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    Ducks seen swimming

    Andrew Sullivan has endorsed John Kerry, which may surprise you if you’ve just emerged from your cave to buy provisions for the first time in a few months. I think the questions he raises about Bush are good ones; they were going through my mind when I voted, believe me. The points he brings up in favor of Kerry, however, make me wonder which of us is living in an alternate universe. One of us must be:

    Besides, Kerry has endorsed democracy as a goal in Iraq and Afghanistan; he has a better grasp of the dangers of nuclear proliferation than Bush; he is tougher on the Saudis; his very election would transform the international atmosphere. What Bush isn’t good at is magnanimity. But a little magnanimity and even humility in global affairs right now wouldn’t do the United States a huge amount of harm.

    Uh, of course, Kerry has endorsed democracy as a goal in Iraq and Afghanistan. Was anyone expecting him to call for a Saudi-style blend of monarchy and thugocracy? The last two sentences ring true to me, though they’d need to be qualified. Bush has been great at getting some key heads of state on his side in the WOT, but his all-American, unassuming charm does not translate well abroad. And like it or not, that matters. It doesn’t necessarily make him unfit for the presidency, but it needs to be considered.

    What is just as important, though, is what we Americans think of our own president. Sullivan recognizes this, but I am at a loss to explain where this conclusion comes from:

    He has exuded a calm and a steadiness that reassures. He is right about our need for more allies, more prudence, and more tactical discrimination in the war we are waging. I cannot say I have perfect confidence in him, or that I support him without reservations. But not to support anyone in this dangerous time is a cop-out. So give him a chance. In picking the lesser of two risks, we can also do something less dispiriting. We can decide to pick the greater of two hopes. And even in these dour days, it is only American to hope.

    Kerry is the candidate of hope? Yeah, okay. There’s just no response to that–you see what you want to see.

    I’ll gladly talk about my reservations about the Bush administration and the trajectory of the Republican Party. But the kind of hope that Kerry and the DNC represent seems to me to be more accurately characterized as wishful thinking. I hated having to vote for Bush the way I’d pick up a Swanson’s TV dinner (iffy quality, but you know exactly what you’re getting), but better that than voting for someone because he might not suck as much as he’s likely to.

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