ll be immediately thrust into the position Lyndon Johnson was in as of January 1968 ? a man who from the first day of his presidency will be faced by incredible pressures from within his own party, from many of his own advisers and fundraisers and legislators, to do exactly the opposite of what you are counting on Kerry to do.
If John Kerry keeps his promises to “fight for this country” ? if he keeps his promise not to cut and run in Iraq, for instance ? then he’s going to seriously piss off, indeed to completely alienate, somewhere between a quarter and half of the people who’ve voted for him, and probably a much larger percentage of his intelligensia, fundraisers, and activists. If we’re not out of Iraq come next July, there’s going to be a boom market in “Dean '08” bumper stickers. Because just like you’re working on the assumption that when elected, Kerry will indeed take the fight to the enemy, they’re working on the assumption that when elected, Kerry’s going to get us out of the “wrong war at the wrong place at the wrong time.” You and the moonbats can’t both be right about what Kerry will do. Can we agree on that much, surely? Can we agree that the straddle that might succeed in getting Kerry into the White House can’t last once he’s there?
Johnson’s dilemma, of course, ended up never being efffectively resolved. Instead, it crippled his presidency and destroyed him as a leader ? as a world leader, a national leader, even as a leader in his own party. It led him to withdraw from the 1968 presidential race three years after winning a historic landslide. It put Richard Nixon in the White House (a memory that still makes you shudder convulsively). That was before Bill Clinton perfected the idea of the “perpetual campaign,” when newly elected leaders actually hoped to govern and lead based on their mandate from the last election for a while before beginning the compromises necessary for the next one.
And LBJ had a solidly Democratic Congress, and demonstrated, unparalleled skills in manipulating it, which a President Kerry certainly won’t have. For John Kerry to fulfill your vision for his presidency ? for him to run a “smarter, more effective” fight against the terrorists ? he’s not only going to have to fade the heat from the Howard Dean wing of the Democratic Party, he’s going to have to line up and make effective use of Republican allies. He’s going to have to be slicker than Bill Clinton ever dreamed of being, and he’s going to have to dance not with them what brung him, but with them what his former dance partners (who’ll be screaming “backstabber!”) believe to be devils incarnate. He’ll need more votes than just John McCain’s ? you know that, don’t you?
I know plenty of smart people who, on domestic matters, would be delighted to see our country return to the days of divided government. Arguably that creates a tension that keeps all but the middle-of-the-road legislation from getting through; stuff either has to be genuinely bipartisan, or else have veto-proof support to get passed. Arguably, divided government leads to Clintonesque triangulation, which some folks near the political center, from only slightly to one side or the other, think is an okay thing.
But stalemate is not an okay thing in foreign policy matters and security matters. You know this in your heart, don’t you? You know that a conflicted warrior, a half-hearted warrior, a timid warrior, is really no warrior at all.
I respect your position, my friend. I wish there were more of you in your party, and that if Sen. Kerry is elected, that he could count on you and those like you, plus sympathetic (non-wingnut) Republicans, to give him an effective working coalition to continue prosecuting the fight against the terrorists. But I ask you ? before you pull the lever (or touch the button, whatever) that will be your part to play in deciding how America fights the terrorists for the next four years ? do you think John Kerry is up to the task that Lyndon Johnson failed at so miserably? Are you being realistic when you think that President Kerry is going to defeat the terrorists and the peace-at-any-price wing of the Democratic Party? And are you willing to accept the consequences for our country if your hopes, and Kerry’s presidency, are frustrated?
I know you’re profoundly ill at ease with the way things have been going. As a Democrat, you would have to hold your nose and grit your teeth to pull the lever for Bush, and you don’t want to do it. You want to feel like you’re voting for someone. You want to feel like your vote is an expression of hope, and for whatever reasons, Dubya doesn’t make you feel hopeful. But let’s not kid each other. You are clear-eyed enough to know that if Dubya’s re-elected, he is going to do his damnedest ? perhaps without the finesse you’d like to see, perhaps with what you think are some huge blunders along the way ? to win the fight against the terrorists. Dubya is a known quantity. Are you willing to gamble that you’re right, and the moonbats are wrong, about Kerry’s core convictions, and that he’ll be a more effective leader than LBJ when he disappoints those moonbats?
You, my friend, understand the stakes. I’ll respect your decision if you take the gamble; I won’t question your patriotism if it doesn’t pay off. In fact, if your gamble doesn’t pay off, your harshest critic in hindsight won’t be me ? it’ll be yourself.