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Radical Bush vs. reactionary Kerry

Jeff Jacoby in the Boston Globe does a good job outlining the choice.

...And there in a nutshell is the choice in this election: forward with Bush into a difficult future or backward with Kerry to the familiar ways of the past. It would be an easy decision, except for one thing: The familiar ways of the past led to Sept. 11.

Kerry is a liberal Democrat, but in this campaign he is running as a reactionary: one who wants to reverse course -- to go back to the attitudes and practices that guided US policy when Clinton and the elder George Bush were in office. The younger Bush may be a Republican, but he is running this year as a radical. Profoundly transformed by 9/11, he sees the old playbook as feckless and is set on a revolutionary new course.

Kerry's words confirm his Sept. 10 mindset. Asked by The New York Times this month how 9/11 changed him, he replied: "It didn't change me much at all." On CNN in July he said, "What American would not trade [for] the economy we had in the 1990s, the fact that we were not at war and young Americans were not deployed?"

But of course we were at war during the Clinton and Bush I years, and we repeatedly came under attack -- at the World Trade Center, at the Kenya and Tanzania embassies, at the Khobar Towers barracks, at the port where the USS Cole docked. We were at war, but only the enemy was fighting.

Bush II looks back on the 1990s as a period of tragic complacency: "Most Americans still felt that terrorism was something distant, something that would not strike on a large scale in America," he said in New Jersey last week. "That . . . attitude is what blinded America to the war being waged against us. And by not seeing the war, our government had no comprehensive strategy to fight it."
....Bush asserts the right to attack enemies preemptively; Kerry emphasizes diplomacy and deterrence. Bush sees the United Nations as obstructionist; Kerry accords it deference and great respect. Bush is prepared to act unilaterally when US interests require it; Kerry cites the "global test" that any American action must meet. In this first presidential election since the Twin Towers fell, Americans have a momentous choice: the reactionary "realism" of a man who says 9/11 didn't change him or the radical urgency of a man who says 9/11 changed everything.
Read the whole article.