Note that comments are enabled. I'm leaving them enabled because I'm curious to see if anyone actually reads my journal. :)
Of course, by leaving comments on, I am opening myself up to flames or trolls, and since this subject is about the 2004 Presidential election, chances are high that I'll get one or two of them. While I will be reading any comment that I happen to get, I doubt that I'll take the time to respond. It would only result in a pissing match and that's a complete waste of everyone's time. I'll probably make errors in this journal entry. Go ahead and point them out. Your pointing them out will not change my mind, but it will help me as I try to find the weak spots in my thinking. Just do me one favor, read my entire post before responding. It's a long post and it may not be the most exciting read. But, hey, I'm letting all of you post on this journal, at least give my writing a bit of respect before you flame me. :)
A couple of more things: I do live in Pennsylvania, a swing state. Back in the late 1980's, early 1990's, I was not the stinking computer consultant that I am today. From about 1989 through 1996, I was a professional political campaigner (always for the democrats). I've done everything from big-dollar fundraiser to Get Out the Vote to Advance work. Of course, being a democrat back then gives me a heavy tendency to support democrats. Unfortunately this year, my party has stuck me with Senator Kerry. I would have preferred someone else (General Clark?), but, hey, you go with what you are given. Also, I did NOT look at any of the "talking point" web sites before writing this journal. I've tried to formulate these thoughts on my own (I do read many columnists, from the both left and right, so I am sure they have some influence on this article). If there is a list of "talking points" that I am mimicking, it is purely unintentional.
Now, onto President Bush.
When I began to think about the reasons why I won't vote for this President, I thought about all of these individual policy reasons:
How does this President reconcile his Tax Cut policy with his budget requests to increase Spending?
How could I support a President that wants to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, instead of increasing gas mileage requirements on automobiles?
Oddly. Despite being a certified liberal, I am actually in favor of NAFTA and other global trading pacts (and yes, I think that statement will probably get me some flames from left-wingers). How can I support a President that increased tariff's on Steel? All that did was increase the cost of Steel on US Consumers. Why would he support huge subsidies to farmers? All that does is raise the costs of other imported goods, since other countries are penalizing us for subsidizing our farm exports.
I'm somewhat of a pacifist. I was personally opposed to Iraq from the beginning. How could I support this President base on his policy in Iraq? Especially after it meant pulling resources away from the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. (Probably asking for flame from the right on that statement).
I am opposed to Mr. Bush on nearly every issue you can think of: I am pro-choice. I am in favor of gay marriage . I am fully opposed to the Patriot Act. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
But, when it came down to it, the policy differences aren't what really drives me crazy about this President (I am sure if you dug through a list of issues, you would find a few in which I agree with the President). I think it boils down to a question of style. Unlike some liberals, I actually think the President, when formulating policy, does listen to a variety of viewpoints in his administration. I think he considers multiple sides of an issue. My problem comes with what happens after Mr. Bush formulates a policy decision.
He rarely shows the tendency to change his mind on a policy. He continues the course, no matter what. Some people may consider that to be a sign of strength. I consider it to be a sign of stubborness. Situations change. When situations change, policies sometime have to change. This President does not seem to even consider that possiblity.
When Mr. Bush first proposed Tax Cuts, there was a budget surplus. His administration talked about puttining the surplus into the pockets of the taxpayers. Then, the economy went into the dumpster. The Administration changed the reason for the policy (tax cuts were needed to stimulate the economy), but they didn't alter the policy. The policy passed. Then, when the economy didn't pick up, the Administration proposed more tax cuts. It didn't matter that we were experiencing budget deficits. What mattered was that tax cuts were the policy. There was no mention of the failed stimulus that occured with the first tax cuts. Instead, the Administration focused on how more tax cuts would be good for the economy (Oh, please don't tell me that the tax cuts resulted in an improving economy. The economy has barely improved today and it has been over a year since the most recent tax cuts passed. Any stimulus from them would have occured by now).
Note that while I don't think the tax cuts are a good policy, what really bothers me is the single-mindedness of the Administration. All they cared about was Tax Cuts.
Now, bear with me and look at Iraq. At first, we were invading Iraq because of Weapons of Mass Destruction. Then, we were invading Iraq because of it's links with terrorists. Now, our reasons for invading Iraq are to free the Iraqi People. Although I have moral issues with changing 220 years of US policy and launching a pre-emptive war, my real problem is that once the policy was decided, the Administration just kept coming up with new reasons for invading the country, even after their original reasons were proven to be incorrect.
My problem is that this Administration's justification for a policy is NOT as important as the policy itself. In other words. Mr. Bush thinks that Tax Cuts are good, then the Administration comes up with as many justifications as they can. It doesn't matter that the situation has changed. That the deficits have been ballooning. All that matters is the policy, Tax Cuts. The same with Iraq. Mr. Bush decided to invade Iraq. The Administration then spends months and months justifying the policy. It doesn't matter that the original reasons for the invasion have been proven false, the Administration keeps coming up with new reasons for the invasion.
I could go on about this President's smear campaigns against Senator Kerry. But, there is no point. Karl Rove is a great campaigner and has shown the tendency to smear Mr. Bush's opponents before, as in what happened to Senator McCain in the 2000 South Carolina Republican primary. However, I don't blame Mr. Bush for launching attacks. I DO blame Mr. Kerry for running a bad campaign (and having some bad luck). In a campaign for the President of the United States, a candidate should expect the opposition to do whatever it takes to win. Senator Kerry was obviously not prepared. Mr. Bush is a great campaigner (he stays ON MESSAGE) and I think Mr. Kerry has "misunderestimated" him. At the time this journal entry was posted (Sept, 2004), there was time for the Senator to rebound. Mr. Kerry is starting to attack on the key issue in this election, Iraq. We'll see if his attacks stick and we'll see what happens after the first debate.
I hope you read the whole journal post. If you care, go ahead and comment.