Friday, October 15, 2004

Final Comments...


n the debates. I didn't major in polisci, and I'm no political analyst, in case, er, you couldn't tell. Hehehehhe... But I have my opinions and this political race between Bush and Kerry has stirred my civic juices. Hence, my comments. Although born and raised a Republican, I consider myself truly independent now, independent of the jargon and rhetoric of either parties. And in spite of what you may think, I am one of those honest to goodness undecided voters.

Well, until Wednesday night...

At the third debate, President Bush avoided a number of questions.

SCHIEFFER: Do you believe homosexuality is a choice?

BUSH: You know, Bob, I don't know. I just don't know. I do know that we have a choice to make in America and that is to treat people with tolerance and respect and dignity. It's important that we do that. And I also know in a free society people, consenting adults can live the way they want to live. And that's to be honored.

But as we respect someone's rights, and as we profess tolerance, we shouldn't change -- or have to change -- our basic views on the sanctity of marriage.

The President has proposed a Federal ban on gay marriages. While his "basic views on the sanctity of marriage" is fine, it is exactly that: his views. How does a Federal ban treat gays--as he says--"with tolerance and respect and dignity"? He is talking out of both sides of his mouth. This is really apparent because he couldn't speak from the middle of his mouth and answer the question directly: Is homosexuality a choice? He couldn't and wouldn't answer this question. If he wanted to reflect most conservative thinking and appeal to his base, he would have had to say, "yeah, it's a choice." But he didn't because that would alienate a large portion of middle to left voters. And if he said it wasn't a choice, he would alienate his base. Ulitmately, this President, so firm in his thinking, so resolute, so strong--in his head--couldn't resolve this issue.

When it came to abortion, he wouldn't even accept the question.

SCHIEFFER: He (John Kerry) said that you had never said whether you would like to overturn Roe v. Wade. So I'd ask you directly, would you like to?

BUSH: What he's asking me is, will I have a litmus test for my judges? And the answer is, no, I will not have a litmus test. I will pick judges who will interpret the Constitution, but I'll have no litmus test.

He totally ignored the question and responded to a question he made up himself. In fact, the President was obviously so unprepared for this question that the above quote was his entire response when he had three minutes to talk. Since when did the President--or any politician--not take up the entire time allotted to speak? Some would call this deflection of the question deft. Others would call it lacking resolve. Even others might view it as simply gutless...

But when he did speak, President Bush continued with many mistatements. As one talking head put it, he looked like a college student who crammed for an exam the night before and was just trying to get all the information he had in his head on paper in any shape or fashion. With the flu vaccination situation, he obviously jumbled the information.

SCHIEFFER: Suddenly we find ourselves with a severe shortage of flu vaccine. How did that happen?

BUSH: Bob, we relied upon a company out of England to provide about half of the flu vaccines for the United States citizen, and it turned out that the vaccine they were producing was contaminated. And so we took the right action and didn't allow contaminated medicine into our country.

We're working with Canada to hopefully -- that they'll produce a -- help us realize the vaccine necessary to make sure our citizens have got flu vaccinations during this upcoming season.

First, the company is a US company with a factory in England. Secondly, Bush did not take any action to disallow the contaminated vaccine to get to the US. English inspectors deemed the vaccination contaminated and they disallowed its distribution anywhere. The President, our President, makes himself out--wittingly or not--as a major cog in the machine of disinformation. Further, I thought he slammed Kerry in the second debate for dissing Tony Blair for not recognizing England's contribution to the efforts in Iraq. Isn't blaming England for contaminated vaccine when it's really a US company and trying to take the credit away from English inspectors an insult to England, too? And what's with Canada? Didn't he say in the last debate that we couldn't trust Canada? That we had to check every pharmeceutical product from Canada to protect US citizens, even though it denied us access to inexpensive drugs? And now he wants the their drugs? He is speaking out of both sides of his mouth.

But mistatements are one thing. Contradictions--or lies--are worse.

KERRY: When the president had an opportunity to capture or kill Osama bin Laden, he took his focus off of them, outsourced the job to Afghan warlords, and Osama bin Laden escaped. Six months after he said Osama bin Laden must be caught dead or alive, this president was asked, "Where is Osama bin Laden?"

He said, "I don't know. I don't really think about him very much. I'm not that concerned." We need a president who stays deadly focused on the real war on terror.

