The Oakland Press (Pontiac, MI)

Sunday October 10, 2004

Bush is best choice for America

The presidential campaign of 2000 seems far more than four years ago.  Its most memorable aspect was its disputed outcome.  Then came Sept. 11, 2001.  Three thousand of us were killed in our own country by Islamic terrorists and we were awakened to a challenge to our safety and way of life we’d hardly known existed.

That event and its aftermath are the defining reality of the 2004 campaign.  We need a president for the next four years who will not let us forget the new global peril and who will maintain an effective defense against it.  At the same time he must maintain our internal prosperity and health. 

While neither George W. Bush nor John Kerry has fully satisfied our concerns in these areas, we believe the re-election of George Bush is the best course for America. 

President Bush showed remarkable strength and leadership in the aftermath of 9/11.  He successfully initiated our war against terror with the ouster of the Taliban from Afghanistan, where the leader of the 9/11 plot against the United States was hiding. However, Osama bin Laden managed to escape and remains at large, if he still is living. 

Of course,  9/11 changed everything.  No longer will this country wait until attacked before we wage war on our enemies.  And while the evidence of Saddam Hussein’s threat looked conclusive at the time of our invasion, it is now clear to many — including this newspaper’s editorial board — that it was ill-timed and diverted much needed men and supplies from finishing off bin Laden and the Taliban. 

Failure to win the peace in Iraq has cost us dearly.  We have squandered a great deal of the worldwide sympathy and goodwill directed at us three years ago. 

Kerry, however, goes too far in arguing the president has served our military poorly by sending in too small a force, failing to provide security after the government of Saddam had fallen, and being too slow to crack down on local insurgents and those from outside the country.

Kerry has offered nothing of significance other than “getting the United Nations and other countries more involved.” 

No responsible leader of this country can seriously rely on that agency or any other collective approach to preserving the security of this country and other threatened nations. An ardent foe of the Vietnam War, Kerry since has voted against virtually every American action abroad, including Desert Storm. 

Kerry has been all over the map on the terror issue. At no time has he convinced us he realizes 9/11 changed everything.  We feel more secure with President Bush leading the global war on terror and our national security.  Kerry still appears indecisive, a quality we can ill afford with our commander in chief. 

At home the issue is the economy, which could have just as significant an impact on Nov. 2 as Iraq.  And it could be where President Bush is most vulnerable.  That would be wrong, because many of the causes of the economic downturn were in place when Bush took office.  The Bush-initiated tax cuts did what they were supposed to do.  They boosted the economy out of its deep post high-tech boom collapse.  That’s when creating deficits are appropriate. 

In the second quarter of this year the gross domestic product is up 3.3 percent and in the past year personal income is up 5 percent.  The jobless rate is 5.4 percent, lower than the 5.8 percent average of the 1990s.  And just 1 percent of the jobs lost have been to other countries.  So much for the outsourcing scare.  The deficits already are more than $100 billion lower than doubters expected, thanks to the economic growth.

Domestically, the economy and our staggering health care costs will be major concerns during the next four years.  Kerry has offered nothing of substance to either debate and his unimpressive 20-year stint in the Senate offers little confidence he can champion needed policy initiatives during the next four years. 

Bush, however, also has his faults on the home front.  He has failed to unite a deeply divided nation.  He has imposed his personal religious views on public health and scientific research policies.  This has been done to the country’s detriment. 

On the other hand, one of the president’s domestic achievements has been the No Child Left Behind legislation.  Its goal is to end the “leaving behind,” academically and otherwise, of so many of the nation’s youngsters.  No Child Left Behind shines the spotlight on their needs and stops cloaking their failures in overall achievement “averages.”  Unfortunately many of Kerry’s fellow Democrats are under pressure to shift our focus away from that sad educational reality. 

Yes, George W. Bush has made some mistakes and miscalculations in the past three and a half years. But his leadership in the most challenging period this nation has endured since Pearl Harbor makes him the best choice on Nov. 2.

Copyright © 2004 The Oakland Press.  Reprinted by permission.  (John Cusumano, Oct. 13, 2004)


Editorial Board - Edward Moss: President & publisher; Garry Gilbert: Executive editor; Neil Munro: Editor; Susan Hood: Managing editor; John Cusumano: Senior editor; Roger Wingelaar: Assistant managing editor; Sandra Groves: Human resources director; Laurie Puscas and Stan Kurzman: community members.

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