Concord Monitor

Sunday, January 18, 2004

For John Kerry

We chose the candidate best prepared to be president.

To say, on the eve of the First in the Nation Primary, that America is at a crossroads is an understatement. The country is at war on several fronts, mired in Iraq and facing the danger that even more will be asked of its overextended forces. The good will of most of the world's nations has turned to enmity.

On the domestic front the situation is equally perilous. The economy, if it is rebounding, is doing so in a way that promises to leave more and more Americans behind. The nation's health care system is on life support. Red ink spills from the budget, and the national debt has hit $7 trillion. The gap between the haves and have-nots has grown, and the Bush administration's tax policies promise to widen it.

Several of the Democrats seeking the presidency have the ability to alter America's course. But one is better prepared than the rest. Only Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts has well-reasoned and rock-solid answers to every question, foreign or domestic. Kerry is prepared to take office tomorrow.

Kerry's two decades in the U.S. Senate and his service on the Foreign Relations Committee have made him a statesman. He has traveled widely and met with most of the world's leaders. He has been heavily involved in seeking peace in the Middle East and an end to the AIDS epidemic in Africa. In Congress he proved that he has the ability to work with Republicans to break logjams and keep the nation's business moving.

People trust Kerry when he speaks because he has thought things through and knows where he stands. He does not advocate one policy one week, another the next. And he strongly believes in what the nation is sorely missing, an open, accountable government.

There are some who fear that a northerner can no longer be chosen to lead this nation. But Kerry's history of service to his country in peacetime and war will serve him well when the race moves out of New Hampshire. The men from the South, Midwest and West who put their faith in him on the Navy patrol boat he commanded in Vietnam's Mekong Delta found that what matters is not where you're from but what you do.

There's no doubting Kerry's courage or patriotism. He served his country heroically in Vietnam while questioning whether he and the men under his command were fighting for a worthy reason. He came to believe that they were not.

When he returned, a war hero with Purple Hearts and a Bronze and Silver Star, he stood before the U.S. Senate and asked a question all leaders should ask before wars are launched, "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?" As president, Kerry would be unafraid to lead the nation into war if that was the only option but unlikely to make a call to arms unnecessarily and without allies. Unlike President Bush and most of Kerry's Democratic rivals, he has seen war up close and knows its cost.

Long after the Vietnam War passed into history, Kerry continued the search for the soldiers missing in action or taken prisoner. And together with fellow Vietnam veteran Sen. John McCain, he worked to heal the wounds of war and bring Vietnam into the community of nations.

Like Bush, Kerry is a man rich in daughters. Unlike the president, he is willing to grant women the right to control their own destinies. And unlike the president, he understands that a healthy environment is the best legacy anyone can leave to the next generation.

Kerry's campaign got off to a rocky start. It is not in his nature to bluster or thunder. He is too thoughtful for that to come naturally. Rather he is steady and relentless in his efforts to do what he believes is right. In Iowa in recent weeks, Kerry found his stride. The worst days of his campaign are behind him.

As president, Bush proved to be not a compassionate conservative but a polarizing budget buster. Republican control of both houses of Congress has allowed him to take the nation into war on questionable pretenses, restrict civil liberties, rewrite tax policy to favor those who favor him and reverse policies crafted to protect the environment. It scares us to contemplate the damage he might do in four more years. He must be replaced.

Though much will hang on the turn of events at home and abroad, several of the candidates seeking the presidency are capable of defeating Bush in the fall.  Of them, John Kerry is best prepared to rebuild alliances abroad and repair the economy at home.

New Hampshire voters will soon have the opportunity, as Kerry puts it, to send America a message or a president. By voting for John Kerry, they will do both.

Copyright © 2004 Concord Monitor.  Reprinted by permission. (Mike Pride Jan. 30, 2004)

Editor Mike Pride explained in detail how the endorsement was arrived at in his January 18, 2004 editorial "How we picked our candidate."  He wrote: "The endorsement decision belonged to [publisher] Tom Brown and me. But three senior editors - Ralph Jimenez, who writes most of our editorials, Managing Editor Ari Richter and Sunday Editor Felice Belman - participated.  All are veterans and close observers of several New Hampshire primary campaigns."  Filmmaker Ted Bogosian filmed the endorsement meeting as part of "Nine Days in New Hampshire" (Discovery Channel and Discovery/Times Channel).