KERRY: ... let me just say...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me ask you another question right now...
STEPHANOPOULOS: ... because, Senator, Howard Wolfson -- excuse me. Let me just ask you another question. Howard Wolfson, Senator Clintonâ€™s former communications director, said that this pick might just work to draw women to the Republican ticket. Are you worried about that?
KERRY: Well, with all due respect to Howard, you know, I have much more respect for the Clinton supporters than that sort of quick-blush take with -- I mean, how stupid do they think the Clinton supporters are, for Heaven sakes?
Do they think Clinton supporters supported Hillary only because she was a woman. For Heaven sakes, they supported Hillary because of all the things sheâ€™s fought for, because she fights for health care, which John McCain doesnâ€™t support; she fights for children and childrenâ€™s health care, which John McCain voted against; she fights for a windfall profits tax on the oil company, which John McCain opposes.
I mean, for Heaven sakes, the people who supported Hillary Clinton are not going to be seduced just because John McCain has picked a woman. Theyâ€™re going to look at what she supports.
The fact that she doesnâ€™t even support the notion that climate change is manmade -- sheâ€™s back there with the Flat Earth Caucus. And I donâ€™t see how those women are going to be fooled into believing -- I think itâ€™s almost insulting to the Hillary supporters that they believe they would support somebody who is against almost everything that they believe in.
STEPHANOPOULOS: OK. KERRY: What John McCain has proven with this choice -- this is very important, George. John McCain wanted to choose Tom Ridge. He wanted to choose Joe Lieberman. He wanted to choose another candidate, but you know what? Rush Limbaugh and the right wing vetoed it.
And John McCain was forced to come back and pick a sort of Cheney-esque social conservative whoâ€™s going to satisfy the base.
What John McCain has proven with this choice is that John McCain is the prisoner of the right wing, not a maverick.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Kerry, Iâ€™m afraid thatâ€™s all we have time for today. Thank you very much for your time.
KERRY: Thank you.
"Lawyers Say They'll Challenge Election Results" -- Andrew Welsh-Huggins (AP) in the Canton Repository, 11/20/04:
COLUMBUS -- Lawyers who have been documenting voting day problems in Ohio say theyâ€™ll challenge the results of the presidential election as soon as the vote is official.
The lawyers say documented cases of long lines, a shortage of machines and a pattern of problems in predominantly black neighborhoods are enough evidence to bring such a challenge.
"The objective is to get to the truth," said Cliff Arnebeck, a lawyer who said heâ€™ll represent voters who cast ballots Nov. 2. Arnebeck said the effort is bipartisan.
"Whatâ€™s critically important, whether itâ€™s President Bush or Sen. Kerry, whoeverâ€™s been actually elected, is to know you won by an honest election," he said. "So itâ€™s in the interest of both sides as American citizens to know the truth and to have this answered."
Ohio Republican Party chairman Bob Bennett said it was a joke that the effort was being billed as bipartisan.
"This is nothing but an absurd attempt by a handful of radical front groups to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the Bush presidency. The election is over, the Democrats have conceded and the outcome will not change," Bennett said in a statement.
"This is an egregious waste of time and taxpayer money. Itâ€™s time to move on."
More than 200 people in Columbus voiced their complaints Nov. 13 about voting problems on Election Day, some accusing the state of voter suppression. Many were Kerry supporters.
A similar hearing was scheduled Friday in Cleveland.
The Columbus hearing was organized by Robert Fitrakis, a lawyer and political science professor at Columbus State Community College, who is also involved in filing the challenge.
"The sworn statements that weâ€™ve received should give everyone cause to go forward in terms of this inquiry," Fitrakis said.
Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell will certify the election results by Dec. 6, spokesman Carlo LoParo said Friday.
A ruling in favor of the challenge could lead to a recount or even having the results set aside, although Arnebeck hinted that such an event was unlikely.
A statewide recount of the presidential vote is already inevitable because a pair of third-party candidates said they have collected enough money to pay for it.
Libertarian Michael Badnarik and the Green Partyâ€™s David Cobb said Monday they raised more than $150,000 in four days, mostly in small contributions. Ohio law requires payment of $10 per precinct for a recount, or $113,600 statewide.
