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Saturday, October 30, 2004


NEW YORK DAILY NEWS ENDORSES PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH 

Wow, this news-making endorsement shows that 9/11 is why Bush is doing well in "blue states" like New Jersey



NY Daily News: Right war, right time, right man

The United States is at war — long-term, make no mistake. Muslim fanatics are bent on destroying the rest of humankind. One September morning three years ago, they felled the World Trade Center, struck at the Pentagon and might have smashed the Capitol or the White House had they not been stopped by the heroism of the doomed passengers on a hijacked jetliner. In rage and sorrow, New Yorkers do not forget that terrible day.

And we live now in the shadows of menace.

The next President of the United States has no higher duty than to prevent more such catastrophic blows, here or anywhere on these shores, by waging a sustained worldwide assault against the bringers of destruction. As New York's Hometown Newspaper and eyewitness to the devastation that can suddenly rain down, the Daily News prays that the coming commander-in-chief will be up to the task of fighting this great war.

The choice on Tuesday is, of course, between Republican George Walker Bush and Democrat John Forbes Kerry. The News is dismayed by Bush's domestic record. His presidency simply has not been about serving the interests of middle-class and working-class families, whose fortunes have declined. Most tellingly, Bush weighted the centerpiece of his program — deep tax cuts — to the wealthy, providing a costly bonanza to those on top without generating an economic lift for everyone else. A sorry result was the biggest drop from budgetary surplus to deficit in U.S. history — just a few years before millions of baby boomers will retire and thus threaten the solvency of Social Security and Medicare.

Kerry's domestic agenda is preferable. He would repeal Bush's tax reductions on incomes of $200,000 and up, promises to find money for new programs without increasing the deficit and has advanced thoughtful proposals for addressing intractable problems such as the growing number of Americans without health insurance. His plan generally tracks the philosophies of Democratic predecessors Bill Clinton and Al Gore.

The News endorsed Clinton and Gore in the three races beginning with 1992, each time judging their domestic agendas in the best interests of the American people. But it is no longer Sept. 10th. The world has changed. And nowhere has it been more tragically altered than in New York. And nowhere are the stakes higher.

As the preeminent symbol of America, this city remains Ground Zero, primary target of Islamic radicals. How best to win the war against terror so the country and its leading city emerge from jeopardy is the overriding concern in the election. The News believes Bush offers the stronger hope in this urgent regard.

Tested severely by 9/11, Bush recognized it was not enough — it had never been enough — to treat Islamic terrorism as a criminal-justice matter, or just to hunt down Osama Bin Laden and his henchmen. The President had two crucial insights: First, that rogue states were a grave threat in that they could provide weapons of mass destruction to terrorists as a force multiplier. And, second, that the Mideast's backward, repressed societies were generating virulent, homicidal hatred of the U.S.

And so Bush led the country to invade Saddam Hussein's Iraq, enraging some allies and alienating half the American people. We supported the President and we continue to believe he made the right decision. At the time, the world was convinced that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. No one knew for sure, but, having exhausted diplomacy, Bush refused to run the risk that a criminal head of state might turn an arsenal on the U.S. through the likes of Al Qaeda.

Only later was it learned that Saddam had disarmed, provoking roaring Democratic attacks and told-you-so clucking in Europe. Now, though, CIA weapons inspector Charles Duelfer has confirmed that Bush was right not to chance Saddam's intentions. Duelfer's report concluded that while Saddam had no weapons stockpiles, he was itching to restart Iraq's armaments programs, including nuclear, as soon as he bribed his way around UN sanctions. His first production capacity would have been soon in coming — mustard agents within months and nerve agents in a year or two.

Bush's move into Iraq exemplifies a commitment to stay on the offensive against terror, and to do so militarily where necessary and feasible, as was the case in Iraq. The message has been clearly heard in capitals around the world. That's why strongman Moammar Khadafy relinquished Libya's WMD program, and it's why a nuclear black market operating out of Pakistan has been shut down.

Iraq's mounting casualties have obscured the rightness of the U.S. cause, and Bush bears responsibility for allowing chaos to take hold. Among other things, the Pentagon underestimated the troop strength needed to stabilize Iraq and pulled a crucial punch in last spring's battle at Fallujah.

That said, it must be prominently noted that the dirty, unpredictable business of war is nonetheless moving the Iraqi people toward elections that were inconceivable under Saddam's tyranny. He is gone, and Iraqis will be able to vote, just as Afghans were able to vote this year because Bush reclaimed their medievally repressed country from the Taliban.

Kerry has promised to be tough on terror. His words are resolute — he will hunt down and kill terrorists — but they betray a skittishness about the exercise of American military power, conjuring up endless diplomacy before action while reducing the fight against Al Qaeda and cohorts to cell-by-cell skirmishing.

Forged in Vietnam, where he was both valorous and appalled by U.S. policy, Kerry has long been uncomfortable with the use of American might. Witness his senatorial votes against defense and intelligence spending proposals. And witness his vote in 1991 against giving the first President Bush authority to drive Saddam out of Kuwait, a step that was compellingly necessary to prevent Saddam from becoming a dominant force over the Mideast and its oil.

There's no doubt that Kerry has become more realistic since then, but his votes for and against the war and his shifting campaign rhetoric raise grave doubts about what, exactly, a President Kerry would do in Iraq. He emphasizes persuading countries like France and Germany to join the war effort, but they have said no and never. He promises to prosecute the war better than Bush, but he has not gone beyond pointing out every setback in the conflict.

Most seriously, Candidate Kerry's clearest position on the war undercuts the cause a President Kerry would be obligated to fight. As Washington Post columnist Jim Hoagland put it: "Kerry's repeated denunciations of Iraq as the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time weaken the moral and perhaps even the legal base for ordering Americans to continue to fight there if he becomes President." World leaders — those Kerry intends to rally and those already committed — could not responsibly risk their citizens in a misbegotten fight.

At this critical juncture, America cannot afford such a lack of clarity — or even a hint that a President would revert to playing defense rather than staying on the offensive. Nor would it be wise to change commanders midbattle in Iraq and around the globe, replacing a tested leader with a man who would have to learn on the job under the most difficult circumstances. With so much at stake, that's a transition not to be wished for.

Returning Bush to office is the wise course, The News believes, despite our sharp disagreement with his domestic policies. Those pale in comparison with the overarching challenge of securing the nation and preserving New York's vital way of life. Of the two candidates, Bush has the clearer vision for accomplishing the goal, as well as the greater experience. He gets our endorsement.


You can e-mail the Daily News editors at voicers@edit.nydailynews.com. Please include your full name, address and phone number. The Daily News reserves the right to edit letters. The shorter the letter, the better the chance it will be used.

Originally published on October 31, 2004


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