Sunday, February 08, 2004

John Kerry best choice in Democratic primary

John Kerry best choice in Democratic primary

From The Tennessean: Nashville TN

These are challenging times, both abroad and at home. The next president will have to grapple with terrorism, international discord, a growing health-care crisis, a sagging economy, a threatened environment, long-term joblessness and a deficit that is reaching a staggering level.

The nation will only be able to address those issues if it first addresses the internal divisiveness that has so blurred our common goals.

The Democratic presidential candidate who is best prepared to face those challenges is Sen. John Kerry. The Tennessean endorses Kerry in Tuesday's Democratic primary in Tennessee.

This was not an easy choice for the newspaper's editorial board. Gen. Wesley Clark had some support due to his outside-the-beltway appeal and his demonstrated leadership abilities. Yet with the Tennessee presidential primary approaching, the choice for us narrowed down to Kerry and Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina.

Edwards is an extremely attractive, energetic candidate. If the contest were decided by oratorical skill alone, he would be the hands-down winner. Some Tennessee Democrats also may consider Edwards, due to his Southern roots, a more comfortable choice than Kerry. Edwards has also managed to keep himself above the fray in this campaign, keeping his operation on target and himself on message.

Yet the issue in the campaign should not be who is the most appealing candidate, or the most energetic, or the most organized, or even the nicest. While the issue for some Democrats might be who is the best candidate to challenge President George Bush, the choice ultimately should come down to who is the candidate best prepared to assume the awesome duties of the White House. In that context, the best candidate is Kerry.

He comes to the campaign with a proven commitment on issues that matter and a long record of public service, as a soldier, as a state official and as a senator.

Kerry's campaign isn't fueled by platitudes and bluster, but by ideas. He offers the right combination on tax policy, calling for the tax cuts to remain in place for middle-income Americans, while they are rolled back for those with annual incomes of $200,000 or more. He would spark job creation with a manufacturing jobs credit.

He proposes to close corporate loopholes by beefing up enforcement at the Securities and Exchange Commission and barring corporations from shielding themselves from taxes through the use of off-shore bank accounts.

On health care, Kerry proposes incentives for businesses to cover workers and their families, an enforceable patients bill of rights and reduced costs for medical malpractice.

The senator, who has one of the strongest environmental records in Congress, proposes a renewable energy trust fund that would foster energy independence without wrecking our environment.

On the foreign front, Kerry wants to create a real partnership within the international community that would, among other things, internationalize the troops in Iraq and rebuild Iraqi security forces. He has been a consistent proponent of non-proliferation measures in the U.S. Senate.

Kerry was criticized early in this campaign as being boring and ponderous. He listened to his critics, rejuvenated his campaign, and found better ways to connect with voters.

And in these political times, the accusation of being ponderous should be taken as a compliment. The nation needs more leaders who are thoughtful, fulsome in their approaches to issues, and who understand the complexities surrounding current events.

A war hero, a deliberate thinker, an experienced leader, a person fully capable to handle the vexing challenges this nation faces. John Kerry has earned the right to be the Democratic presidential nominee.


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