I work with statistics and polling data every day. Something rubbed me the wrong way. I checked the exit polls for Florida--all wrong. CNN's results indicated a Kerry win: turnout matched voter registration, and independents had broken 59% to 41% for Kerry.
Polling is an imprecise science. Yet its very imprecision is itself quantifiable and follows regular patterns. Differences between actual results and those expected from polling data must be explainable by identifiable factors if the polling sample is robust enough. With almost 3.000 respondents in Florida alone, the CNN poll sample was pretty robust.
The first signs of the rat were identified by Kathy Dopp, who conducted a simple analysis of voter registrations by party in Florida and compared them to presidential vote results. Basically she multiplied the total votes cast in a county by the percentage of voters registered Republican: this gave an expected Republican vote. She then compared this to the actual result.
Her analysis is startling. Certain counties voted for Bush far in excess of what one would expect based on the share of Republican registrations in that county. They key phrase is "certain counties"--there is extraordinary variance between individual counties. Most counties fall more or less in line with what one would expect based on the share of Republican registrations, but some differ wildly.
How to explain this incredible variance? Dopp found one over-riding factor: whether the county used electronic touch-screen voting, or paper ballots which were optically scanned into a computer. All of those with touch-screen voting had results relatively in line with her expected results, while all of those with extreme variance were in counties with optical scanning.
The intimation, clearly, is fraud. Ballots are scanned; results are fed into precinct computers; these are sent to a county-wide database, whose results are fed into the statewide electoral totals. At any point after physical ballots become databases, the system is vulnerable to external hackers.
It seemed too easy, and Dopp's method seemed simplistic. I re-ran the results using CNN's exit polling data. In each county, I took the number of registrations and assigned correctional factors based on the CNN poll to predict turnout among Republicans, Democrats, and independents. I then used the vote shares from the polls to predict a likely number of Republican votes per county. I compared this â€˜expected' Republican vote to the actual Republican vote.
The results are shocking. Overall, Bush received 2% fewer votes in counties with electronic touch-screen voting than expected. In counties with optical scanning, he received 16% more. This 16% would not be strange if it were spread across counties more or less evenly. It is not. In 11 different counties, the â€˜actual' Bush vote was at least twice higher than the expected vote. 13 counties had Bush vote tallies 50--100% higher than expected. In one county where 88% of voters are registered Democrats, Bush got nearly two thirds of the vote--three times more than predicted by my model.
Again, polling can be wrong. It is difficult to believe it can be that wrong. Fortunately, however, we can test how wrong it would have to be to give the â€˜actual' result.
I tested two alternative scenarios to see how wrong CNN would have to have been to explain the election result. In the first, I assumed they had been wildly off the mark in the turnout figures--i.e. far more Republicans and independents had come out than Democrats. In the second I assumed the voting shares were completely wrong, and that the Republicans had been able to massively poach voters from the Democrat base.
In the first scenario, I assumed 90% of Republicans and independents voted, and the remaining ballots were cast by Democrats. This explains the result in counties with optical scanning to within 5%. However, in this scenario Democratic turnout would have been only 51% in the optical scanning counties--barely exceeding half of Republican turnout. It also does not solve the enormous problems in individual counties. 7 counties in this scenario still have actual vote tallies for Bush that are at least 100% higher than predicted by the model--an extremely unlikely result.
In the second scenario I assumed that Bush had actually got 100% of the vote from Republicans and 50% from independents (versus CNN polling results which were 93% and 41% respectively). If this gave enough votes for Bush to explain the county's results, I left the amount of Democratic registered voters ballots cast for Bush as they were predicted by CNN (14% voted for Bush). If this did not explain the result, I calculated how many Democrats would have to vote for Bush.
In 41 of 52 counties, this did not explain the result and Bush must have gotten more than CNN's predicted 14% of Democratic ballots--not an unreasonable assumption by itself. However, in 21 counties more than 50% of Democratic votes would have to have defected to Bush to account for the county result--in four counties, at least 70% would have been required. These results are absurdly unlikely.
The second rat
A previously undiscovered species of rat, Republicanus cuyahogus, has been found in Ohio. Before the election, I wrote snide letters to a state legislator for Cuyahoga county who, according to media reports, was preparing an army of enforcers to keep â€˜suspect' (read: minority) voters away from the polls. One of his assistants wrote me back very pleasant mails to the effect that they had no intention of trying to suppress voter turnout, and in fact only wanted to encourage people to vote.
