George W. Bush hijacked our grief in terrible times and put it to dishonorable purposes. Now, a reckoning has come for this appointed president. He leaves us with the distinct impression that there is nothing he wouldn’t do—smear an opponent, accept dubious votes, turn his operatives loose on the voting rights of Democrats—to finally be elected president. And there is the equally strong impression that there are things John Kerry is not willing to do to be president. We find that comforting.
Bush is a weak and easily manipulated leader who is not the critical thinker needed when his aides and appointees slide dubious intelligence reports past him, as they will surely continue doing if we give them another four years.
Bush’s faltering, vacillating handling of public policy on security issues (opposing a Homeland Security cabinet post one week, changing his mind the next, opposing a Sept. 11 commission one week, changing his mind the next, opposing budget authority for an intelligence czar one week, changing his mind the next) leaves us with uncertainty in our own government and a hesitant image before the world—all while he paints his calm and resolute opponent as giving the world “mixed signals.”
By abandoning the war on terror to get sidetracked and shell shocked in Iraq, Bush made a more dangerous world. Moderates have fled that unfortunate nation, and extremists have flocked there in force. Bush has made Iraq magnetic north for terrorists and turned it into a regional threat.
What few of us realize is that Iraq is not the only place where these Bush policies are wreaking havoc. We hear about Iraq because we are engaged there, but in places like the Philippines, officials designated common criminals or their political opposition as terrorists in order to get U.S. aid. This is facilitated by the way George Bush chooses his appointees—for their loyalty to him, not their competence. Some of the best anti-terrorism people have departed the U.S. government, and those who are left are not able to capably analyze what is and is not terror.
The United States embraced Ayad Allawi as premier of Iraq, and Allawi soon imposed martial law and cracked down on political expression and news entities. That is not a premier; it is a dictator. Did a thousand U.S. servicepeople and tens of thousands of Iraqis die merely to put Iraq’s dictatorship under new management?
A few days ago, former Pakistani Prime Minister Benizir Bhutto, whose nation is in the grip of a dictator propped up by Bush, was in Reno and told KUNR something that should define our Iraq policy: “And it’s the values of freedom that can best undermine the forces of terrorism.” Instead, our Iraq policy is defined by amorality and deceit.
To all of which, Bush chants his retrospective rationale for the war, “Saddam is gone,” even as Saddam runs for a seat in the new Iraqi parliament. The truth is that Bush is out of his league in this dangerous world, and we need a steadier, firmer, and especially more trustworthy hand on the helm.
European nations have lived with more terrorism for a longer time than we have. When Bush abandoned the battle against terror for a detour into Iraq, they went on fighting the war against terror. It is their leadership, not Bush’s, to which our nation needs to respond. (For one thing, Europe looks for terrorism where it is, not where it is not.)
Bush poses as a man of values yet accepted the presidency after the public voted against him, turned the propaganda machinery of his administration loose on those who (like Richard Clarke) criticize him, abused those good people who (like Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki) disagreed with him, and presides over a machinery that hides abused prisoners from the Red Cross.
We have no illusions that John Kerry is a perfect candidate, but we’re not looking for one. We’re looking for a better president. Kerry is a man who has seen combat, an experience that made him a leader of restraint who would use war as a last resort, not the first resort it was for George Bush. It is not an accident that most of the top leaders of opposition to this misguided, dangerous war were veterans, and most of those who led the charge to start it were men who lived through Vietnam on evasive maneuvers and draft deferments.
Bush seems incapable of learning. Indeed, he brags of the fact. When was the last time we had a national leader who boasted of his intransigence? He seems unable to admit error and change course. That he characterizes Kerry’s course changes as “flip flopping” and “mixed signals” speaks volumes. No single quality in more important in a leader than a willingness to reexamine his own policies.
Finally, and most important, Kerry is more protective of liberty. It is a reflection of how George Bush and his dangerous appointees have set a tone that has so warped public debate in our nation that we have heard subjects like imprisonment without trial and use of torture and the cancellation of U.S. elections discussed and debated as though they were legitimate options for a great nation. Our nation’s heritage and the world’s safety are in genuine danger at the hands of his unprincipled people who do not know the value of liberty.
“We grow tyrannical fighting tyranny,” E.B. White wrote during a period of hysteria half a century ago. This is not the nation we inherited. We need to restore our nation to the admirable and internationally envied state of affairs it had before George W. Bush took the reins.
What Oliver Cromwell said of the Long Parliament must now be said by our votes to George W. Bush and his administration: “You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately… Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”
2004 General Election Endorsements
How to interpret the Reno News & Review endorsements: We have chosen not to endorse in every race. In some races, like the race for U.S. Senate, the outcome appears certain, and an endorsement of Harry Reid seems redundant. In some other races, we don’t have a clear preference. On the ballot questions, we believe in most cases, that the initiative and referendum process has been hijacked by monied interests, and, absent a clear argument in favor of the Question, we are encouraging a no vote, and we suggest that citizens convince their legislators to tighten up the process to remove the ability to pay for signatures so the right to directly redress government grievances comes back under control of the average voter. We made our decisions based on personal knowledge of the candidates, the candidates’ own policy statements and some candidate interviews.
John F. Kerry
John Edwards (DEM)
State Assembly Dist. 24
David C. Love (DEM)
State Assembly Dist. 26
Paul Juntunen (GRN)
State Assembly Dist. 27
Sheila Leslie (DEM)
State Assembly Dist. 30
Debbie Smith (DEM)
State Assembly Dist. 31
Bernie Anderson (DEM)
State Assembly Dist. 32
John Marvel (REP)
State Assembly Dist. 35
Marcia deBraga (DEM)
State Assembly Dist. 39
Lynn Hettrick (REP)
State Assembly Dist. 40
Bonnie Parnell (DEM)
County Commissioner Dist 1
Jim Galloway (REP)
Supreme Court Justice, Seat A
None of these Candidates
Supreme Court Justice, Seat E
Supreme Court Justice, Seat F
Michael L. Douglas
Regent, University of Nevada, Dist. 11
District Court Judge,
Family Div., Dept. 11
School Board Trustee, Dist. A
School Board Trustee, Dist. D
School Board Trustee, Dist. G
Theresa E. Navarro
Justice of the Peace,
Reno Township, Dept. 5
Barbara K. Finley
City of Reno
City Council Ward 1
Ronald P. Dreher
City Council, At-Large
Pierre A. Hascheff
City of Sparks
City Council, Ward 3
Statewide Ballot Questions
Question 1 - (Education First) No
Question 2 - (Nat’l Average) Yes
Question 3 - (Keep Doctors) No
Question 4 - (Insurance Rates) No
Question 5 - (Frivolous Lawsuits) No
Question 6 - (Minimum Wage) Yes
Question 7 - (Idiots voting) Yes
Question 8 - (Tax exemptions) No
Washoe County Ballot Questions
WC-1 (Advisory: Vector-borne diseases program) No
WC-2 (Advisory: Sales tax for open space) Yes
WC-3 (State’s unfunded mandates) No
City of Reno Ballot Question
R-1 (Street Ballot Question) No