The Moment of Truth
O.K., here's what this pivotal moment in our nation's history really means: Do we have enough confidence in the values that bind us together as a nation to recognize the barbarian challenge for what it is, or will we simply shrug and shuffle away with our figurative tails between our legs? Because I am an unabashed believer in all the good that America stands for (though acknowledging our blemishes), I am sticking to my hunch that Bush will end up with a slight majority in the nationwide popular vote. Voting for Bush is an expression of resolve and solidarity, the vital psychological underpinning upon which our national security depends. I liken this moment to the early 1980s when there were huge protests against the deployment of U.S. cruise missiles and Pershing II missiles in Western Europe. Nevertheless, elections in several NATO countries in effect ratified President Reagan's buildup, which nullified the Soviet nuclear advantage and ultimately played a huge part in ending the Cold War. Senator Kerry, in case you don't recall, was a staunch opponent of the Reagan foreign policy, wrong as usual when it comes to security matters. He talks tough about "hunting down" Al Qaeda, but he acts as though he had a spine of rubber. Mortal danger has the healthy effect of focusing one's mind on how to survive, and I think enough American people are aware that we are close to that point. I will give Kerry my (conditional) support if he is elected, since we simply must stand together in this time of peril, but I will tremble for the fate of this great nation if and when his hands are on the wheel of the Ship of State.
Larry Sabato's last Crystal Ball before the election hints at a slight edge for Kerry, depending on the turnout, since no incumbent has ever won an election without a clear lead in the polls. He foresees a 269-269 tie in the Electoral College, in which case the GOP-controlled House would choose the president. How will the Democrats react in that case? Armies of lawyers are standing by.
Good news for Bush: Reds' Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench endorsed him at a huge rally last night at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, where I saw a game back in August. The estimated attendance was 40,000. (I would have guessed more like 30,000, given that most of the upper deck was empty.) Bush appeared calm and confident, and that kind of event might be enough to tip the Ohio vote into his column. Kerry, however, has seemed strained and nervous, and positively silly when he wears that Red Sox cap. By the way, where is Mrs. Heinz Kerry these days? Locked up in a luxury suite in BelAir, or Bermuda, perhaps?
Rush Limbaugh raised a good point today: the Redskins don't play in Washington any more (FedEx Field is actually in Landover, Maryland), so that old superstition about incumbent presidents losing elections no longer applies.
Given all the nice things I've said about him, this is probably a good moment to review Bush's major failures and shortcomings.
- Not telling the American people how arduous the war would be, or asking them to make material sacrifices.
- Not asking Congress for a formal declaration of war against Iraq, in lieu of U.N. authorization.
- Not making enough gestures of respect for the Iraqi people, and Arabs in general.
- Not listening to advisers who urged a more robust occupation force, thus losing the strategic initiative, temporarily.
- Not articulating a clear enough vision of what freedom would mean for the Middle East and the Third World. (MTV?)
- Not upholding true conservative principles in health and education policy, or in the budget in general.
George Will makes some of these points in his tepid endorsement of Bush in yesterday's Washington Post. In the end, he writes, the most important thing is pursuing a firm, steady course in defeating the Arab-Islamic terrorists -- and Bush knows it. I'm willing to bet that the Democrats would have been in a much better position to win this election if such fringe elements as MoveOn.org and ACT had been more restrained and reasonable in their criticisms of Bush.
Just what I was thinking: Osama bin Laden's surprise address to the American people sounded like it was written by Michael Moore or the Democratic National Committee. Guess what? A Democrat has frankly admitted as much. Will the implications of this striking rhetorical convergence sink in to enough heads by tomorrow? See Jeff Jarvis's buzzmachine. (via InstaPundit and Belmont Club)
The eerie thing about the bin Laden tape is how he remixes Michael Moore -- remixes as if in a Cuisinart. I swear the guy saw Fahrenheit 9/11 and picked up the themes for his latest wacky show -- even the fixation with that goat book. It's so nutty that if he weren't such an evil murdering slime, it would almost be funny. Or it would sound like another 527 ad.
What's also strange is that it's hard to see exactly how he wants to influence the election. Though it may seem he's trying to defeat the President, taunting Bush and America may only serve Bush. And that may be his goal: These cult nuts feed on having enemies and Bush is his ideal enemy.
I sharply dispute his last part, of course, since I think bin Laden is more sophisticated than that. Maybe I'm wrong. Anyway, all that made me think, what if Bush has been consciously downplaying the importance of Osama bin Laden in order to undermine his prestige among his supporters? Did Bush deliberatedly "take his eye off the ball" (as Kerry keeps whining) in order to rob bin Laden of the attention he needs to survive?? If so, it would a "psychological operation" of the highest order. Reactions from the Looney Left to the bin Laden videotape (see erictheunred, via InstaPundit) make you wonder if some of that stuff is coming from right-wing plants out to discredit them. Nah, that's too conspiratorial.