Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Dueling Opinions: My Third Response To Jobim

Well the truth, as they say, lies somewhere in the middle.

On gay marriage, Kerry's position (against gay marriage and for civil
unions in principle, for allowing states to decide in practice) is a
majority position. Bush's advocacy of the FMA is to the right of the
average American voter.

I believe Kerry opposed the partial-birth abortion ban because it didn't
include either life/health of the mother exceptions or rape/incest
exceptions (I can't remember which). In any case, Americans are
pro-choice by a solid majority. Bush is not.

On taxes, it's true that Kerry has supported some tax increases in the
past (like Clinton's and Bush I's)---though you rightly point out that
the Bushies have distorted his record on this point, specifically, I
would add, by interpreting votes against tax cuts as votes in favor of
tax increases. Does Kerry's position on taxes place him to the left of
the American mainstream? If so, not by a lot. All the polling data show
that majorities would have preferred using the revenue in Bush's
top-loaded tax cuts for any number for any number of other concerns. And
don't think that Kerry's acceptance speech line about revoking tax cuts
on the top 2% wasn't heavily poll-tested.

On the judges count, I'm willing to concede a little, but I'd like to
know which judges he opposed, his stated reasons for doing so, and the
margins by which they were confirmed.

On defense, I again think this is a wash. Some of the votes against
increased defense spending reflected the positions of Dick Cheney as
Secretary of Defense. True, he voted against the first Gulf War. Now he
is running in opposition to Bush's increasingly unpopular second Gulf War.

On all these issues, by the way, I don't necessarily agree with Kerry. I
was interested to see that on some of them, you do. Which ones?

Last, on the waffling, I think Bush's changing views on nation-building
represent progress, and I was glad to see his position evolve. That's
why the "flip-flopping" charge annoys me. Re: the steel tarriffs, I
guess we haven't precisely defined what "flip-flopping" means, but it
seems you agree with me that Bush's changing position was at least as
cynical and politically motivated (at least on Karl Rove's part) as
anything Kerry has done. The $87 billion for Iraqi reconstruction
illustrates the general point. Both Bush and Kerry supported one version
of the proposed legislation and opposed another. Bush's version was
passed, so he signed it. Kerry's version was defeated, so he voted
against it. I admit that the language he used to describe that decision
was fairly ridiculous, but I don't see a lot of substantive difference
between Bush and Kerry in this area.


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