Bush vs Kerry – DPF’s view

The polls now open in around twelve hours, so it seems timely to finally blog my views on who would be the better President – George W Bush or John F Kerry.

I am judging them on ten criteria, giving each a mark out of ten, so each gets a percentage total score. The criteria are:

1) Fiscal Management
2) Free Trade
3) Response to Sept 11
4) War in Iraq
5) Judicial Appointments
6) Foreign Relations
7) Moral Issues
8) Taxes
9) Consistency
10) Tolerance

My ratings below:

1) Fiscal Management

Bush has run deficits almost beyond comprehension. Sure one needed to spend some money in response to September 11, but there has also been many non core programmes greatly expanded at a time when they can not be afforded.

The US Public Debt is almost US$7.5 trillion and is increasing at $1.67 billion a day. Bush’s last budget had a US$521 billion deficit on spending of $2.4 trillion. This is equal in NZ of us having a $10 billion deficit on our expenditure of $40 billion – unthinkable.

So Bush gets 2/10. Kerry in my opinion would not be much better, but he could never get that deficit through a Republican Congress. On the basis of innocent until proven guilty Kerry gets 5/10.

2) Free Trade

Neither candidate practices much in the way of free trade, but at least Bush pays some lip service to it. And the Australian free trade agreement was better than nothing.

Kerry is effectively campaigning against free trade so he gets 3/10 to Bush who gets 5/10.

3) Response to Sept 11

Bush’s response at the time was stunning. His address to Congress made my neck tingle. He was resolute and determined and showed leadership we unfortunately only see in war time.

Within days Pakistan had come into line, even Iran was offering assistance and Bush outlined a doctrine which realistically is the only sensible one you can have – pre-emptive action.

We forget now that many predicted the war in Afghanistan to be an absolute disaster, a new Vietnam. Fisk and others warned it had resisted all occupations for 500 years. The victory in Afghanistan was achieved with almost no allied loss of life, and they have just had their first elections. Only the capture of Bin Laden stops an even higher score. I give Bush 9/10.

What would a President Kerry have done? Who knows? I would hope any holder of the office will rise to the occasion, but I can’t give him more than 6/10.

4) War in Iraq

I have doubts over whether the war in Iraq was a good idea. This is with the benefit of hindsight regarding the flawed intelligence. It was certainly a reasonable decision to have made on the facts known at the time, but also one that could reasonably have been delayed. However now knowing about how Saddam was bribing half the Security Council, I think a war would have been inevitable.

It is still too early to see how well Iraq turns out. At this stage I judge it more positive than negative and give Bush 6/10.

Kerry is all over the place on this issue. I’ll respect an honest anti war dude like Howard Dean but Kerry really has flip-flopped on this issue. The fact he actually voted against the 1991 War (which had near universal support) makes me think he actually agrees with Howard Dean but is too afraid to say so. Kerry gets 3/10.

5) Judicial Appointments

Scalia as Chief Justice. 9/10. Kerry 4/10 as he will not be able to appoint extreme left wing Judges, otherwise even lower.

6) Foreign Relations

The US is the superpower on the planet, and it is useful to have a President who does not become a beacon for anti Americanism everywhere. Bush has not done a great job with foreign relations since the immediate post September 11 period. Clinton was a genius as sticking it to other countries, but looking like he really hates doing it!

A Kerry presidency would do much to improve relations around the globe. Kerry gets 7/10 and Bush 4/10.

7) Moral Issues

My American friends can never understand that not only is abortion not an issue here, it hasn’t been since the 1970s. On most issues like abortion, gay, stem cell research I am on the liberal side of the equation.

Bush himself is reasonably progressive. His compromise on stem cell research was not a bad one and he sort of supports civil unions. He only came out on the stupid constitutional amendment to because Judges kept changing the law unilaterally, and to keep the religious right happy.

So I give Bush 5/10 and Kerry 7/10.

8) Taxes

Bush has lowered taxes. He just should have lowered spending also. Bush gets 8/10. Kerry has voted to raise taxes whenever possible. Kerry is 4/10.

9) Consistency

In NZ politics the only people I really do not like are the candidates who will say anything to get elected, and just pick National or Labour on the basis of which one they can rise easiest in. I like the left wingers I know who are in Labour etc, but can not stand the ones who are in National. I admire consistency and courage of convictions. This is not to say following blind ideology, but to at least have same core convictions you will stand by.

Bush does better here at 7/10. I like his consistency. Kerry is Ted Kennedy in drag – he pretends to be moderate when he is really the most left wing Senator in the Senate. And if I hear him mention his Vietnam record once more to escape criticism of his voting record on security issues, I will hurl. Kerry gets 2/10.

10) Tolerance

Tolerance in this case is about respecting other people’s views. Now I don’t know any Republicans who really think that Kerry being elected President will be the end of the world. They sure as hell don’t want him, but they don’t hate their opponents (except maybe Ann Coulter does).

The Kerry supporters are to a far larger degree, well deranged. They absolutely loathe Bush and the Republicans. They think Bush is Hitler and he must be stopped no matter what. They can not imagine how anyone can intelligently support Bush so they convince themselves all Bush supporters are ignorant or misguided.

If Bush wins, I will be full of joy that his re-election will piss so many of the deranged partisans off. It will keep a smile on my face for days to come. If Kerry wins, I will feel disappointment for my colleagues and friends in the US, some nervousness over how this will affect Iraq (which can not be allowed to fail) but not lose a lot of sleep.

On tolerance Bush and his supporters get 6/10 and Kerry gets 3/10.

OVERALL RATINGS

Well adding it all up we have:

George W Bush 61%
John F Kerry 44%

So overall I do prefer a Bush presidency. I don’t have Kerry as a disaster (below 30% would be that) but what would be really nice is to have a mainstream candidate who scored over 75% – now that would be great.

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