In the fall of 2002, the editors of this magazine moved up its launch date to make the conservative case against invading Iraq. Such a war, we warned, on a country that did not attack us, did not threaten us, did not want war with us, and had no role in 9/11, would be “a tragedy and a disaster.” Invade and we inherit our own West Bank of 23 million Iraqis, unite Islam against us, and incite imams from Morocco to Malaysia to preach jihad against America. So we wrote, again and again.
In a 6,000-word article entitled “Whose War?” we warned President Bush that he was “being lured into a trap baited for him by neocons that could cost him his office and cause America to forfeit years of peace won for us by the sacrifices of two generations…”
Everything we predicted has come to pass. Iraq is the worst strategic blunder in our lifetime. And for it, George W. Bush, his War Cabinet, and the neoconservatives who plotted and planned this war for a decade bear full responsibility. Should Bush lose on Nov. 2, it will be because he heeded their siren song—that the world was pining for American Empire; that “Big Government Conservatism” is a political philosophy, not an opportunistic sellout of principle; that free-trade globalism is the path to prosperity, not the serial killer of U.S. manufacturing; that amnesty for illegal aliens is compassionate conservatism, not an abdication of constitutional duty.
Mr. Bush was led up the garden path. And the returns from his mid-life conversion to neoconservatism are now in:
- A guerrilla war in Iraq is dividing and bleeding America with no end in sight. It carries the potential for chaos, civil war, and the dissolution of that country.
- Balkanization of America and the looming bankruptcy of California as poverty and crime rates soar from an annual invasion of indigent illegals is forcing native-born Californians to flee the state for the first time since gold was found at Sutter’s Mill.
- A fiscal deficit of 4 percent of GDP and merchandise trade deficit of 6 percent of GDP have produced a falling dollar, the highest level of foreign indebtedness in U.S. history, and the loss of one of every six manufacturing jobs since Bush took office.
If Bush loses, his conversion to neoconservatism, the Arian heresy of the American Right, will have killed his presidency. Yet, in the contest between Bush and Kerry, I am compelled to endorse the president of the United States. Why? Because, while Bush and Kerry are both wrong on Iraq, Sharon, NAFTA, the WTO, open borders, affirmative action, amnesty, free trade, foreign aid, and Big Government, Bush is right on taxes, judges, sovereignty, and values. Kerry is right on nothing.
The only compelling argument for endorsing Kerry is to punish Bush for Iraq. But why should Kerry be rewarded? He voted to hand Bush a blank check for war. Though he calls Iraq a “colossal” error, “the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time,” he has said he would—even had he known Saddam had no role in 9/11 and no WMD—vote the same way today. This is the Richard Perle position.
Assuredly, a president who plunged us into an unnecessary and ruinous war must be held accountable. And if Bush loses, Iraq will have been his undoing. But a vote for Kerry is more than just a vote to punish Bush. It is a vote to punish America.
For Kerry is a man who came home from Vietnam to slime the soldiers, sailors, Marines, and POWs he left behind as war criminals who engaged in serial atrocities with the full knowledge of their superior officers. His conduct was as treasonous as that of Jane Fonda and disqualifies him from ever being commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the United States.
As senator, he voted to undermine the policy of Ronald Reagan that brought us victory in the Cold War. He has voted against almost every weapon in the U.S. arsenal. Though a Catholic who professes to believe life begins at conception, he backs abortion on demand. He has opposed the conservative judges Bush has named to the U.S. appellate courts. His plans for national health insurance and new spending would bankrupt America. He would raise taxes. He is a globalist and a multilateralist who would sign us on to the Kyoto Protocol and International Criminal Court. His stands on Iraq are about as coherent as a self-portrait by Jackson Pollock.
With Kerry as president, William Rehnquist could be succeeded as chief justice by Hillary Clinton. Every associate justice Kerry named would be cut from the same bolt of cloth as Warren, Brennan, Douglas, Blackmun, and Ginsburg. Should Kerry win, the courts will remain a battering ram of social revolution and the conservative drive in Congress to restrict the jurisdiction of all federal courts, including the Supreme Court, will die an early death.
I cannot endorse the candidate of Michael Moore, George Soros, and Barbra Streisand, nor endorse a course of action that would put this political windsurfer into the presidency, no matter how deep our disagreement with the fiscal, foreign, immigration, and trade policies of George W. Bush.
As Barry Goldwater said in 1960, in urging conservatives to set aside their grievances and unite behind the establishment party of Eisenhower, Rockefeller, and Lodge, the Republican Party is our home. It is our only hope. If an authentic conservatism rooted in the values of faith, family, community, and country is ever again to become the guiding light of national policy, it will have to come through a Republican administration.
The Democratic Party of Kerry, Edwards, Clinton & Clinton is a lost cause: secularist, socialist, and statist to the core. What of the third-party candidates? While Ralph Nader is a man of principle and political courage, he is of the populist Left. We are of the Right.
The Constitution Party is the party closest to this magazine in philosophy and policy prescriptions, and while one must respect votes for Michael Peroutka by those who live in Red or Blue states, we cannot counsel such votes in battleground states.
For this election has come down to Bush or Kerry, and on life, guns, judges, taxes, sovereignty, and defense, Bush is far better. Moreover, inside the Republican Party, a rebellion is stirring. Tom Tancredo is leading the battle for defense of our borders. While only a handful of Republicans stood with us against the war in Iraq, many now concede that we were right. As Franklin Foer writes in the New York Times, our America First foreign policy is now being given a second look by a conservative movement disillusioned with neoconservative warmongering and Wilsonian interventionism.
There is a rumbling of dissent inside the GOP to the free-trade fanaticism of the Wall Street Journal that is denuding the nation of manufacturing and alienating Reagan Democrats. The celebrants of outsourcing in the White House have gone into cloister. The Bush amnesty for illegal aliens has been rejected. Prodigal Republicans now understand that their cohabitation with Big Government has brought their country to the brink of ruin and bought them nothing. But if we wish to be involved in the struggle for the soul of the GOP—and we intend to be there—we cannot be AWOL from the battle where the fate of that party is decided.
There is another reason Bush must win. The liberal establishment that marched us into Vietnam evaded punishment for its loss of nerve and failure of will to win—by dumping LBJ, defecting to the children’s crusade to “give peace a chance,” then sabotaging Nixon every step of the way out of Vietnam until they broke his presidency in Watergate. Ensuring America’s defeat, they covered their tracks by denouncing their own war as “Nixon’s War.”
If Kerry wins, leading a party that detests this war, he will be forced to execute an early withdrawal. Should that bring about a debacle, neocons will indict Democrats for losing Iraq. The cakewalk crowd cannot be permitted to get out from under this disaster that easily. They steered Bush into this war and should be made to see it through to the end and to preside over the withdrawal or retreat. Only thus can they be held accountable. Only thus can this neo-Jacobin ideology be discredited in America’s eyes. It is essential for the country and our cause that it be repudiated by the Republican Party formally and finally. The neocons must clean up the mess they have made, themselves, in full public view.
There is a final reason I support George W. Bush. A presidential election is a Hatfield-McCoy thing, a tribal affair. No matter the quarrels inside the family, when the shooting starts, you come home to your own. When the Redcoats approached New Orleans to sunder the Union and Jackson was stacking cotton bales and calling for help from any quarter, the pirate Lafitte wrote to the governor of Louisiana to ask permission to fight alongside his old countrymen. “The Black Sheep wants to come home,” Lafitte pleaded.