They did their job too well. According to the official statistics for Cuyahoga county, a number of precincts had voter turnout well above the national average: in fact, turnout was well over 100% of registered voters, and in several cases well above the total number of people who have lived in the precinct in the last century or so.
In 30 precincts, more ballots were cast than voters were registered in the county. According to county regulations, voters must cast their ballot in the precinct in which they are registered. Yet in these thirty precincts, nearly 100.000 more people voted than are registered to vote -- this out of a total of 251.946 registrations. These are not marginal differences--this is a 39% over-vote. In some precincts the over-vote was well over 100%. One precinct with 558 registered voters cast nearly 9,000 ballots. As one astute observer noted, it's the ballot-box equivalent of Jesus' miracle of the fishes. Bush being such a man of God, perhaps we should not be surprised.
What to do?
This is not an idle statistical exercise. Either the raw data from two critical battleground states is completely erroneous, or something has gone horribly awry in our electoral system--again. Like many Americans, I was dissatisfied with and suspicious of the way the Florida recount was resolved in 2000. But at the same time, I was convinced of one thing: we must let the system work, and accept its result, no matter how unjust it might appear.
With this acceptance, we placed our implicit faith in the Bush Administration that it would not abuse its position: that it would recognize its fragile mandate for what it was, respect the will of the majority of people who voted against them, and move to build consensus wherever possible and effect change cautiously when needed. Above all, we believed that both Democrats and Republicans would recognize the over-riding importance of revitalizing the integrity of the electoral system and healing the bruised faith of both constituencies.
This faith has been shattered. Bush has not led the nation to unity, but ruled through fear and division. Dishonesty and deceit in areas critical to the public interest have been the hallmark of his Administration. I state this not to throw gratuitous insults, but to place the Florida and Ohio electoral results in their proper context. For the GOP to claim now that we must take anything on faith, let alone astonishingly suspicious results in a hard-fought and extraordinarily bitter election, is pure fantasy. It does not even merit discussion.
The facts as I see them now defy all logical explanations save one--massive and systematic vote fraud. We cannot accept the result of the 2004 presidential election as legitimate until these discrepancies are rigorously and completely explained. From the Valerie Plame case to the horrors of Abu Ghraib, George Bush has been reluctant to seek answers and assign accountability when it does not suit his purposes. But this is one time when no American should accept not getting a straight answer. Until then, George Bush is still, and will remain, the â€˜Accidental President' of 2000. One of his many enduring and shameful legacies will be that of seizing power through two illegitimate elections conducted on his brother's watch, and engineering a fundamental corruption at the very heart of the greatest democracy the world has known. We must not permit this to happen again.
"An Electoral Affirmation of Shared Values" -- Todd Purdum, The New York Times, 11/3/04:
It was not a landslide, or a re-alignment, or even a seismic shock. But it was decisive, and it is impossible to read President Bush's re-election with larger Republican majorities in both houses of Congress as anything other than the clearest confirmation yet that this is a center-right country - divided yes, but with an undisputed majority united behind his leadership.
Surveys of voters leaving the polls found that a majority believed the national economy was not so good, that tax cuts had done nothing to help it and that the war in Iraq had jeopardized national security. But fully one-fifth of voters said they cared most about "moral values" - as many as cared about terrorism and the economy - and 8 in 10 of them chose Mr. Bush.
Diane Arbus, Child with a Toy Hand Grenade (1962).
In other words, while Mr. Bush remains a polarizing figure on both coasts and in big cities, he has proved himself a galvanizing one in the broad geographic and political center of the country. He increased his share of the vote among women, Hispanics, older voters and even city dwellers significantly from 2000, made slight gains among Catholics and Jews and turned what was then a 500,000-popular-vote defeat into a 3.6 million-popular-vote victory on Tuesday. . . .
The biggest questions now may be about just what parts of that agenda Mr. Bush will choose to pursue, and just how many fights he will take on with either his liberal opponents or his conservative supporters.
