One blessing likely to result from John Kerry’s rapid clenching of the Democratic presidential nomination is that Democrats will finally be forced to give us their solutions for the nation’s problems.
Up to this point, most of their candidates have fueled their campaign engines only with high-octane anti-Bush. Once Kerry becomes the putative nominee–assuming he isn’t there already–perhaps we’ll begin to see a fleshing out of his alternative proposals, instead of merely his empty criticisms.
A few questions that I’d like to see him answer are:
Health Care: Your party acts like it owns this issue, lamenting that we have over 40-million uninsured. You tell us, essentially, that your highest economic aspiration is to restore the Clinton economy, at which point we’ll be able to provide health insurance for nearly everyone.
But if you’ll recall, after Bill Clinton shamelessly exploited this issue against the first President Bush, he barely made a dent in the problem despite the considerable economic prosperity that coincided with his tenure. How will you be able to do more with a Clinton economy than the master himself could?
National Defense: In your incessant complaints about Iraq, you seem long on process and short on substance. You talk about the president’s failure to build a sufficient international coalition through “multilateralism.” How many resolutions would Iraq have had to violate and for how long for you to believe American military action was warranted–even without the participation of every nation whose blessings you seem to prefer over American security? Do you truly believe that any amount of persuasion would have convinced these intractable nations?
Let’s put it in terms you can better understand. Bush bent over backwards to set a new tone in trying to get along with your party, and you rebuffed him at every turn. If you Democrats won’t go along with him, and often aren’t even civil about it, what makes you think other nations with vastly different agendas would? And how in good conscience could you effectively entrust to other nations your constitutional duty of safeguarding America’s interests?
Stated more bluntly, do you believe America should ever act unilaterally to protect its strategic interests, or would your presidency defer those decisions to the United Nations, as you suggested in the 70s and seem to be repeating today?
In retrospect, despite your bellyaching about multilateralism and weapons of mass destruction, can you bring yourself to admit Iraq is better off without Saddam Hussein? Was ousting him a moral cause?
War on Terror: You say that George Bush hasn’t been effective in leading the war on terror and has diverted too many of our resources to Iraq. Do you base your claim on the fact that we routed the Taliban in short order despite your party’s predictions of quagmire, that we’ve captured or killed some two-thirds of known al Qaeda members, or that we haven’t been attacked again since Sept. 11, 2001? Or is it that you just have no confidence in our military and intelligence services?
Tax Populism: George Bush’s tax cuts, despite your rhetoric, were skewed against the rich — that is, the rich got a lesser percentage reduction. Why, then, do you mischaracterize them as “tax cuts for the wealthy?”
Budget: You complain about President Bush’s budget imbalances, yet if your plans are implemented on “health care, education and the environment,” not to mention others, Bush will look like a fiscal scrooge. Given that your tax increases are likely to retard the recovery, how are you going to balance the budget without dangerous reductions in defense spending?
Education: Since we have proof that throwing ever-increasing federal dollars at education doesn’t improve the quality of education, at what point will you quit demanding more? Is there any amount of domestic liberalism that Bush could implement that would satisfy you?
Leadership: I’ve noticed a disturbing pattern in your approach to issues. You have not only flip-flopped on the most important ones. You have tried to “nuance” your way out of your reversals, always using the same template. You voted for: NAFTA, the Patriot Act, No Child Left Behind, and the Iraq war resolution. On every one, you refuse to own up to your vote and insist it was not the legislation that was objectionable but the way it has been implemented. Doesn’t presidential leadership require you to own up to your decisions? What part of Harry Truman’s “the buck stops here” do you not understand?