More On Interrupting Bush

I received several emails regarding my July 12th article, Interrupting Bush. The one emailer who covered all the arguments was Glen Ward, who kindly granted me permission to display portions of his notes here.


Glen’s opening salvo was this:

You should be more concerned about the destruction Kerry will bring to this country in the form of tax hikes, liberal judge appointments, allowing the U.N. i.e. France to control our national security, etc., instead of what America did to Iraq (which is a critical part of the war on terror).

To which I replied:

As mentioned, I’m not a big Kerry fan. I’m just finding myself less and less convinced of Bush’s competence in directing our war on terrorism. I, too, would hate to see the U.N. or France control our national security. In the case of Iraq, however, it’s hard not to wish we had followed their advice. Would we be better off if we had swarmed our forces over the hills of Afghanistan-Pakistan and found bin Laden and the very guts of al-Qaeda instead of building a democracy in Iraq? I think so.


As for investing, I’m not convinced that the president has much of anything to do with the performance of the stock markets. Clinton certainly was not responsible for the great boom of the ’90s, nor was he responsible for the big burst that came in early 2000. Bush has had no discernible impact on the market, either.


However, if anything, it seems that Kerry might be better for the economy because we might stop spending so darned much.

I received this in return:

Check out this article which shows correlation of Bush’s reelection chances to the stock market. [Note: scroll to the bottom to see the argument and chart that Glen refers to.] Coincidence? I think not. How can raising taxes be good for anyone?

As far as use of our military resources, I would have to argue that planting the seed of democracy in the area that breeds terrorists is far more important than hunting down any one single person. The mission in Afghanistan was successful regardless of not catching bin Laden because it is no longer under terrorist control. Look at what has already been gained from the Iraq War:

  1. Saddam is gone along with his support of terrorist actions.
  2. Libya has given up its nuclear weapons program.
  3. For once, a U.N. resolution has been enforced.
  4. It’s keeping terrorists busy over there and not here. (They know it would be a defeat for them if democracy takes hold there.)
  5. It has exposed why the French, Germans, and Russians were against the war.
  6. It has given notice to other terrorist countries that we mean business (unless Kerry is elected).

Let’s start with the notion that Bush is better for the stock market.


I couldn’t care less about what a bunch of gamblers at think of Bush’s reelection chances. The chart in the article Glen links to shows that, since March 1st, when the gamblers thought Bush would win, the S&P; 500 rose. When they thought he would lose, the S&P; 500 fell.


Look more closely, however. The range of the S&P; 500 on the chart is between about 1150 and about 1080, roughly 6%. It’s been a sideways, narrow market during this past four months and I wouldn’t call any of the moves meaningful.


Investors look at numbers, not names. If earnings are improving and debt is going down, will anybody care who’s in the White House? Taken a little further, will investors care more about current interest rates and the strength of the dollar or whether Kerry is president? The numbers matter. Greenspan is far more important to the stock market than either Bush or Kerry. 


Despite that, history is actually on Kerry’s side. According to an October 2002 article in Slate:

…since 1900, Democratic presidents have produced a 12.3% annual total return on the S&P; 500, but Republicans only an 8% return. In 2000, the Stock Trader’s Almanac, which slices and dices Wall Street performance figures like baseball stats, came up with nearly the same numbers (13.4% versus 8.1%) by measuring Dow price appreciation. (Most of the 20th century’s bear markets, incidentally, have been Republican bear markets: the Crash of ’29, the early ’70s oil shock, the ’87 correction, and the current stall occurred under GOP presidents.)

If you’re looking to the stock market to place your vote, then Kerry’s your man. Now, onto democracy in Iraq.

Whether Iraq will even become a democracy is questionable. A true western-style democracy requires sharing of power among the governed. Given the area’s thousand years of infighting, do you think the Kurds will now give up their dream of an independent Kurdistan, the Sunnis will forget the privileges they enjoyed under Saddam, and the Shiites will ignore neighboring Iran’s theocracy? No way.


Even if Iraq did miraculously go the way of Japan following World War II, would it make a difference in the war on terrorism? After all, there is already a successful democracy in the Middle East. It’s called Israel. Has its presence slowed terrorism?


Glen justifies the invasion by pointing out that Iraq is no longer under terrorist leadership. Unfortunately, the latest reports show that it probably never was. At least, not in the context of 9/11. We knew months ago that there weren’t any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Now, thanks to the bipartisan 9/11 commission, we know that the supposed “connection” between Hussein and bin Laden didn’t exist either.


Some Bush supporters rush to say that the president never explicitly claimed a connection. Please. In September 2002 he said, “You can’t distinguish between al-Qaeda and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror.” The commission’s final report isn’t due until July 26th, but the preliminary staff report isn’t promising.


A Cagle cartoon in The Oregonian captured the situation nicely. It shows Cheney standing at a lectern addressing the press corps. He thunders, “…What IS it with you people? Can’t you see the CONNECTION?!!!” His three points are:

  • Saddam and bin Laden lived in the Middle East at the same time.
  • “Saddam Hussein” and “Osama bin Laden” both contain thirteen letters.
  • Saddam and bin Laden had facial hair.


Glen’s point that Libya has given up its nuclear arms is hard to disagree with. That’s good news. What I don’t know is whether we needed to invade Iraq to accomplish it.  

Glen wrote that “…planting the seed of democracy in the area that breeds terrorists is far more important than hunting down any one single person. The mission in Afghanistan was successful regardless of not catching bin Laden because it is no longer under terrorist control.” 


I’ve already covered the planting of democracy. How about this idea that it wasn’t worth hunting down one single person? Sounds like sour grapes to me. Besides, it’s al-Qaeda operatives that helped with the Madrid attack and that are evidently orchestrating an election-disrupting attack on America. I would say cutting off the head of that snake makes a world of sense.


All-in-all, relentless pursuit of the one guy we know to have planned 9/11 would have been preferable to an expensive war on a country that didn’t have anything to do with 9/11. This discussion of whether invading Iraq will be worth it in the end begs the obvious question, What did it do to deserve the attack in the first place?


Make weapons of mass destruction? No.


Help al-Qaeda plan and execute 9/11? No.


In my view, enough has gone wrong in the president’s plan to defend America against future attacks. Plus, I’m tired of being lied to. I’m sticking with my idea that we need to interrupt Bush. The best way to do that is by voting for Kerry.

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