Kerry agrees with Bush

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The US Democratic Party is holding its national convention in Boston, Massachusetts to formally nominate Senator John Kerry as its candidate for President not only in the midst of unprecedented security. It’s also occurring when neither Kerry nor the Republican Party’s George W. Bush seems to have gained a clear advantage in the polls.

The news agencies describe Kerry and his vice presidential candidate John Edwards as “in a dead heat” with Bush and his vice president, Dick Cheney. Bush has an approval rating below 50 percent, which should be good news for the Democrats, since the last five US presidents who were reelected had approval ratings above 50 percent four months before the elections.

Many Americans, however, are still uncertain about voting for Kerry this November. An Associated Press poll in the first week of July found that Kerry and Edwards were four percentage points behind Bush and Cheney, although Kerry was doing well in some key states. Thus the prediction that the November elections will be close. It’s not going to be a walk in the park for Kerry and Edwards.

Some might find the uncertainty of US voters and even the persistence of much of Bush’s support difficult to understand, and might well argue that “anyone but Bush” would be better for the US and the world. Haven’t Bush’s claims about Weapons of Mass Destruction and Iraqi links to Al Qaida been found to be hogwash? Isn’t he in the middle of a Vietnam-type quagmire in Iraq? Hasn’t his unilateralism undermined the Atlantic alliance and widened the rift between major European powers France and Germany on the one hand and the US on the other? Didn’t Bush’s cavalier regard for the Geneva Conventions lead to the abuses in the US occupation forces’ Abu Ghraib prison? Haven’t Bush’s disastrous economic policies at home cost US workers the loss of more than three million jobs since he became President in 2000?

Despite the “yes” answers to all these questions, the problem seems to be that despite the difference in the rhetoric of Bush and Kerry, there’s a perception that Kerry doesn’t really represent that much of a choice. There’s also the character issue. At least you know where Bush stands and has always stood, despite his fabled intellectual disabilities, his poor work habits, and his corporate cronies. Kerry has been characterized as flexible in his views to the point that no one knows where he stands.

The truth is that despite Bush and Kerry’s efforts to make it appear that their visions and plans are different, not only US leftists but also the mainstream press has had occasion to point out that both actually favor the same solutions to many US domestic and international problems.

The Washington Post, for example, pointed out in a report last May that behind both men’s rhetoric there’s actually “a convergence of views on many issues.” Kerry does say, for example, that he wants to end Bush’s tax cuts which mainly benefit the rich, but he also favors tax cuts for the middle class. Like Bush, he also says he doesn’t favor additional taxes. Bush describes himself as pro-business, but so does Kerry, into whose campaign chest business interests have poured hundreds of millions of dollars in contributions.

As for the critical question of what the US should do about Iraq, Kerry agrees with Bush that the United States must “finish the job,” and maintain its “leadership role in Iraq” (i.e., continue the occupation) by sending in more troops “if necessary”. Kerry also supports more UN authority in Iraq—a position Bush, after the debacle of his go- it- alone policy, now also supports.

The only areas in which the two men substantially disagree are on abortion and health care. Bush is opposed to abortion rights while Kerry supports them. In health care, Kerry favors an ambitious approach in which he would fund a program for health insurance for 27 million people over 10 years. Bush has a less ambitious plan which would cover 2.5 million people.

In fact, “many Republicans and Democrats in recent years have gradually coalesced, in broad terms, around a similar set of ideas: tax cuts instead of tax increases; global trade instead of protectionism; greater accountability in public school classrooms; internationalism instead of isolationism; and deficit reduction, at least as a spoken goal.”

Note the “internationalism” part. The Post reporter doesn’t mention that its core assumption is that the US has the right to intervene anywhere in behalf of its economic and political interests, which some US academics describe coyly via the oxymoron “liberal imperialism.” The only difference between Democrats and Republicans as far as imperial hubris is concerned is the former’s favoring fig-leafing US intervention with UN sanctions, while the latter doesn’t care too much for them, as is evident in Kerry’s emphasizing a UN role in Iraq and elsewhere, and Bush’s reluctance in accepting it.

Thus the recognition that there’s really no fundamental disagreement over policies, only on how to implement them. Why the agreement on domestic and international policies between the two parties? Primarily because those are the policies an electorate focused on its immediate interests and on getting the world to do what the US wants will support.

Historically the party of reform, the Democratic Party has edged closer and closer to the Republican Party’s conservative agenda, among other reasons because of the perception that it’s what will get it into power. Bill Clinton, for example, ran and won on basically the same policies as his Republican rivals in 1992 and 1996.

US elections are thus fought, not over issues, but over who’s the more sincere, and who can best implement his promised solutions to US problems. The Post reporter quotes a Democratic Party strategist as saying that in the coming November elections, “the issue of credibility becomes the issue, not the policy.” Deciding who’s the more credible, Kerry or Bush, could turn on who looks and sounds best in the media, as has happened in past US elections since the 1960s.

US leftists argue that US elections are no more than contests among the political and economic elite, and that the elections this November will be no different. They point out that both Bush and Kerry are from elite families, the former from Texas and the latter from Massachusetts, and that both are in fact graduates of Yale, where both were members of a secret elite society of future power brokers called Skull and Bones.

