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Salvaged from the trash can: Congratulations, President Kerry

Monday night, while I was still foolishly trusting the polls, I started preparing myself for the worst and wrote a piece presuming a Kerry victory. I'm too much of a Yankee packrat to let anything go to waste, so I figured I'd toss it out here for people to see and mock me over.

It's over. Despite our best efforts, it's now become obvious that President Bush has followed his father's example of a one-term presidency and Senator John Forbes Kerry will be the next president of the United States.

This isn't easy for me to write. I've literally lost count of the number of pieces I've written decrying this event, the number of people I've argued this with. And I'm sure that there will be plenty of claims and evidence of voter fraud, accusations of stolen elections, and all sorts of vituperation and recriminations in the upcoming weeks, if not years.

But not from me.

I recall when the current President Bush took office after the "long national nightmare" of Florida's electile dysfunction of 2000. The hostility, the hatred, the divisiveness carried through to the highest levels of government, and I recall the Democrats trashing the White House as they left, blocking nearly every single appointment the president put forth, and in general being as uncooperative and obstructionist as they could. As I recall (quite possibly incorrectly), Bush didn't even have an entire cabinet by the time 9/11 occurred and changed everything. I sincerely hope the Republicans in Congress don't choose this time -- a time of war -- to engage in a bit of payback. President Kerry deserves to have his choice in his closest advisors, within reason, and it's nothing short of sheer pettiness to deny him that right without compelling reasons.

I recall a bit more about the early days of the George W. Bush administration. I recall my boss at the time calling him "President Quayle" and myself wondering just why he had bothered to run for president. I remember when I myself ran for political office in college, where my primary motivation was to "keep the power away from the pinheads currently making the decisions," and wondered if that was it. The alternative seemed to be he was running solely because it was expected of him, and becoming president was the goal in and of itself -- no real plans for what to do once he got into office.

And then September 11 happened, and changed the world.

President Bush, who I had largely dismissed as a caretaker President, the Anti-Clinton, the beneficiary of the backlash against the previous eight years, suddenly found purpose in his presidency. Some of the Christian Right openly speculated that his election was God's way of making sure we'd be ready for the horrible events of that day, and I found it difficult to casually dismiss the idea. I was reminded of Harry Truman, another caretaker and minor-league politician who suddenly found himself having to handle far more than he'd ever anticipated, and far exceeding everyone's expectations.

John Kerry has always reminded me of the pre-9/11 George W. Bush. He always seemed to have his eyes firmly set on winning the presidency, but no real plans for what he would do once he got there, other than not be George W. Bush. And heaven knows his record in government hasn't given me much cause for hope -- he's always struck me as a bit of a dilettante, content to simply be a Senator and not overly concerned about the responsibilities that go with the office. And it's been easy for him to do so -- he's a liberal Democrat from Massachusetts, serving in the (generous) shadow of Ted Kennedy. Last time he ran for re-election, the Republicans didn't even bother to run someone against him.

I'm hoping I'm wrong. But if I'm wrong, I hope that President Kerry also finds his purpose and his reason for achieving the Oval Office. And I'm hoping that the price of his self-discovery is nowhere near as horrifying as 9/11 was. The Presidency has a tendency of inflicting great changes, for better or ill, on the men (so far) that assume its mantle. Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Jimmy Carter were crumbled under the weight. John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush found their life's fulfillment through it. Here's hoping President Kerry can continue to emulate his role model, with whom he shares initials and a common history.

And congratulations to President Kerry's supporters. You won, and we lost. But I leave you with these cautionary words, the lyrics to a song. It was written by Joss Whedon, and appeared in the episode "Once More, With Feeling" from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." (One finds wisdom in the strangest places, and I freely admit to being a huge Buffy fan.)

Where do we go from here?

Where do we go from here?
Where do we go from here?
The battle's done, and we kind of won,
So we sound our vict'ry cheer.
Where do we go from here?

