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11.9.04

In Defense Of Cheney

I'm finding it hard to get outraged about Dick Cheney's remark that if John Kerry is elected, another major terrorist attack is likely. He seems to be just making explicit the implicit presupposition of the whole use of terrorism as an election issue.

The basic premise of any political campaign with respect to issue X (at least where X is agreed upon as a goal) is "you'll be better off with respect to X if you vote for me than if you vote for my opponent." So Kerry and Bush each claim that the economy will do worse under the other's leadership, that health care will be worse under the other's plan, etc. So why is it strange that one of them would claim that terrorism prevention would be worse under the other's leadership? Certainly one of the reasons I'll vote for Kerry is my view that Bush's conduct of the war on terrorism has been shoddy, and thus terrorist attacks would be more likely during a second Bush term than a first Kerry term.

It's hardly beyond the pale to make a factually incorrect statement about which party's policies are more effective, or to exaggerate the difference between them. Do Cheney's critics mean to suggest that there's nothing that we can do to affect the rate of terrorism -- that attacks are a force of nature like earthquakes or hurricanes?

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