Election campaign nears end
As election day approaches, our collective anxiety about terrorism increases. Aside from proving he's really alive, Osama bin Laden's videotape had the healthy effect of getting Senator Kerry to call the enemy by their rightful name: "barbarians." The fact that he's worried [about] a mere media appearance by the Al Qaeda leader -- as opposed to an actual attack -- suggests that Kerry and perhaps many Democrats have been pinning their hopes on Al Qaeda remaining out of the picture. Bin Laden's message laid equal guilt at the hands of Bush and Kerry, and while he probably sees no significant difference between the two, the election will still make a big difference in how the war is fought, and terrorists can hardly be neutral. Besides, they need to show they have clout -- by influencing foreign decisions -- in order to recruit new members.
Missing explosives update: Senator Kerry has harped on the alleged stolen high explosives in the final days of the campaign, even though his aides admit that no one knows the full story yet. To me, that shows desperation, and it gave President Bush a great rhetorical opportunity:
This week Senator Kerry is again attacking the actions of our military in Iraq, with complete disregard for the facts. Senator Kerry will say anything to get elected. The Senator's willingness to trade principle for political convenience makes it clear that John Kerry is the wrong man for the wrong job, at the wrong time. (via www.georgewbush.com)
As expected, Daniel Drezner also endorsed Kerry, based on what he believes was the incompetent way the postwar pacification was handled. Interestingly, however, I've just learned that the newspaper in John Kerry's hometown -- the Lowell Sun -- has endorsed President Bush. The title says it all: "It's about national security." Christopher Hitchens gave a weak endorsement to Bush in The Nation, after a cryptic and equivocal rejection of Bush in Slate. Well, I can certainly understand ambivalent feelings about Bush.
I just finished a book that expresses in fine detail how the Left views the upsurge of the Right over the past 25 years. It's What's the Matter With Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America, by Thomas Frank. I saw him on C-SPAN2 a few weeks ago, and he seemed reasonable enough. I was immediately taken aback, however, by the razor-sharp rhetoric and comments such as the "borderline criminality of capitalism itself..." Hello, Comrade! The fact that poorer, rural areas have come to vote Republican on a habitual basis contrary to what he believes is in "their fundamental interests" is evidence of widespread "derangement" which "is the bedrock of our civic order..." (Gosh! I'll have to tell that to folks here in Staunton; I'm sure they'll be thrilled to know that.) Raised in Kansas but frustrated as a young adult, Frank seethes with resentment toward the economic elite, while denying the existence of a liberal cultural elite. He probably couldn't grasp the irony that his book is a perfect example of the arrogant presumptiveness of the liberal elite. I did learn some interesting details on conservatives from Kansas, such as Sen. Sam Brownback and the Koch family, and on the issue of abortion in the early 1990s. I would agree it was too bad Republican moderates were overtaken by fundamentalist zealots. I'm all too familiar with the dying small towns across the prairies which he decries, but he glosses over the fact that these changes began long before the Reagan Revolution. Why on earth can't he at least acknowledge the possibility that two generations of urban-driven Democratic labor-union machine politics created huge distortions in our economy that were prejudicial to agrarian interests? His epilogue betrays what I see as the fatal flaw of many in the Left today: bitter, fatalistic resignation to impending doom: "Kansas is ready to lead us singing into the apocalypse." The fact that radical ideologues such as Frank who pose as scholarly analysts are gaining credence in mainstream circles these days is sadly indicative of the recent tilt toward the Left on the American political landscape. It is also a sign of fierce political battles to come.
I was driving around town a few days ago, and decided to keep a rough tally of the political yard signs. Staunton is solid "red" (conservative, not socialist) country, so I expected a majority of Bush-Cheney signs. To my surprise, there were more than twice as many Kerry-Edwards signs: 50 to 24. Does this portend an upset win for Kerry in the Old Dominion? More likely it's an indication that all those reports we've been getting of stolen Bush-Cheney signs being stolen are true. We'll see. Democrats' support seems much stronger in upper-income neighborhoods. Speaking of stolen signs, a Democratic activist from North Carolina was arrested for theft and trespassing after he was videotaped stealing Bush-Cheney sign from a location where there had been at least two previous thefts. What are the Democrats doing with all those stolen signs? I hope they are at least recycling them properly.
GOP rally in Staunton!
Congressman Bob Goodlatte and Attorney General Jerry Kilgore spoke to an enthusiastic crowd of well over 100 supporters at the Republican headquarters yesterday afternoon. For photos, see swacgop.org.