Why is the path unclear,
When we know home is near?
Understand we'll go hand in hand,
But we'll walk alone in fear.
Tell me
Where do we go from here?

When does "The End" appear?
When do the trumpets cheer?
The curtains close on a kiss -
God knows we can tell the end is near.
Where do we go from here?
Where do we go from here?
Where do we go from here?
Where do we go from here?


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Comments (15)

Hey Jay, wann write my Eulo... (Below threshold)

Hey Jay, wann write my Eulogy when the time comes? :)

Its nice to see a reflective piece written without all the complaining, bitching and moaning. I wish others would be so kind.

- JT - I'm much more conten... (Below threshold)

- JT - I'm much more contented reading faux president Kerry trashed articles than the other way around...Never the less, even the remotest possibility I had somehow dreamed my way through the last week had me glancing to the left and re-reading the "recently on WhizBang" rooster and then basking in the glow all over again....

In light of the moonbats, I... (Below threshold)
bains:

In light of the moonbats, I'm reminded of an obscure late 80's Scottish band's song entitled "Better Than Them."

the key lyrics?

...This is our town, this is Friday nite
dressed in our rags and our rage, and our best.
piercing eyes looking for something, anything, just anyone
stare across the floor as they begin to dance
missin all the rhythms, chose the wrong steps
and we laugh, and we drink in our corner again
we're better than them.

Divided we were born,
divided we live,
divided we fall, yea
divided well die.
Yet we tell ourselves
over and over again,
were better than them.
.

Crikey! Kerry won?!!!... (Below threshold)

Crikey! Kerry won?!!!

This must not be the right universe.

*spins dial on alien device*

its weird reading about all... (Below threshold)

its weird reading about all these people disheartened by the exit polls. I saw them on Drudge, then almost immediately saw somewhere they were 60% women and I immediately thought, the guys aren't home from work to vote yet, no worries and dismissed it from my mind. There was no way the RCP average was going to be that wrong, Bush had been up 3-6 pts for 2 weeks averaging the even biased polls out there, so there was no way Kerry would jump that in one day. I never had a moment's worry until after Ohio had fallen and it almost looked like he might get stuck at 269 if he couldnt take Nev, NM or Iowa (a possiblity for a while). Other than that, I never doubted. I sure as hell wasn't going to not vote because of early exit polls, I was going to vote unless I got killed on the way to the polling place.

Actually now that I've got ... (Below threshold)
bains:

Actually now that I've got the CD playing...

(it would be easier to transcribe, but the original LP is buried in the basement)

...With our hunger, and our hatred
we all walk this town
with our fear and our weakness
just holdin' on
with our doubt and our emptyness
and this cold, cold frown
we've got to be so important
we put the whole damn world down
and we build the walls we can hide behind
and our finest weapon is our poisned pride
and here in this town where our jealousy's burn
we're watching you (we're watching you)
and truth is only what we need it to be
to bring our survival thru each and every day
and nowhere is safe and nowhere is home
just be cool...

Yeah, there were some unhap... (Below threshold)
Pat Reilly:

Yeah, there were some unhappy things going on at the beginning there, and thank God things came through in the end. On another note, "Once More With Feeling" is quite possibly the greatest single episode of a TV show that I think I've ever seen. Keep up the good work.

Well, I supported Kerry thi... (Below threshold)
trp:

Well, I supported Kerry this year because I believed he was a competent alternative to what has been a disastrous presidency. I gave Bush many chances but the more I learned about him the less I believed he was competent to run this country. It wasn't his ideology I disagreed with the most -- although his attempts to break down the fundamental barrier between church and state are worrying -- but rather the fact that he's just not president-caliber material. I'm sure he would've been fun to hang out with at the frat in college. And he's had a spiritual awakening, so it might be nice to sit down and have a church chat with him. But the man is just an Average Joe with a lot of charisma. He doesn't understand the issues and he gets manipulated by people into doing things that are dangerous, and bad for the country.

