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Andrew Sullivan: Kerry: the right choice for conservatives (VOMIT TILL YOU DIE ALERT)
The Sunday Times ^ | July 25, 2004 | Andrew Sullivan

Posted on 07/24/2004 4:32:41 PM PDT by MadIvan

If you are a conservative, whom should you be rooting for in the American elections? I am not being entirely facetious here. The conservative “movement” in the United States is still firmly behind the re- election of President George W Bush. He uses conservative rhetoric — taking the war to the enemy, upholding conservative social values, respecting religious faith, protecting the family and so on.

He is widely regarded as one of the most conservative presidents in recent history — rivalling Reagan, eclipsing his own father in right-wing bona fides. And yet if you decouple the notion of being a conservative from being a Republican, nobody can doubt that the Bush administration has been pursuing some highly unconservative policies.

Start with the war. Almost overnight after 9/11 Bush junked decades of American policy in the Middle East, abandoning attempts to manage Arab autocracies for the sake of the oil supply and instead forging a policy of radical democratisation. He invaded two countries and is trying to convert them to modern democracies.

Nothing so liberal has been attempted in a long time. In the 2000 campaign, Bush mocked the idea of “nation building” as liberal claptrap. Now it’s the centrepiece of his administration. The fact that anti-American lefties despise the attempt to democratise foreign countries should not disguise the fact that Bush is, in this respect, indisputably a foreign policy liberal. He has shown none of his father’s caution, no interest in old-style realpolitik.

At home Bush has been just as radical. He has junked decades of conservative attempts to restrain government and pushed federal spending to record levels, dismissing the idea that this will have damaging consequences. He has poured money into agricultural subsidies, he famously put tariffs on foreign steel, he has expanded the healthcare programme and increased the role of central government in education.

He has little or no concern for the separation of church and state, funnelling public money to religious charities, and he has appointed some of the most radical jurists to the federal bench. Just try finding a coherent theme in Bush Republicanism. It is in fact one of the most ramshackle distillations of political expediency ever tarted up as an “ism”.

There has also been, it’s safe to say, a remarkable recklessness in Bush’s approach. Was it really necessary to insist that the Geneva conventions do not apply to detainees in the war on terror?

When so many people warned that the hardest task in Iraq would be what happened after the fall of Baghdad, was it sensible to junk all the carefully written government reports for reconstruction and wing it? Was it wise to brag in the days after the first military victory in Iraq that it was “mission accomplished”? When the insurgency was growing, was it sensible to apply the methods of Guantanamo Bay to the hundreds of petty criminals and innocents hauled into Abu Ghraib?

At almost every juncture where prudence might have been called for, Bush opted for winging it. This approach can scarcely be called conservative.

So where is conservatism to be found? Maybe you should cast a glance at Boston, where this week the Democratic convention will anoint one John Forbes Kerry, a northeastern patrician who is fast becoming the eastern establishment’s favourite son.

Yes, Kerry’s record on spending, defence and social policy has been liberal. But that is not the theme of his campaign. Kerry says he is as dedicated to seeing through nation building in Iraq and Afghanistan as Bush. But where Bush has scrapped America’s long-standing military doctrine of attacking only when attacked, Kerry prefers the old, strictly defensive doctrine.

Where Bush has clearly placed American national interest above international concerns, Kerry demands that the old alliances — even with old Europe — need to be strengthened. Kerry insists that he is a fiscal conservative, aiming to reduce the deficit by tax increases. He has argued that stability in some parts of the world should take precedence over democracy or human rights.

He opposes amending the constitution and supports legal abortion, the status quo that Bush wants to reverse. He has spent decades in the Senate building an undistinguished but nuanced record. He is a war veteran who plays up his record of public service. He’s a church-going Catholic who finds discussion of religious faith unseemly in public. In the primaries he was the safe establishment bore compared with radicals such as Howard Dean and the populist charmer John Edwards.

His basic message: let’s return to “normalcy”. The radicalism of the past four years needs tempering. We need to consolidate nation building in Iraq and Afghanistan before any new adventures in, say, Iran. We need to return to the diplomatic obeisance to the United Nations. We should stop referring to a “war” on terror and return to pre-9/11 notions of terrorism, best dealt with by police work in co-ordination with our democratic allies.

At home we need to restrain the unruly religious right. We must balance the budget again. We need to redress some of the social and economic inequality that has so intensified during these past few years. Kerry’s biggest proposal — one sure to be modified by Congress — is a large increase in the number of people with health insurance. It’s far more modest than that proposed by Bill and Hillary Clinton a decade ago.

Does that make Kerry right and Bush wrong? On the most fundamental matter, ie the war, I think Bush has been basically right: right to see the danger posed by Saddam Hussein and the nexus of weapons of mass destruction and Islamist terror; right to realise that the French would never have acquiesced to ridding the world of Saddam; right to endorse the notion of pre-emption in a world of new and grave dangers.

Much of the hard work has now been done. Nobody seriously believes that Bush will start another war. And in some ways Kerry may be better suited to the difficult task of nation building than Bush.

At home Bush has done much to destroy the coherence of a conservative philosophy of American government and he has been almost criminally reckless in his conduct of the war. He and America will never live down the intelligence debacle of the missing WMDs. He and America will be hard put to regain the moral high ground after Abu Ghraib.

The argument that Kerry must make is that he can continue the war but without Bush’s polarising recklessness. And at home he must reassure Americans that he is the centrist candidate, controlled neither by the foaming Michael Moore left nor by the vitriolic religious right.

Put all that together and I may not find myself the only conservative moving slowly and reluctantly towards the notion that Kerry may be the right man — and the conservative choice — for a difficult and perilous time.


