February 09, 2004 | Peter

President Kerry

Having just won Michigan and Washington in the latest democratic caucuses, it looks like John Kerry is a shoe in for Democrat presidential candidate in the next election. The bad news about this is that Kerry’s credentials as a senator do not suggest he’ll do much worthwhile as president, other than not be Bush. The good news is that as Kerry’s Democrat rivals drop away they can all concentrate on beating the worst president in modern times.
Kerry is not particularly inspiring and will basically get the nod because of his ‘electability’, the key issue in the race to beat Bush. But since he will be elected in perhaps the most hard-fought and vehemently contested election in many decades, and he will come to office facing a raft of serious problems caused both by long term changes and the depredations of the Bush administration, he may feel like he has a definite mandate for change. In this sense he may relive the experience of two of America’s great leaders, Lincoln and FDR, who also came to power without much indication of greatness but were forced to act decisively by events. The US is not facing a civil war or world war, but it is facing a possible change of direction that has most thinkers inside and outside the US worried. In particular, they worry that the now unique position of the US as global hyperpower places inordinate responsibility on the US leadership. With problems like climate change, WMD proliferation, terrorism, infectious disease and an ever more integrated economy, all occurring on a global scale, the right decisions are more and more important.
In the end Kerry will be elected because George Bush Jr has been so bad. What is more, his failures are becoming more and more obvious. Fir instance, his hypocrisy in playing on his military record (remember his flying onto the aircraft carrier in a flight suit to announce the end of the war in Iraq?) is becoming apparent as his actual personal history of military service evasion emerges. His genuine incapacity in dealing with complexity is now being discussed as stories about his odd presidential practices proliferate and his ‘misspeaking’ on Iraq persists. And now evidence of a truly strange religiosity is about as he is reported to claim to have personally ‘spoken with God’. There is already an attempt to impeach Bush on the grounds of insanity – if he continues to act so erratically and the pressure grows as his defeat looms, it may not seem as bizarre as all that.
It’s not as if he would be the first president to crack – after all, from all accounts Nixon was nearly bonkers towards the end. Indeed, there is the famous tale of the chief of the armed forces being instructed by Whitehouse to staff to ignore any orders from Nixon to attack the Soviet Union. Whew!
Whatever Kerry is not, he is mentally stable. In fact he’s positively dull. So that would be a nice change for a start.

Posted by Peter at 1:31 pm | Comments Off on President Kerry |
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