Will Mr. Bush move to create private investment accounts for Social Security, a move that would follow through on an idea he first broached four years ago, gratify free-market ideologues but discomfit fiscal conservatives worried about how he would pay for them and practical politicians fearful of simply touching such a hot issue? Will he pick confirmation fights over anti-abortion judges, or press for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage? Or neither? Or both?
Yesterday, Mr. Bush sounded a conciliatory note. "A new term is a new opportunity to reach out to the whole nation," he said. "We have one country, one Constitution, and one future that binds us." Mr. Cheney's daughter Mary and her longtime partner, Heather Poe, appeared together at the victory rally.
The power of second-term presidents tends to dissipate quickly and Mr. Bush's will be limited at the outset because he will still be five Republican votes shy of the 60 needed in the Senate to stop a Democratic filibuster.
Senator Arlen Specter, the moderate Pennsylvania Republican expected to head the Judiciary Committee, warned Mr. Bush yesterday against nominating judges "who would change the right of a woman to choose, overturn Roe v. Wade."
James A. Thurber, director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University, said that for all the Republican gains, "the other story is that the nation is deadlocked, especially in the Senate, over what the most important issues are and how we deal with them."
But Grover Norquist, president of the conservative group Americans for Tax Reform, said that the Republican Party was no longer what it was 25 or 30 years ago, "a collection of people running on their own." Instead, Mr. Norquist said, "there is a coherent vision, and to a large extent voters can tell that Republicans are not going to raise their taxes, are for tort reform, are for free trade."
He said that without the drag of the war in Iraq, Mr. Bush would probably have rolled up a bigger majority.
As it is, Mr. Bush became the first presidential candidate to win more than 50 percent of the popular vote since his father did so in 1988, and he received a higher percentage of the popular vote than any Democratic candidate since Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964.
All those are daunting numbers for the Democrats. Early in his campaign, Mr. Kerry drew fire for musing aloud that the Democrats could win the White House without the South.
Yet for all of their hope that the Southwest could be their new ticket, Democrats were left with the fact that in the past 28 years, only Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton among their ranks have made it, and both had Southern and evangelical support. Mr. Kerry, a lifelong Roman Catholic, often struggled this year to speak of his faith in public.
"Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter got elected because they were comfortable with their faith," said Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, a former Clinton aide. "What happened was that a part of the electorate came open to what Clinton and Carter had to say on everything else - health care, the environment, whatever - because they were very comfortable that Clinton and Carter did not disdain the way these people lived their lives, but respected them."
He added: "We need a nominee and a party that is comfortable with faith and values. And if we have one, then all the hard work we've done on Social Security or America's place in the world or college education can be heard. But people aren't going to hear what we say until they know that we don't approach them as Margaret Mead would an anthropological experiment."
Exit poll data at CNN.com.
|MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE||BUSH||KERRY|
|Health Care (8%)||22%||78%|
|Moral Values (22%)||79%||18%|
|SIZE OF COMMUNITY||BUSH||KERRY|
"Kerry Concedes Race to Bush" -- Calvin Woodward and Ron Fournier (AP) in The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 11/3/04:
President Bush won a second term from a divided and anxious nation, his promise of steady, strong wartime leadership trumping John Kerry's fresh-start approach to Iraq and joblessness. After a long, tense night of vote counting, the Democrat called Bush today to concede Ohio and the presidency, The Associated Press learned.
Kerry ended his quest, concluding one of the most expensive and bitterly contested races on record, with a call to the president shortly after 10 a.m. Minnesota time, according to two officials familiar with the conversation.
"Voting Story" -- Paul Ford at ftrain.com, 11/1/04:
I was talking with a good friend of mine about the weather. "Vote," she said.
"Vote?" I said. "Vote vote vote vote, vote vote."
We talked about how tired we both had become. "Vote vote vote vote, vote vote," I said. "Vote," she replied, commiserating.
I thought about it for a moment. "Vote," I said. "Vote, vote vote." She nodded in agreement.
"Bush Endorses Kerry" -- Newshounds.us, 10/27/04:
At a GOP campaign event in Lancaster, PA, Bush said: "This investigation is important & it's ongoing, & a political candidate who jumps to conclusions without knowing the facts is not a person you want as your commander in chief." The crowd cheered, as they always do.
