Wednesday, September 21, 2005

New York Times Columnists on Bush and Kerry

Bob Herbert ties all the Bush problems into a matter of competence in writing about Voters’ Remorse on Bush:

Reality is caving in on a president who was held aloft for so long by a combination of ideological mumbo-jumbo, the public relations legerdemain of Karl Rove and the buoyant patriotism that followed the Sept. 11 attacks. The Bush people were never big on reality, so sooner or later they were bound to be blindsided by it.

Remember, there was already a war going on when Katrina came to call. I’ve always believed that war is a serious matter. But the president was on vacation. Dick Cheney was on vacation. And Condi Rice was here in New York taking in the sights and shopping for shoes. That Americans were fighting and dying on foreign soil was not enough to demand their full attention. They were busy having fun. So it’s no wonder it took a good long while before they noticed that a whole section of America had been wiped out in a calamity of biblical proportions.

What Americans are finally catching onto is the utter incompetence of this crowd. And if we didn’t know before, we’re learning now, in the harshest possible ways, that incompetence has bitter consequences. The body count of Americans killed in Iraq has now passed 1,900, with many more deaths to come. But there’s still no strategy, no plan. The White House hasn’t the slightest clue about what to do. So the dying will continue.

While Herbert notes that even many loyal Republicans are starting to question Bush, there are some who stick by him. David Brooks comments on Kerry’s attacks on Bush not by refuting any of the criticism but by complaining that Kerry attacks Bush too much. “Doesn’t this guy ever get bored? If Kerry ever makes an anti-Bush jab, he makes it again.” He puts Kerry in the camp of Democrats who will not (as he wishes) “snap back to Clintonite centrism after the polarizing Bush leaves town.”

Ironically, although he intended to attack Kerry, Brooks does us a service. He points out the degree to which Kerry has been attacking Bush and other conservatives, and how Kerry is sticking to principles rather than trying to move to the center. If only the Kerry-bashers among the Democratic bloggers also realized this.


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