George W. Bush or President John Kerry
problem ? ... solve a kerrybush.
profile just underlines what the media cover for some time now and
what the booklist also hints to : the choice on November 2nd is
going to be a difficult one. So much so that it inspires us the
coinage of a new word, much in the spirit of other words created
from the names of famous politicians (gerrymander
is an example).
This word is "kerrybush" and the definition is as
Kerrybush : a kerrybush is a problem or an important decision
where the two only viable options are not perfect, often not even
satisfactory, but where the worst possible outcome results from
failure to decide.
Resolving kerrybushes thus generally implies choosing the lesser
evil or the better "bad". This is difficult because we are
naturally geared to choosing between a good and a bad option not
between two good ones, let alone between two bad ones.
But that should not stop us. We have to solve kerrybushes everyday
of our lives and we usually do fine. Remember, the most important
about a kerrybush is not to let it unsolved.
So, using our common sense and experience to solve kerrybushes in
day to day life, we should eventually have no trouble in making that
important decision on November 2nd this year, as to whom we want
to direct our future : John Kerry or George Bush.
solved the kerrybush or why deciding for whom to vote on November 2nd
is not a kerrybush, after all.
The campaigns have become so intense and negative during the last
weeks, that the choice looked more and more as a decision between two
bad alternatives. Hence the reference to the word : "kerrybush".
So let's just take another critical but unemotional look at the two
candidates, based on facts, rather than hyped political credos. To
simplify, let's analyze the two alternatives as to the four major
2. The welfare of the American people
3. Our security
4. The US foreign policy
George Walker Bush or the Bush-Cheney administration
As incumbents, they are easier to evaluate, as this can be done on the
basis of their record during the last four years.
Let's face it, the Bush-Cheney 2001-2004 record is lousy. In due time,
it is likely to be considered one of the worst presidencies in
American history. That is by historians, once the strong emotional
aspects are removed. Sure, Mr Bush is popular, but that does not mean
he is a good president. Ulysses Simpson Grant was popular, but a poll
of historians made in 1962 ranked him second worst of all former
The economic policies of the Bush-Cheney administration must be
qualified as "disastrous". Mr Bush inherited the first federal
surpluses in decades from the Clinton administration. He vowed to
redistribute this windfall in the form of tax cuts, which was popular
against the Democrats' pledge to reserve the surpluses for bridging
the social security gap and assure healthcare for every American. This
was wrong and the Bush administration made it worse, as it went ahead
with the tax cuts, when recession set in and the surpluses
disappeared. Thus they are directly responsible for the record
deficits, which now weigh on the US public finance, weaken our
purchasing power abroad and mortgage our future and the lives of our
kids. He stuck to his electoral promise for tax cuts. A popular stand,
Of course they blame the burst of the Internet bubble and 9/11, but
that does not remove their responsibility for choosing the wrong ways
to react. So, whereas George Walker Bush relieved the wealthy of their
tax burden, he enters history as the first president since Herbert
Hoover to loose jobs.
On the welfare of the American people issue, security let aside, Mr
Bush also failed blatantly. The centennial issues of social security
and healthcare have not been addressed at all. As a whole the American
people is worse off than four years ago and the gap between the
wealthy and the poor has widened. Homeless Americans are outlawed in
major cities, clearly the best way to turn the poor into criminals.
With guns easier to get than ever after the Bush administration failed
to reenact the ban on assault weapons, it's only a matter of time
until we have meet them in the streets. The educational system has
just barely been improved as funds were curtailed in response to
budgetary restrictions. Defense spending has been increased though.
Environmental control and conservation are being sacrificed, once
more, to private interests in order to solve the energy crisis, so
But at least we are safe ! Thanks to the Patriot Act, the civil rights
of assumed terrorists have been abolished and our (legal) borders have
become high technology checkpoints. All that is fine but God beware us
ever to become ourselves suspected of subversive activities. How far
is it from here to the anhilition of our civil rights in a society
where George Orwell's 1984 looks like a child's tale. Will the voting
booths be freely accessible for everybody on Tuesday, or will the
ruling party deter young, black and Hispanic voters from giving their
support to the challengers ?
"I was president during 9/11" seems to be Mr Bush's major claim to
leadership, except taking this country to war against Iraq of course.
Yet, do we want to be led this way ? Do we want to let fear direct our
That brings us to the foreign policies of President Bush. Now guess
what, that's where he has performed worst. To a large extent 9/11
already was a consequence of the arrogant way this administration
treated the serious problems affecting the Arab world. Using it to
stir up a needless and unjustified war on Iraq, thereby breaking with
some of our closest allies and disregarding the stand of the United
Nations, certainly did not make it better. The seeds of hatred we
spread this way will forever supply the ranks of Al Qaeeda and other
terror organizations, with ready martyrs, as they call themselves and
believe in it. This is definitely not the way to win the real war,
against terror, and to improve our security.
Besides there is the mess in Iraq that needs to be fixed and we are
supporting most of the cost this time. Sure, it helps American oil
companies and defense contractors but that is primarily at the expense
of the American taxpayer, not of a distant foreign country. The
unilateral retreat on the Kyoto agreements after ten years of
negotiation and the refusal to recognize the international penal court
are both popular decisions with Americans. But they are wrong. We
cannot put ourselves above international law and we cannot claim the
right to pollute, at the same time we expect other, poorer countries
to restrain their consumption for environmental purposes.
