October 7, 2004

Hard decisions mean hard consequences

I've been thinking a lot lately about President Bush's repeated phrase: "being president is hard work that requires hard choices." And this morning, I've been thinking about the weapons inspection report and what happens when you make hard decisions that are wrong. It's a personal concern, because I was raised in a family where my parents frequently told me that you must make decisions in your life and making decisions means accepting the consequences of those decisions. I always imagined that to be a "conservative" value. We were a family proud of its conservatism, and this was one of the extensions of that conservativism. This logic is frequently used as justification for reducing welfare support, banning abortion, supporting the death penalty, etc. Accepting consequences is one of the unchanging principles of which conservatives are so proud. It's the foundation of a philosophy of Truth.

Here we are, though. President Bush made a hard decision. He decided to preemptively begin a war with Iraq based on flawed intelligence. He made a hard choice that after further information was gathered, was unjustified. Consider the case now. We attacked a country and began forcing it to change based on the following:

  1. We thought Saddam Hussein had militarily significant amounts of WMD.
  2. We thought Saddam Hussein had connections to Al-Qaeda.
  3. We speculated that Saddam Hussein was within reach of reestablishing a nuclear weapons program.

Republicans have been flooding the media with criticisms of Kerry's verbal "faux pas" that preemptive strikes need to meet "some kind of global test." Kerry's campaign has not adequately responded, in my mind, to this charge. What is the "global test"? Let me tell you. It is a preponderance of evidence. Preemptive war should be the result of undisuptable evidence of which we have many sources and much support. That, I believe, is what Senator Kerry was trying to say. And that makes sense to me.

Yes. President Bush was not presented with hard, clear evidence. I'm even willing to say that I believe that President Bush believed he was making a "hard choice" that placed confidence in the available intelligence. But the intelligence got it wrong. The decision was wrong.

This no longer an election about whether Kerry would have run a "better" war on terror. It is an election about taking the consequences associated with making hard choices. If conservatives believe that you must accept those consequences, then there is now way they can justify voting for this President in the upcoming election. Yes, President Bush made a clear, confident choice. The choice was the wrong one. There are consequences for making the wrong choice. In this case, the consequence is that you are removed from office.

This is no longer an election about Senator Kerry. It is an election about accepting consequences. The Bush-Cheney campaign is trying to argue that by holding the president accountable for his decision we will put the nation at risk. That sounds more like trying to avoid taking responsibility. Senator Kerry has more national security experience than President Bush did when he took office. Kerry is not a threat to our national security. Bush had to make that concession in the first presidential debate.

The fact of the matter is that President Bush is undermining one of the most fundamental of conservative values this election. Conservatives should hold his feet to the fire for that. The way I was raised, when you make hard decisions, you must accept the hard consequences. President Bush has not done that, and so we must do it for him.

Probably most people reading this don't need this to be said. I felt, though, that I needed to write it.

Posted by c_jane at October 7, 2004 11:13 AM | TrackBack

Jane, how I wish the intellectual honesty of the above would get through to those who ought to reflect on it.

I’d wager that a great many thoughtful conservatives (though not necessarily Republicans) are terribly disappointed in this President. The distinctions between Perle-ish crusaders and Buckley-ish pedagogues, between new-imperialists and the truly fiscally conservative have got to be significant enough to stir up some trouble. Just listen to staid Senators (well, sans their “f*** off” President), and then spend some time digesting “Freedom Fry” House of Representative war-cries. Seat Chuck Hagel, John McCain, and Richard Lugar in a closed room with Tom Delay, Dennis Hastert, and David Dreier, and ask them to discuss the war. Have Pat Buchanan and Sean Hannity talk about the unifying objectives of American conservatives…

In the middle is a President who seems hellbent on spending as much as he can (good for some conservatives, right? Right? I guess Bechtel and Halliburton like it), “liberating” people who live in one part of the world (not so great for the stay-at-home conservative, but wonderful for the evangelical-hegemony type), making sure that abstinence is enlisted as the primary means to curb HIV (no doubt a disappointment to Mr. Santorum and Mr. Ryan), and keeping the evil IRS out of the holdings of the wealthiest (great for everyone who hates social services like police departments, fire departments, affordable schools, a military… oh, you know the rest).

Apparently, there’s even enough room for conservatives who would rather sweep Mr. Bush’s war under the rug – Dead Iraqi children? No, no. Those are LIBERATED Iraqi children with newly painted schools! – than risk life under a President who doesn’t sneer when someone says “United Nations.”

Posted by: dave at October 7, 2004 12:41 PM |

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