"36 Papers Abandon Bush for Kerry" -- Howard Kurtz in The Washington Post, 10/27/04:
The Orlando Sentinel has backed every Republican seeking the White House since Richard M. Nixon in 1968. Not this time.
"This president has utterly failed to fulfill our expectations," the Florida paper said in supporting John F. Kerry, prompting some angry calls and a few dozen cancellations.
"A lot of people thought they could trust that the Sentinel would always go Republican, and when that didn't happen, they felt betrayed," said Jane Healy, the paper's editorial page editor.
The Sentinel is among 36 newspapers that endorsed President Bush four years ago and have flip-flopped, to coin a phrase, into Kerry's corner. These include the Chicago Sun-Times, the Los Angeles Daily News and the Memphis Commercial Appeal, according to industry magazine Editor & Publisher. Bush has won over only six papers that backed Al Gore, including the Denver Post, which received 700 letters -- all of them protesting the move.
Nine more papers, including the Cleveland Plain Dealer yesterday, abandoned Bush after four years but did not support the Massachusetts senator. Instead, these papers -- the Detroit News, the Tampa Tribune and the New Orleans Times-Picayune among them -- threw up their collective hands and made no endorsement.
"Kerry for President" -- editorial, The Orlando Sentinel, 10/25/04:
Four years ago, the Orlando Sentinel endorsed Republican George W. Bush for president based on our trust in him to unite America. We expected him to forge bipartisan solutions to problems while keeping this nation secure and fiscally sound.
This president has utterly failed to fulfill our expectations. We turn now to his Democratic challenger, Sen. John Kerry, with the belief that he is more likely to meet the hopes we once held for Mr. Bush.
Our choice was not dictated by partisanship. Already this election season, the Sentinel has endorsed Republican Mel Martinez for the U.S. Senate and four U.S. House Republicans. In 2002, we backed Republican Gov. Jeb Bush for re-election, repeating our endorsement of four years earlier. Indeed, it has been 40 years since the Sentinel endorsed a Democrat -- Lyndon Johnson -- for president. . . .
Mr. Bush has abandoned the core values we thought we shared with him -- keeping the nation strong while ensuring that its government is limited, accountable and fiscally responsible.
We trust Mr. Kerry not to make the mistakes Mr. Bush has.
Mr. Kerry's two decades of experience in the U.S. Senate have given him a solid grounding in both foreign and domestic policy. There is no disputing his liberal record representing Massachusetts, but we believe he has moved to the middle. In this campaign, he has put forth a moderate platform with fiscal discipline at its core.
Despite his differences with Mr. Bush over the wisdom of the war, Mr. Kerry recognizes the imperative of securing and stabilizing Iraq. He would intensify efforts to enlist more foreign help, and speed up training of Iraqi forces and reconstruction in the country.
Mr. Kerry would bolster national security by adding 40,000 troops to the overstretched U.S. military, and doubling its special forces. He would accelerate the program that secures nuclear material in the former Soviet Union before it can fall into the hands of terrorists.
Mr. Kerry would enhance homeland security by doing more to protect ports and other vulnerable facilities. Unlike Mr. Bush, he understands that government accountability and civil liberties must not be needlessly compromised in the name of the war on terrorism.
Mr. Kerry's health plan would extend coverage to 27 million Americans, more than three times as many as Mr. Bush's plan. Contrary to what the president has been saying on the campaign trail, Mr. Kerry's plan would be voluntary, and include private-sector options for coverage.
Also to Mr. Kerry's credit, he has pledged to strengthen environmental protections. His energy plan would do far more to promote conservation and alternative fuels.
Mr. Kerry proposes to pay for all of his plans, primarily by repealing tax cuts for Americans earning more than $200,000. He has not called for tax increases on middle-income Americans.
Mr. Kerry has committed himself to reinstating pay-as-you-go rules that helped turn deficits into surpluses during the 1990s. Such rules would force him to scale back his plans if he can't pay for them.
In sum, we believe Mr. Kerry would be a more bipartisan and effective leader than Mr. Bush. In the Nov. 2 general election, the Sentinel endorses John Kerry for president of the United States.
