We know that not all Kerry voters are primarily voting against Bush; and we know some Bush voters would vote for Bush no matter what. But in my opinion this cartoon captures what is motivating the large majority of voters on both sides. For Bush voters, fighting terrorism is the priority; for Kerry voters, fighting Bush is the priority.
I voted for Bush last week. Regular readers know that I have little good to say about Kerry's proposed policies. They also know that I've been critical of Bush's halting, apologetic pursuit of the war on terror (our first cartoon on that subject was in November 2001).
But because Bush correctly identified state-sponsors of terrorism as a primary target, and then followed through with deposing two terror-sponsoring regimes, and because Kerry has offered no alternative except to pursue the war more multilaterally (that is, commit the same mistakes Bush has made but as a matter of principle), and worse still, because Kerry would treat terrorism as a fundamentally criminal enterprise rather than the war it is, Bush remains the only short-term hope of holding back if not stopping Islamist terrorists and theocrats who threaten American and her allies. If re-elected, it would remain to be seen if Bush would prosecute the war as it should be. But he's the only candidate to come close to pursuing the correct course.
Two recent editorials do a much better job than I could of explaining why Bush should be supported with qualifications. The first is by TIA Daily's Robert Tracinski: Anti-Bushites for Bush.
Kerry may not be the "perfect" candidate of the enemies of civilization -- but he is their candidate, nonetheless, and he must be defeated. Bush is far from being the perfect candidate for those who want a vigorous defense of civilization against murderous Islamic fanatics. But he is our candidate, such as he is, and he deserves our support. ...
September 11 demonstrated that it is necessary to topple and destroy the Middle Eastern regimes that use terrorism as a weapon against the West -- the principle behind the Bush Doctrine. The administration has applied that doctrine to two regimes, and they deserve credit for it. But even that is not enough, over the long term. Even if our leaders applied the Bush doctrine consistently (against Iran and Syria, for example) and backed it up with the maximum force available, that would still leave the question: then what? What would prevent the re-emergence of new terrorist regimes to replace the old ones?
The only long-term answer is that the Arab and Muslim worlds must be civilized. They must have imposed on them a better system of government, one that allows, for the first time in the Arab world, the material vibrancy of a relatively free economy and the spiritual vibrancy of the free exchange of ideas. This would do exactly what the clashing examples of East Berlin and West Berlin did in the Cold War: it would provide an unanswerable demonstration of the benefits of a free society on one side, contrasted to misery and oppression on the other side. It is, in my view, the most important thing that can be done in the military and political realm to defeat the philosophy that animates Islamic terrorism. ...
The choice, in short, is this. George Bush is a candidate who stands for a vigorous projection of American power to reshape the political structure of the Middle East, destroying the political underpinnings of Islamic terrorism -- but whose execution of that goal is continually undercut by compromise and appeasement. John Kerry is a candidate who stands for American withdrawal and passivity -- for whom any expression of American strength would be an act of compromise and appeasement.
George W. Bush cannot be trusted to fight the war properly, but John Kerry can be trusted to retreat.
Also, from Harry Binswanger: Vote for President Bush.
The Bush doctrine, for all its timid, bumbling, and altruism-laced implementation, intends America to act, to use its military might offensively, even when half the world protests against it. Kerry's "instincts" are to negotiate, conciliate, and retreat.
It has been clear from the beginning of this overly long campaign that Kerry's fixation on "working with allies" does not represent a concern with any practical benefit to be attained but is an expression of his anti-American, anti-war views -- views essentially unchanged from his anti-Vietnam War days. Contrary to some of his more recent statements, Kerry does not think that Iraq in particular was "the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time": he thinks any military self-assertion by America is wrong.
I agree with both authors' contention that Bush's religiosity is a concern but not one that trumps the war.
Hopefully whoever wins Nov. 2 will do so by a wide margin. I, for one, do not want this presidential election to drag on like the last one.
UPDATE -- November 2: This cartoon appears in today's (Tuesday's) Investor's Business Daily.
Try TIA Daily for FREE: