July 29, 2004
POLITICS: What If He Wins?
Dean Esmay asks whether, if John Kerry were to win the election, conservatives will pledge not to launch the sort of ceaseless attacks on Kerry's credibility and his acts abroad that Bush's opponents have launched:
I will refuse to call him traitor, loser, liar, incompetent. He will be my President, my Commander In Chief, the Chief Executive of a great nation, elected by the will of a majority of the electors in these 50 great united States. So even if he does things I disagree with in conducting foreign policy, I will say, "I respectfully disagree with the President's directions, but I will do my best to express my dissent respectfully and hope that I am mistaken and that he has made the proper decisions after all."
Suspending for the moment my disbelief in Kerry's chances, I for one - like most conservatives - have a mixed reaction to that. Many of the attacks on Bush have been hand in hand with the propaganda of America's enemies: that Bush is a lying warmonger, disrespects our allies, disregards international institutions, etc. By contrast, conservative critiques of Kerry's foreign policy would almost certainly be from the opposite direction: that he'd be too timid, too deferential to corrupt and ineffectual international institutions, too reliant on paper promises of peace. Those are, of course, the exact opposite positions as those pushed by our enemies.
Unlike the Clinton years, conservatives are united in a vision of what our foreign policy should be; as in the Cold War, expect me and other conservatives to rip Kerry if he fails to pursue that policy aggressively, but not to run around screaming that "Kerry lied, people died" if he takes firm action against the nation's sworn enemies. I don't expect to be accusing him of "wagging the dog" or screaming about dead civilians in foreign wars or accusing him of selling his foreign policy to big American corporations.
Liar? Well, Kerry usual avoids lying by avoiding saying anything with any factual content, but if he lies, yeah, I'll call him on it. I think Kerry's fairly contemptible in a number of ways (more on that tomorrow), but I don't expect to reach the level of bile of somebody like Atrios or Kos or Oliver Willis in indicting Kerry's whole party as a bunch of criminals; that's a stupid oversimplification that just makes it harder to have a dialogue.
On the other hand, I certainly would support an absolute refusal to allow Senate votes on any Kerry judicial nominee an inch to the left of Sandra Day O'Connor. Kerry and Edwards made that bed, if they win they deserve to sleep in it.
If there are questions raised about scandals, I'll certainly keep my eye on them, but I wouldn't expect to reach the level of venom directed at Bush on the flimsiest of evidence.
If Kerry were to take the nation to war, I'd be behind him 100%, no "buts" and no cheering for setbacks.
"If Kerry were to take the nation to war, I'd be behind him 100%, no "buts" and no cheering for setbacks."
Your last comment summarizes the worst of the behavior of the Michael Moore/Ted Kennedy wing of the opposition party. Unfortunately that end is the dominant wing of the Dems. Joe Lieberman is ignored by the party for being an adult and thinking of country before party.
Not sure about the notion that conservatives are wholly united on foreign policy. I think there is a fairly significant divide among traditional realists who advocate straight power politics and more idealistic types like Wolfowitz who advocate spreading democracy, etc… It’s just that the debate seems to be largely off-stage. What’s interesting to me is that the harshest criticism from the left, to the extent it has any logical consistency, seems to aim at the idealists.
Where Kerry really stands, who knows? Right now, this JFK’s foreign policy instincts appear to be to complain about any price, shift any burden, dodge any hardship, badmouth any friend and appease or coddle any foe (or at least any intransigent “ally”).
But if he wins, he’ll be our President after all and will deserve our support at the water’s edge, as Americans used to say. There’s very serious work that needs to be done out there, whether or not it’s Bush, Kerry or someone else doing it.
I get the distinct impression here that how the left has behaved the last four years is somehow worse than how the right behaved the previous eight.
Its as if the right never once blocked a judicial nominee during Clinton's term.
No. Actually, its worse. I get the sense that you realize the right did block judicial nominees, but they get a free ride on the issue because at least their reasons for doing so were legitimate.
Conservatives good, liberals bad.
And if the Conservatives behave badly for some reason, at least they had a legitimate reason for doing so.
PS - If Kerry took the nation to war for the wrong reasons, I would not be behind him 100%.
Giddy: "Conservatives good, liberals bad".
Exactly! Glad you've seen the light.
The Republicans never blocked a judicial nominee who had the votes to win on the floor, as the Dems have done repeatedly.
"The Republicans never blocked a judicial nominee who had the votes to win on the floor, as the Dems have done repeatedly. "
I'm not so sure about that.
Here's a conservative, pro-life website that [recommended] fillibustering Clinton's judicial nominees. Inhofe was apparently responisble for this action.
I don't know how well this fillibuster succeeded, but it was attempted, and targeted [all] of Clinton's nominees. Even the current Democratic senators haven't gone that far; most of Bush's nominees have in fact been confirmed. Around the time of the major controversy, it was 168 to 4 (a 99% approval rating).
Actually, I agree that some of the filibusters on Bush's nominees shouldn't have been made. Estrada should have been confirmed(he was the one who had a positive ABA recommendation, right?), and perhaps Pickering. Yet, none of the fillibustered nominees were treated as badly as the Republicans treated Ronnie White.
Correction: different sources say six were blocked. Either way, the vast majority of Bush's nominees have been approved.
Whoops, I forgot to desribe the names mentioned;
(pardon my reposting, I'm new to blogging).
Richard Paez was one of the judges Inhofe tried to block; he eventually was confirmed, but [only] four years after Clinton nominated him.
David Satcher wasn't a judge, but a nominee for Surgeon General that Ashcroft, as Senator, tried to block.
I don't believe anyone should pledge not to be critical of any of our leaders. A democracy is based on open disucssion of facts and policies, and if conservatives as a whole or any particular conservative has a bone to pick with any politician, left or right, they shouldn't be censored, by their self or by their party members. I also don't believe anyone should have to swear themselves off of baseless or trashy ad hominem attacks, because they shouldn't be used at all, and admonished by both sides. If you have to resort to namecalling to win an argument, they you don't have the strength in ideas to be in the argument. What I'm trying to say is there is a huge difference between calling our president a war monger, and criticizing that our president took us to war without letting the weapons inspectors finish their jobs, and sending in our troops without finding any of the weapons in Iraq, and therefore diverted resources away from our original mission in Afghanistan. If Kerry were to be elected, and he made a mistake in decision making, then I would wholly expect his opponents to attack him on it, but would disagree with him being called wishy washy or a flip flopper.