So I supported Kerry this year -- as strongly as I possibly could have. I believed a Bush win could be disastrous for America, and now that it's occurred, I have a feeling of overwhelming dread about the next four years. Bush has all three branches of government in his pocket, and soon he will control the most radical Supreme Court in American history. He has already thrown away more than two centuries of American foreign policy in order to preemptively invade a country and turn the world against us. As I said, he's got a full-on assault on the separation of church and state -- which, when you think about it, is really perhaps the single characteristic that best epitomizes the American experiment in democracy. He actually cut taxes on the wealthy WHILE going to war -- totally unprecedented and indicative of his recklessness.

That's just the beginning. I've got so much to say about this president, and right now I've never had less respect for American voters -- and I hate that. So reading your piece was more than a little depressing for me. Just a few days ago, I had great hope that America might have the wisdom to extricate itself from this dangerous predicament. Now it's not going to happen. It's times like these that make me think about the words of John Adams: "There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide." I have a broad view of history and civilization. I know empires fall, and although I'm not fatalistic about the fall of our own empire, let's at least say I know it's possible. I don't believe that George Bush has such a view of history. And if a president as reckless and shortsighted as Bush can win a majority in America despite a term littered with glaring, fundamental mistakes, I wonder just how many more years our democracy has left.

So for me, to read your piece -- and I couldn't even finish it -- made me well up inside. I had so much hope for this country just a few days ago. Bush was an aberration. Surely he was an aberration. He had to be. He doesn't represent American values; he represents some weird new fringe of oddball evangelical values, and passes them off as patriotic. He's married to a bunch of radical neoconservatives pressing us to blitz through the Middle East with force. (I.e. He recently gave a Presidential Medal of Freedom to Norman Podhoretz, praising Podhoretz for "speaking the truth." Podhoretz advocates using American military force to topple "at a minimum" half a dozen regimes in the Middle East, starting what he calls World War IV, III being the Cold War.) Bush has never given me any indication that he has a sense of history or even a true feel for the Constitution. He spends more time with quirky religious fanatics that truly frighten me than he does with historians. You know, the Bible is all well-and-good, but it simply ain't a handbook for running the world. And if we keep electing presidents who try to turn the insitutions of American government into theologically-oriented bodies, this country will collapse in a heartbeat, before you can say, "We the people." Speaking at Bob Jones University in 1999, John Ashcroft told the likeminded crowd that America "has no king but Jesus," and said, in what was literally 180 degrees off from what the founding fathers said, that our source is "godly and eternal, not...civic and temporal." Has he even taken a revolutionary era history course? Americans like Bush because he's a man of God. Man of God. No problem. But if we don't keep God out of the government, I guarantee you -- GUARANTEE -- America as we have known it will CEASE TO EXIST at some point in the next century, perhaps within a few decades. Guess how many great empires thought they would never fall? Too many for me to count. The way Bush struts around and confidently spews out policy without barely pondering it for a second, it seems as though he believes America is entitled to greatness no matter what we do. That's BS. We have to earn our greatness, and I have never been more concerned than I am today that we are throwing away more than two centuries of hard work by diligent patriots.

So for me to read your piece was jarring and as I said, more than a little depressing. With the country headed in the direction it is today, I know that at some level I will feel ill-at-ease 24/7 for four years straight. Bush's father I trusted. Reagan I can trust, Ford I can trust, Nixon I can trust (call me crazy, but the man knew how the world worked), Eisenhower I can trust. I'm going back to leaders with which I have no firsthand experience, but from what I know about them I can say that they understood the basic character of America, had a decent sense of America's history and purpose, had a reasonable grasp of foreign policy and economics, and did not treat deep, thoughtful deliberation as though it were some sort of terrible pestilence.

