The Bush edge — a matter of instinct

Liberal Washington Post columnist Sebastian Mallaby makes his case for re-electing President Bush. In doing so, he reaches the conclusions that, I think, swing voters as a class have reached or will reach. Thus, Mallaby provides a good explanation for why, more likely than not, the president will be re-elected.
Mallaby believes (as I suspect most Amercans do) that if we had known two years ago that Saddam Hussein’s weapons program had fallen apart, there would have been no convincing argument for war. He also thinks that, by insisting otherwise, President Bush has “made himself appear blind to reality.” But this is basically old news, as far as Mallaby is concerned. For him, “the question that matters in this election is: what next?”
Mallaby concludes that Bush has the better answer: “Bush offers a military vision, based on the idea that the best defense against terrorism is aggressive offense. He doggedly believes that by doing the ‘hard work’ in Iraq, the United States will eventually create a democracy, transforming Middle Eastern politics. He is determined not to let hostile global opinion get in the way.”
Kerry, for his part, “seems to reject most of this. He emphasizes homeland security [and] stresses the importance of allies, which necessarily implies accepting a check on preemption, however much he denies it.” And when it comes to Iraq, “Kerry’s ‘plan’ is a smoke screen. He says he would summon more help from allies, though little would be forthcoming. He says he would train Iraqi troops, but Bush is doing this already. If Kerry’s plan to share the burden fell apart, would he stay committed anyway? It seems fairly unlikely.”
Mallaby’s concluding lines should strike fear into the heart of all Kerry supporters: “If you are willing to read the tea leaves on how Bush and Kerry would prosecute the next phase in this war, then Bush comes out better. His gut instincts on terrorism are right — and Kerry, by assailing the president’s foreign policy record at every turn, seems to be saying that those instincts are not his own ones.”


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