For careful listeners, it was Bush who landed the knockout

October 16, 2004|by Mark D. Thomas, Hagerstown

To the editor:

As a former high-school English teacher and life-long Republican, I'll confess I've sometimes been disappointed by President Bush's occasional ineloquence. Meanwhile, I'm also aware that classical debate favors people with a talent for memorizing facts to support arguments. So, I didn't expect Bush to deliver a knockout punch as some in my party might have hoped.

Nevertheless, in my view, President Bush won virtually every round. While Kerry offered the classic academic debater's style, his substance was entirely the same (and, as usual, logically flawed and laden with contradictions) and was presented in a condescending, patrician tone. In fact, the content of his presentation was little more than, "Anything you can do, I can do better."

Confronted with Kerry's repeated contradictions, Bush said, "the only thing consistent about my opponent is his inconsistency." Well, I think there's another consistency in Kerry's repeated flip-flops: He's consistently opposed to any Republican who's in a position of leadership, regardless of the rightness of his opponent's cause or the logic of his opponent's rationale. Kerry's political position is, in fact, always the same: He's always on the far left; it's his rationale that changes constantly. He doesn't really believe in anything, except what will distinguish him from the one who's got the power and responsibility.


Having said that, more significant than Kerry's continued contradictions was his astonishing lack of intuition and insight. In contrast, while Bush may not be eloquent, he is gifted with a sort of visionary intuition - and this is, in fact, the most significant difference between the two candidates' characters.

Regrettably, the President's occasional lack of eloquence may obscure one's perception of this intuition, and so, one needs to listen carefully at a different level to discern this.

It seemed to me, for example, that the most telling point in the debate was Kerry's condescending assertion that "Osama bin Laden was the enemy who attacked us, not Sadam Hussein." True enough at a certain stiff, intellectual level. However, this assertion revealed that Kerry believes we should devote our resources to hunting down one man and one group based upon their manifest responsibility for one day - 9/11. But this is the old way of thinking and will never work, since, by this analysis, the enemy has to strike first before we can "justly" identify and attack them. This is the reason we have for decades endured repeated terrorist attacks when we, and Israel, have dealt with terrorism in the past. They hit us, and, if we "know" who did it or where they came from, we hit back. There's no end to it.

Until Bush came along, we never got it right. But Bush has finally and definitively identified our enemy, before that enemy attacks again. He intuitively understands that our enemy is not one man or one group, but all those who think and act in the same way - all those who are moved by the same spirit. So, for President Bush, this is a spiritual battle, not a police action; it's good versus evil, and as we are fighting evil in Iraq, we are fighting the very same enemy, regardless of its name, nationality, political affiliation or the battleground.

Face it, Kerry's real goal is to get out of Iraq, when merely getting out will mean more of the same. Bush's goal is to change Afganistan and Iraq, and thus to change the Middle East and the world, and we won't leave until we have.

And so, my sense is that the president's view of the world is spiritually informed while Kerry's is not. Indeed, if you ask yourself which of the two candidates really believes in God and which believes that what America does or doesn't do should be informed by a broader sense of America's role in world history as a force for good, I would submit that Kerry is an agnostic. Kerry cares more about what Kofi Annan thinks than what God thinks.

Perhaps, then, this election is a poll on whether Americans still believe in a God of history, a God who calls upon America to accept, not shy away from, its responsibility to be a force for good in the world. And if America would still be a force for good in the world, we must recognize that evil is our enemy.

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