This blog is way, way above average, and I've visited blogs both on the left and the right, more on the right than on the left. I say this because I have become exasperated with American politics recently. On both the left and the right, there are so many who simply embrace what they're told by party leadership and reject the other side outright. They attack the other side's motivations, rather than attacking their positions or examining the issues. I could name specific blogs, but if you've visited them, you probably know what I mean. I understand that everybody loves to attack the other side during a campaign, and it's to be expected. But when one's entire premise for supporting a candidate revolves around attacking the other sides' motivations (i.e. traitor, America hater) politics has devolved to a dangerous, dangerous point. The Bush administration ought to be ashamed of itself for encouraging this among its base, and blogs like Wizbang that participate in this, of course to a degree, but for the most part transcend it and aim for a level of class instead, I respect to the utmost. Both the left and the right ought to be ashamed of themselves this year for letting issues get away from them. We NEVER had a true dialog this year, and I believe that if in a democracy, we don't conduct true dialog, we will pay a very heavy price, and perhaps before too long.

So your piece made me think. 90% of those thoughts are highly depressing but still, it's better to think than to shut off our reason. As Thomas Jefferson said, "Man once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without a rudder, is the sport of every wind."

I'm also reminded right now of what George Washington once said in his passionate farewell address to the nation in 1796.

He said, "Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism."

Washington, at the time, was concerned about the future of our nation, a nation with great potential, with a lot of reasons to be hopeful, yet one that Washington knew could perish or falter in the blink of an eye -- the moment we turn off our reason.

In response, I'd like to pu... (Below threshold)

In response, I'd like to put, very simply, my thoughts out there. There are two camps out there who have differing opinions on who is the enemy. Let us not forget who the enemy really is. When attention is directed away from that we lose sight of the real issues we're faced with. "Annihilation or survival" is the phrase of the day. Our only real argument is who we think can handle it better. If for one moment we think that dialog and nuance will win over a sharp stick in the eye we're wrong. And those who think that Europe's hatred for America is new, hasn't been paying attention.

A few more attacks in Europe by the fanatics will bring them around. It's a shame that's what it will take to do it, but they will be forced to rethink this whole "hate America" thing. They don't have to like us to fight a common enemy and the sooner they realize that the better off we'll all be.

I'd rather be fighting a clearly defined enemy than one in our own midst taking us into the European mindset of self-loathing and guilt for our achievements, appeasement, socialsm and a degradation of the values our country was built on.

Buffy fans. They're everyw... (Below threshold)
alcibiades:

Buffy fans. They're everywhere.

trp, great post... my senti... (Below threshold)
karl:

trp, great post... my sentiments exactly...

And I thought that Zogby ha... (Below threshold)
McCain:

And I thought that Zogby had it all wrong.

"The reports of my death are premature."
--Mark Twain

Liberals are like cockroach... (Below threshold)
Jim:

Liberals are like cockroaches. It's next to impossible to get rid of them. So in this instance, I do believe in containment.

I completely missed this la... (Below threshold)
Mike:

I completely missed this last MSM B.S. move. I had complete confidence in a Bush win. I slept better than I have in a long time, and I completely skipped the news (such as it is these days). If I had not had such confidence, I would have sold my AAPL stock earlier. I sold it on the third. I may have done even better with AAPL, but although my confidence on the election was high, I have no idea what will happen after the election. I sort of expected Kerry to act more insanely, but he did fulfill the decree of Hugh Hewitt: "If it is not close they can't cheat". Still Kerry does deserve some credit for acting with class finally. I think that he was the worst candidate put forward in my lifetime. I am an independent, but Democrats really ought to think about their current insanity. You are losing! I am a conservative, so I think that it is a great thing, but maybe you Democrats should get a clue. :)

Am I mistaken, or is this n... (Below threshold)
Mike:

Am I mistaken, or is this not a place for mirth generally? I definitely do not want to talk about eulogies. Although I can't believe that I am that old (or that I am again mentioning Hugh Hewitt), but Hugh and I are the same age. Yikes! :) We are still 39! Sure we are. Girlish figures too. At least I am barely gray at all. :)




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