SCHIEFFER: Mr. President?

BUSH: Gosh, I just don't think I ever said I'm not worried about Osama bin Laden. It's kind of one of those exaggerations.

Of course, anyone who has been watching the news knows now that the President indeed made the statement previously.

BUSH (3/13/2002): Terror is bigger than one person. And he's just -- he's a person who's now been marginalized. His network is -- his host government has been destroyed. He's the ultimate parasite who found weakness, exploited it, and met his match. He is -- as I've mentioned in my speeches, I do mention the fact that this is a fellow who is willing to commit youngsters to their death, and he himself tries to hide -- if, in fact, he's hiding at all.

So I don't know where he is. You know, I just don't spend that much time on him, Kelly, to be honest with you... I truly am not that concerned about him. (click here for the transcripts of the official White House Press release.)

Was he telling a lie? No, he isn't as sharp as Cheney. Did he forget it? Probably. But this flip flopping is a reflection of an accusation made by Kerry agains Bush: That the war in Iraq was a diversion. He wanted to divert out attention away from Al Qaeda and to Iraq, the war he wanted to engage. Why else would he make light of the whereabouts of bin Laden, the mastermind of 9/11. He wanted us to focus on Saddam and Iraq.

When he spoke of joblessness, he really showed how out of touch he is.

SCHIEFFER: Mr. President, what do you say to someone in this country who has lost his job to someone overseas who's being paid a fraction of what that job paid here in the United States?

BUSH: I'd say, Bob, I've got policies to continue to grow our economy and create the jobs of the 21st century. And here's some help for you to go get an education. Here's some help for you to go to a community college. We've expanded trade adjustment assistance. We want to help pay for you to gain the skills necessary to fill the jobs of the 21st century.

Does he really believe that a 40 something unemployed man can go to a community college, get a years worth of training and then find a job? His "trade adjustment assistance" may help with his tuition, but it won't go far if he has a family and a mortgage. And who will hire an over 40 man when a twenty-something likely has better and more flexible skills and will cost less? I personally felt insulted when I heard this. He has absolutely no concept of what it is like for the average man.

Of course, John Kerry has not lived in the shadow of the middle-class either. He has led a privileged life, as well. But there are two types of rich. Both will take advantage of their largesse, but in different ways. Some will use their influence and take advantage of it, like going to the National Guard and staying out of Vietnam. Others will use their influence and speak out against what they believe are government's policies gone awry, like speaking out against the Vietnam War.

I am now strongly leaning toward Kerry. This is not because of what Bush-Cheney has said. I think I have plenty of reasons not to vote for Bush-Cheney. They obfuscate, they misrepresent, and they have saddled us with the largest Federal debt ever. But not voting for Bush-Cheney does not, to me, mean that I should vote for Kerry. I lean toward Kerry now because of what he said in the third debate.

SCHIEFFER: Do you see a need for affirmative action programs, or have we moved far enough along that we no longer need to use race and gender as a factor in school admissions and federal and state contracts and so on?

KERRY: No, Bob, regrettably, we have not moved far enough along. And I regret to say that this administration has even blocked steps that could help us move further along....

The fact is that in too many parts of our country, we still have discrimination. And affirmative action is not just something that applies to people of color. Some people have a mistaken view of it in America. It also is with respect to women, it's with respect to other efforts to try to reach out and be inclusive in our country. I think that we have a long way to go, regrettably.

If you look at what's happened -- we've made progress, I want to say that at the same time. During the Clinton years, as you may recall, there was a fight over affirmative action. And there were many people, like myself, who opposed quotas, who felt there were places where it was overreaching. So we had a policy called "Mend it, don't end it." We fixed it. And we fixed it for a reason: because there are too many people still in this country who feel the stark resistance of racism, and so we have a distance to travel. As president, I will make certain we travel it.

Well, as a person who was directly affected by affirmative action, I would like to say that I am somewhat relieved that there is a white male in the the US who will actually recognize that racism still exists. While relations have improved, conditions have improved, there are still those who practice racism--often covert, barely recognizable racism--but racism nonetheless, and most of my Asian brothers and sisters know what I am talking about, as we are subjected to it more frequently than even righteous, understanding non-minorities can imagine.

In any event, this is not the only reason why I lean towards Kerry, but it was a moment on Wednesday's debate that grabbed me...

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