In addition to agreeing with Bush on key policy issues, they also point out, Kerry’s record doesn’t show any deviation from Bush’s past agenda. US Senator Kerry supported the Bush government’s decision to attack Iraq in 2003, for example, and Kerry also voted for the very tax cuts he now says have benefited only the rich.

If all this sounds familiar, except for certain obvious differences the US elections look like copies (or the originals) of Philippine elections, in which last May there was no visible difference in the solutions to Philippine problems proffered by either Arroyo or Poe (Poe did publish a platform, and it sounded just like Arroyo’s);“sincerity” and looking better than the other side became the issue; and appealing to the worst instincts of the electorate (for example, its celebrity mania) was the sure way to winning the elections without cheating.

But those similarities should be the least of Filipino concerns. No matter who wins in the coming battle between Bush and Kerry, it seems more than likely that basically the same US policies abroad, whether in Iraq or elsewhere, will continue. The difference could be on no more than the approaches a Kerry administration would favor. The belief is thus misplaced that a Kerry victory will mean a scaling down of US efforts to cajole, threaten, blackmail, or buy off “allies” like the Philippines in furtherance of US interests, which at this juncture are focused on consolidating its global dominance. The most Filipinos can expect is a subtler, “multilateral” approach in getting the country to go all the way with the USA.

(Today/abs-cbnNEWS.com)

One thought on “Kerry agrees with Bush

  1. TOMMY SMITH

    good article, not much difference between a democrat and republican exept abortion and few social issues. maybe the tax break for the rich card has been played to many times by the democrats. when they get behind in the polls they will play the race card, to get their black voters worked up. about the jobs issue americans cant blame the president on that. you walk in any store in the usa and pick up a product. most likely it will say made in china. this started long before bush was president. i think when sam walton died, wal mart founder. the made in usa logo that put them in buisness disapeared.
    anyway americans are to blame for the job losses, the consumers.
    china can make the same product,same quality and ship it here and can make a bigger profit.
    kerry said he wouldnt give tax breaks to companies that out source the other day. i can see them now which plant do we shut down this week in usa and move somewhere else so we can make money. operating in the usa to expensive no wonder all the companies are heading for china.

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Friends and enemies

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“Please don’t confuse your enemies with your friends.”

Francis Ricciardone, Manila, July 15, 2004

Filipinos can only agree with US Ambassador to the Philippines Francis Ricciardone. You must know who your friends and enemies are. What’s equally important, you must also know who’re merely pretending to be your friends, but who’re likely to screw you at the first opportunity. (more…)

3 thoughts on “Friends and enemies

  1. Rafael L. Oriel, Jr.

    Aim your gun only to enemies, never to your friends.

    Allies against terrorism must not aim their guns towards any of their partners who suffered temporary setbacks. Like a boxing match, strategies in fighting against terrorism or any other combat against the enemies include backing away when needed and hitting harder in every opportunity. True allies must give moral boost to their friends who encountered temporary stumbling block instead of demoralizing them thus giving them time to plan their next move and the chance to enhance their capacity to resume the fight once the impediment is out of the way.

    Jay Leno’s comment about the Philippine peacekeeping contingent establishing a world record in their speedy withdrawal from Iraq is a portrayal of a misinformed clown who happens to know nothing about Filipinos. Making fun of 96 Filipinos (55 soldiers, 26 policemen and 15 doctors) who risk their life trying to make a difference through peacemaking and peacekeeping is a strong indication that he has more brain in the chin than in the right place.

    The Filipino peacekeepers were ordered to withdraw and fly back home one month ahead of schedule but they left a lasting impression on the Iraqi people for successfully accomplishing 67 major and 24 minor projects that include construction of footbridges and public health centers, training of more than two thousands Iraqis in law enforcement and distribution of relief goods.

    For their 11-month heroic services as compassionate volunteers helping rebuild the war-torn country and ease the pain of a suffering people caused by the war, the Philippine humanitarian contingent withdrawn from Iraq deserve commendation instead of being made a laughing stock by clowns like Jay Leno who thinks being beheaded is just a joke and funny. Just for laughs, the kidnappers must put jokers like Jay Leno in the shoes of Angelo de la Cruz. As a hostage threatened to be beheaded, Jay Leno’s chin will surely run faster than his brain while simultaneously shitting and peeing on his pants, a world record too hard to break that will certainly make the people around the world continuously laughing to tears long enough to make it to the Guinness Book of World Records.

    Jay Leno belittled what 96 Filipino peacekeepers (55 soldiers, 26 policemen and 15 doctors) can do by saying that P. Diddy has a bigger posse than that. I suggest that Jay Leno, P.Diddy and his posse will replace the Philippine contingent to Iraq so people will know if they can do better in helping the Iraqis or what new world record they can set for the 100-meter dash.

    Jay Leno does not realize that there is something a Filipino can singlehandedly do in a matter of minutes that can make an impact in his television show far greater than the whole group of P. Diddy can make by merely asking through the internet millions of people around the world to boycott his show or change channel to other show host like Conan O’Brien or David Letterman. It will be easy to convince people to do it; he is boring anyway compared to other late night show host.

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