Altogether Mr Bush did not a good job as a Chief Executive and thus he
deserves not to be reelected. He is definitely a bad choice.
John Forbes Kerry or the Kerry-Edwards promise for a fresh start
It is difficult to evaluate Senator Kerry on his record, although Mr
Bush and Mr Cheney take a particular pleasure in showing us, time and
again, how he voted for and against the same issues. But were they
really the same ? And can a summarized voting pattern of a congressman
over twenty years be used to qualify his steadiness and his ability to
make the right decisions as a chief executive ?
We can only evaluate his program, promises, personality and the record
of his party when in power.
"Republicans are good for the economy and the stock market !"
This is a popular belief and except some well informed specialists,
most Americans would probably still qualify this statement as "True".
But it's a myth.
The stock market did on average five times better under Democratic
administrations and the economic growth was equally more impressive2.
Contrary to some, I refuse to see these data merely as a factor of
statistic error (spread). In my opinion, other economists may
disagree, it is a direct consequence of the Democrats more responsible
Again a tax cut for the very rich will put an additional Ferrari or
Rolls Royce in their garages and make them that much happier. But it
will not create jobs for Detroit's assembly lines. Improving the
conditions of the poor and rehabilitating social outcasts will.
Thus, whereas we cannot qualify Mr Kerry as a better president for the
American economy yet, he obviously backs the right policies.
Don't take me wrong on that. I do not believe Mr Kerry, when he claims
he will not raise our taxes. It is most likely that the fiscal
situation of the US will deteriorate so much further that tax
increases for the well-to-do, not only the very rich, cannot be
avoided. But I somewhat trust Mr Kerry to be integer enough to make
the less popular choice of retracting on this promise and selectively
increase our taxes if the situation requires it. If we have to
restrain our present consumption to restore the fiscal balance and
solve the social security and healthcare issues for the benefit of our
kids, we should go for it. This is also part of what we can do for our
country … and for our kids.
Although he would not say a word about it now, I also trust that Mr
Kerry will reduce defense spending as soon as possible. SDI and other
high spending items would thus be relegated to the distant future,
where they belong. Again, cutting defense spending does not seem a
good measure to protect America now, but if well done, the more
selective way to spend the reduced budgets may help us focus on the
real threats, instead of diverting our forces according the special
interests of a few influential corporations.
Will Mr Kerry be a good Commander in Chief ? Well, I don't know and
there is only one way to find out.
He will definitely have a better chance to ally other nations to our
cause and he may even be the only chance we get. The Bush-Cheney
administration has thoroughly mined the field of international
If you rate Mr Bush a strong leader because he said such famous
phrases as "if you are not with us, you are against us", then you may
as well take Mr Kerry's word to "hunt and kill the terrorists,
wherever they are, whatever it takes". The rhetoric is the same and
besides the words, there is not much credential for Mr Bush as a
commander in chief, as obviously witnessed by the mess in Iraq.
I don't know if Mr Kerry will do better, but he at least still
deserves the opportunity to try. He is definitely the better choice
and he may even be a good one. Time will tell3.
Editorial notes :
1. U.S. Grant carried both his first election in 1868
and his reelection in 1872 by wide margins. He got 214 against 80
electors in 1868 and all 286 electors in 1872. But the poll of
historians in 1962 ranked him second worst of former presidents after
W. G. Harding. That bad ranking is certainly related to the widespread
corruption and favorizing of special interests during his
administration, although he himself was apparently integer.
(See : William DeGregorio "The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents")
2. Average annual stock market return for the period
1927-1998 was 11% (eleven) under Democratic administrations and just
2% (two) under Republican. GPD growth in the period 1930-2000 was 5.4%
under Democratic administrations and 1.6% under Republicans. Democrats
also rank better in many other criteria such as (lower) inflation,
(lower) budget deficits, (higher) growth of personal disposable income
and (lower) unemployment rates. Democratic presidents also had lower
growth rates for Federal spending (6.96% vs 7.57%) than Republicans,
surprisingly also and even more accentuated on non-defense spending
(8.34% vs 10.08%). So much for fiscal responsibility and the myth of
"tax and spend Democrats".
http://www.eriposte.com/economy/other/demovsrep.htm for details,
more information and full annotations as to data sources etc.)
3. The author considers himself an independent. He
was a fancier of the Kennedys, specially Bobby, whose tragic
assassination deprived us of an outstanding leader. He supported Nixon
in 1972, Gerald Ford in 1976 and sidestepped the 1980 election, as Ted
Kennedy failed to be nominated for the Democrats. He heartily
supported Ronald Reagan in 1984 and somewhat less heartily George H.
W. Bush in 1988. In 1992 he swung back to the Democrats, supporting
Bill Clinton, although with some hesitation in favor of Ross Perot. Mr
Bush was definitely no longer a choice. He enthusiastically supported
Bill Clinton for reelection in 1996 and Al Gore, whom he considers the
most qualified man for the job, in 2000. He was naturally appalled by
the way the presidency was handed to George Walker Bush in defiance of
the basic rules of democracy. He would have seen in Al Gore a better
president than in John Kerry, but he acknowledges that the latter
definitely makes a better candidate now.