TOPICS: Editorial; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; US: Massachusetts
KEYWORDS: allgayallthetime; barebackrider; conservative; delusionalhomo; gayvote; hivpositivecatcher; homosexualagenda; homosforkerry; jizswallower; kerry; liberal; syphillisdamagedas
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Andrew is merely upset that Bush tried to push through the new constitutional amendment defending marriage. Andrew, really, there are more important things in life than you wanting to get married to another man - this is blinding you to Kerry's deficiencies and exaggerating Bush's defects. Terrorists do not respect anything less than total resolve - and President Bush has that in abundance. You ought to be bloody ashamed.

Regards, Ivan


1 posted on 07/24/2004 4:32:44 PM PDT by MadIvan
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To: agrace; lightingguy; EggsAckley; dinasour; AngloSaxon; Dont Mention the War; KangarooJacqui; ...

Ping!


2 posted on 07/24/2004 4:33:38 PM PDT by MadIvan (Gothic. Freaky. Conservative. - http://www.rightgoths.com/)
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Comment #3 Removed by Moderator

To: MadIvan

Boycott his blog! I stopped visiting his site earlier this year when he started to become anti-Bush over gay marriage issue. He is a well known homosexual with AIDS.


4 posted on 07/24/2004 4:36:08 PM PDT by Cableguy
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To: MadIvan
Very nicely put, Ivan. I used to read Sullivan because of his well thought-out and well-stated content. Once it became gay-marriage all the time, the thought seemed to go out the window and it was no longer an enjoyable read.

What is interesting is this attacks Bush's foreign policy, something which Sullivan cheered on until only recently.

Gum

5 posted on 07/24/2004 4:37:29 PM PDT by ChewedGum (aka King of Fools)
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To: MadIvan

I stopped reading Princess Andrew a long while ago, when I found out just how much of a perv he truly is.


6 posted on 07/24/2004 4:37:49 PM PDT by Old Sarge ("There may be some talking, but Soldiers arenít walking" - Army Retention at 100%)
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To: MadIvan

Yep, it's all about fudge.


7 posted on 07/24/2004 4:37:51 PM PDT by Jeff Chandler (Do Chernobyl restaurants serve Curied chicken?)
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Comment #8 Removed by Moderator

To: MadIvan

I like Sullivan, but even more than Hitchens, I never have ANY certainty that I know how he would think on any particular issue. He ALWAYS surprises me. Not a bad thing. Just means he's an individual.


9 posted on 07/24/2004 4:39:00 PM PDT by willyboyishere (ua)
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To: MadIvan

I like Sullivan, but even more than Hitchens, I never have ANY certainty that I know how he would think on any particular issue. He ALWAYS surprises me. Not a bad thing. Just means he's an individual.


10 posted on 07/24/2004 4:39:08 PM PDT by willyboyishere (ua)
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To: MadIvan

I'm hoping this is mostly tongue-in-cheek.


11 posted on 07/24/2004 4:40:23 PM PDT by nuconvert (Had this been an actual emergency, we would have fled in terror and you wouldn't have been notified.)
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To: MadIvan

His title should be

Kerry: the right choice for homosexuals


12 posted on 07/24/2004 4:40:57 PM PDT by Cableguy
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To: nwrep
He is thinking with the wrong head. Again.

If the left, homoesexuals, etc. are so passionate about their right to marry, then why not ask it to be put to a national vote? Let the American public decide.

13 posted on 07/24/2004 4:43:08 PM PDT by rintense (Free the Soxdox!)
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To: MadIvan
If John Kerry's the right choice for conservatives then the Liberals are all voting, financing, and campaigning for the wrong choice.
14 posted on 07/24/2004 4:43:42 PM PDT by Dave Burns
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To: nuconvert

Maybe that wasn't a good phrase to use here..........


15 posted on 07/24/2004 4:43:42 PM PDT by nuconvert ( Everyone is entitled to be stupid, but some abuse the privilege.)
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To: MadIvan
If John Kerry's the right choice for conservatives then the Liberals are all voting, financing, and campaigning for the wrong choice.
16 posted on 07/24/2004 4:44:04 PM PDT by Dave Burns
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To: MadIvan
A thoroughly disingenuous piece. Sullivan hasn't bitched about Bush being reckless before. Now suddenly he does. What he bitched about was that Bush was too craven to the religious right when it came to gays. Why doesn't Sullivan just admit that he gives that one issue huge weight, and since he doesn't see much difference between Bush and Kerry on other issues, he is just free to vote based on the gay issue? Wouldn't that be a tad more honest, than all the tendentious bridgework about "recklessness?"

Andrew, I hate it that you have become something of a liar. I thought better of you. I don't mind it much when you annoy "conservatives," I annoy them often myself, but I do mind when you just become another contributor to the tangled web, intending to deceive.

17 posted on 07/24/2004 4:44:24 PM PDT by Torie
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To: MadIvan

Wonder if the old barebacker is dating David Brock?


18 posted on 07/24/2004 4:46:43 PM PDT by hang 'em (THIS JUST IN: Kerry/Edwards get the long awaited, crucial NAMBLA endorsement!!!!!!!)
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To: MadIvan

You see, folks, it is all about gay marriage. When Bush went against gay marriage, Sullivan went against Bush.


19 posted on 07/24/2004 4:47:57 PM PDT by gilliam
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To: MadIvan

There are some valid criticisms of Bush but deciding that the correct response is to support Kerry is like choosing amputation to treat a hangnail.


20 posted on 07/24/2004 4:48:17 PM PDT by Tall_Texan (Ronald Reagan - Greatest President of the 20th Century.)
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