The suggestion that terrorists support Sen. John F. Kerry for president is ugly, but basically silly. The suggestion that Kerry supports the terrorists is flat-out disgusting. President Bush has allowed surrogates to spread the former idea, but he himself has helped to promote the latter. Last week, Bush declared that Kerry's criticism of him and his Iraq policy 'can embolden an enemy' and called Kerry 'destructive' to the war on terror.
Since election day 2000 and through his first term, Bush has talked a better game of democratic values than he has played. And he is not one for nuances in any event. But the point here is not subtle: The right to criticize the policies of those in power is not just one of democracy's fringe benefits; it is essential to making the democratic machinery work. And questions of war and peace -- dead young Americans, dead Iraqis, a radicalized Middle East, billions of dollars: Was it worth all this? -- are the ones that need democracy the most. Why would any president even wish to plunge this country into war and keep it there without a level of support from the citizenry that is strong enough to survive the obvious counterarguments?
Compared with Kerry, George W. Bush is a coward. This is not a reference to their respective activities during Vietnam. It refers to the current election campaign. Bush happily benefits from the slime his supporters are spreading but refuses to take responsibility for it or to call point-blank for it to stop. He got away with this when the prime mover was the shadowy Swift boats group. Will he get away with it when the accusers are his own vice president, high officials of his own administration (Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage) and members of Congress from his own party (House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert or Sen. Orrin Hatch)? The answer is yes: Based on recent experience, he probably will get away with it.
I was staggered to read this in a major US newspaper. Maybe the US media is finally prepared to say the Great and Powerful Dubya is an meperor without clothes.