"Bush Supporters Still Believe Iraq Had WMD or Major Program, Supported al Qaeda" -- Program on International Policy Attitudes, University of Maryland, 10/21/04 (full report as PDF):
Even after the final report of Charles Duelfer to Congress saying that Iraq did not have a significant WMD program, 72% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq had actual WMD (47%) or a major program for developing them (25%). Fifty-six percent assume that most experts believe Iraq had actual WMD and 57% also assume, incorrectly, that Duelfer concluded Iraq had at least a major WMD program. Kerry supporters hold opposite beliefs on all these points.
Similarly, 75% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda, and 63% believe that clear evidence of this support has been found. Sixty percent of Bush supporters assume that this is also the conclusion of most experts, and 55% assume, incorrectly, that this was the conclusion of the 9/11 Commission. Here again, large majorities of Kerry supporters have exactly opposite perceptions.
These are some of the findings of a new study of the differing perceptions of Bush and Kerry supporters, conducted by the Program on International Policy Attitudes and Knowledge Networks, based on polls conducted in September and October.
Steven Kull, director of PIPA, comments, "One of the reasons that Bush supporters have these beliefs is that they perceive the Bush administration confirming them. Interestingly, this is one point on which Bush and Kerry supporters agree." Eighty-two percent of Bush supporters perceive the Bush administration as saying that Iraq had WMD (63%) or that Iraq had a major WMD program (19%). Likewise, 75% say that the Bush administration is saying Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda. Equally large majorities of Kerry supporters hear the Bush administration expressing these views--73% say the Bush administration is saying Iraq had WMD (11% a major program) and 74% that Iraq was substantially supporting al Qaeda.
Steven Kull adds, "Another reason that Bush supporters may hold to these beliefs is that they have not accepted the idea that it does not matter whether Iraq had WMD or supported al Qaeda. Here too they are in agreement with Kerry supporters." Asked whether the US should have gone to war with Iraq if US intelligence had concluded that Iraq was not making WMD or providing support to al Qaeda, 58% of Bush supporters said the US should not have, and 61% assume that in this case the President would not have. Kull continues, "To support the president and to accept that he took the US to war based on mistaken assumptions likely creates substantial cognitive dissonance, and leads Bush supporters to suppress awareness of unsettling information about prewar Iraq."
This tendency of Bush supporters to ignore dissonant information extends to other realms as well. Despite an abundance of evidence--including polls conducted by Gallup International in 38 countries, and more recently by a consortium of leading newspapers in 10 major countries--only 31% of Bush supporters recognize that the majority of people in the world oppose the US having gone to war with Iraq. Forty-two percent assume that views are evenly divided, and 26% assume that the majority approves. Among Kerry supporters, 74% assume that the majority of the world is opposed.
Similarly, 57% of Bush supporters assume that the majority of people in the world would favor Bush's reelection; 33% assumed that views are evenly divided and only 9% assumed that Kerry would be preferred. A recent poll by GlobeScan and PIPA of 35 of the major countries around the world found that in 30, a majority or plurality favored Kerry, while in just 3 Bush was favored. On average, Kerry was preferred more than two to one.
Bush supporters also have numerous misperceptions about Bush's international policy positions. Majorities incorrectly assume that Bush supports multilateral approaches to various international issues--the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (69%), the treaty banning land mines (72%)--and for addressing the problem of global warming: 51% incorrectly assume he favors US participation in the Kyoto treaty. After he denounced the International Criminal Court in the debates, the perception that he favored it dropped from 66%, but still 53% continue to believe that he favors it. An overwhelming 74% incorrectly assumes that he favors including labor and environmental standards in trade agreements. In all these cases, majorities of Bush supporters favor the positions they impute to Bush. Kerry supporters are much more accurate in their perceptions of his positions on these issues.
"Addicted to 9/11" -- Thomas L. Friedman in The New York Times, 10/14/04:
I don't know whether to laugh or cry when I hear the president and vice president slamming John Kerry for saying that he hopes America can eventually get back to a place where "terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance." The idea that President Bush and Mr. Cheney would declare such a statement to be proof that Mr. Kerry is unfit to lead actually says more about them than Mr. Kerry. Excuse me, I don't know about you, but I dream of going back to the days when terrorism was just a nuisance in our lives.
If I have a choice, I prefer not to live the rest of my life with the difference between a good day and bad day being whether Homeland Security tells me it is "code red" or "code orange" outside. To get inside the Washington office of the International Monetary Fund the other day, I had to show my ID, wait for an escort and fill out a one-page form about myself and my visit. I told my host: "Look, I don't want a loan. I just want an interview." Somewhere along the way we've gone over the top and lost our balance.
That's why Mr. Kerry was actually touching something many Americans are worried about - that this war on terrorism is transforming us and our society, when it was supposed to be about uprooting the terrorists and transforming their societies.
The Bush team's responses to Mr. Kerry's musings are revealing because they go to the very heart of how much this administration has become addicted to 9/11. The president has exploited the terrorism issue for political ends - trying to make it into another wedge issue like abortion, guns or gay rights - to rally the Republican base and push his own political agenda. But it is precisely this exploitation of 9/11 that has gotten him and the country off-track, because it has not only created a wedge between Republicans and Democrats, it's also created a wedge between America and the rest of the world, between America and its own historical identity, and between the president and common sense.
By exploiting the emotions around 9/11, Mr. Bush took a far-right agenda on taxes, the environment and social issues - for which he had no electoral mandate - and drove it into a 9/12 world. In doing so, Mr. Bush made himself the most divisive and polarizing president in modern history.
By using 9/11 to justify launching a war in Iraq without U.N. support, Mr. Bush also created a huge wedge between America and the rest of the world. I sympathize with the president when he says he would never have gotten a U.N. consensus for a strategy of trying to get at the roots of terrorism by reshaping the Arab-Muslim regimes that foster it - starting with Iraq.
But in politicizing 9/11, Mr. Bush drove a wedge between himself and common sense when it came to implementing his Iraq strategy. After failing to find any W.M.D. in Iraq, he became so dependent on justifying the Iraq war as the response to 9/11 - a campaign to bring freedom and democracy to the Arab-Muslim world - that he refused to see reality in Iraq. The president seemed to be saying to himself, "Something so good and right as getting rid of Saddam can't possibly be going so wrong." Long after it was obvious to anyone who visited Iraq that we never had enough troops there to establish order, Mr. Bush simply ignored reality. When pressed on Iraq, he sought cover behind 9/11 and how it required "tough decisions" - as if the tough decision to go to war in Iraq, in the name of 9/11, should make him immune to criticism over how he conducted the war.
Lastly, politicizing 9/11 put a wedge between us and our history. The Bush team has turned this country into "The United States of Fighting Terrorism." "Bush only seems able to express our anger, not our hopes," said the Mideast expert Stephen P. Cohen. "His whole focus is on an America whose role in the world is to negate the negation of the terrorists. But America has always been about the affirmation of something positive. That is missing today. Beyond Afghanistan, they've been much better at destruction than construction."
I wish Mr. Kerry were better able to articulate how America is going to get its groove back. But the point he was raising about wanting to put terrorism back into perspective is correct. I want a president who can one day restore Sept. 11th to its rightful place on the calendar: as the day after Sept. 10th and before Sept. 12th. I do not want it to become a day that defines us. Because ultimately Sept. 11th is about them - the bad guys - not about us. We're about the Fourth of July.
Electoral-vote.com tallies state-level polls as they are released and maps them. You can move through the reports and watch states turn pink and baby blue. The New York Times 2004 Election Guide is an interactive map of the presidential, congressional, and gubernatorial races. Pleasure Boat Captains for Truth. The presidential election at pollingreport.com. Systematic Bias by Polling Organisation, as measured at goringe.net. Electoral College Meta-Analysis by Sam Wang. A manipulable electoral college map. Larry Sabato’s election website. Stephen Lorimor’s election website. Dale’s Electoral College Breakdown 2004.
Bush’s “hometown” newspaper endorses Kerry. Re: elections, Kenneth Arrow’s impossibility theorem on Wikipedia. Electionmethods.org. Republicans know less about what Bush stands for than Democrats know about what Kerry stands for. More electoral college forecasts: Pollkatz’s Electoral Landscape, RealClear Politics, and
Rasmussen Reports’s Red Blue Chart. A BBC international presidential preference poll. The Election Incident Reporting System’s map of nationwide election incidents.