Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Kerry, no home run

Joseph Knippenberg writes thoughtfully and elegantly about last night’s debate and declares that Bush won it because Kerry "offered us no compelling reason why the incumbent should be given the boot." Read the whole thing.   

Discussions - 40 Comments

Just curious... really.... does anyone know now what the Senator’s position is in Iraq.... And no, "everything" doesn’t count as an answer. Paul

I get his policy now:

He voted to give Bush the authority to use force in Iraq with the understanding the Bush would exhaust diplomatic means, plan carefully (to include winning the peace), and use war as a last resort with a strong coalition.

Bush was right that Saddam was a threat, but Bush moved too quickly to war and did not execute the war properly.

I would prefer a more antiwar candidate, but Kerry is good enough (now).

I notice that you all keep saying that Kerry did not do well, not that Bush did.

It is pathetically obvious that you are anxious to discredit Kerry’s outstanding performance and victory.

Bush looked and sounded like an angry little man who was frustrated by us commoners questioning his authority.

You will not admit it on this board. In fact, you’ll vehemently argue to the contrary. But, you agree with me and it pains you.

I’ll ignore the last bit of silliness. And, if you make outrageous claims that Kerry won an outstanding victory, you should expect to have that challenged since it is not true. He may have won the debate but clearly did not hit the home run he needed to make up the decifit in the polls.

As for Kerry’s strategy, it’s nice to say that he would have gotten allies, or had a better plan, or waited to go to war, but we have STILL not received any specifics about any of those. The best he could offer last night was to go to his website, which does not supply the answers either. Kerry has still not convinced the American people that there is any reason to switch commanders-in-chief whilst we are at war in Iraq and against terrorism.


Bush’s poor style undercut his substantive superiority. He had some good lines, but also missed some excellent opportunities to portray Kerry as a far-left liberal. Of course, Bush never likes to do that, but he’ll have to expand his "range" if he hopes to win this race.

OK Joe you win. Kerry won the debate. Hands down. Amazing performance.

He clearly has the skills necessary to captain the US Debate team. I myself am looking for a Commander in Chief. One that recognizes that sometimes you use the carrot sometimes the stick. One that recognizes that a tremendous "error in judgement" in believing anything the North Koreans told us. And that realizes that a stupid treaty that prevent us from putting up an antimissile defense are not what the American people want.

Now are you happy?

Can not a leader and an orator co-exist in the same body? Must we accept that eloquence is yet another victim of the "War on Terror"?

Certainly they can. Lincoln and Reagan come immediately to mind. However, when given the choice between the two, I’ll take the leader.

It is you who assume that the two cannot co-exist, not I. One must remember that being a "leader" is not necessarily a virtue. All of history’s great monsters were tremendous leaders.

It is you who assume that the two cannot co-exist, not I.

Actually I said they can co-exist, so I’m not sure what you mean by that.

In any event, Hitler was arguably a great leader in the sense that he inspired his people. He was also renowned as an excellent orator. I think he fits the mold of a "monster" rather well, also. So, if you are suggesting that some magical combination of oratory and leadership skills will prevent the existence of "monsters" then your suggestion is demonstrably false.

It is the ideas behind the oratory and the leadership that are ultimately the determining factor between a heroic leader and a monster. Bush is certainly neither, nor is Kerry likely to be either. However, Bush appears to understand the realities of our situation and have the convictions to do what needs to be done. Kerry, on the other hand, has had no consistent opinion on the matter and thus appears to merely take on whatever position he thinks is most likely to get him elected today. The former is leadership and leadership, properly understood, does not result in "monsters".

Kerry may not have hit a home run, but he at least got a ground rule double, and if he continues to perform this well in later debates, he will likely score that run. He focused on the points were Bush was the weakest, drove in his points hard in the face of the president. But will this make him a good leader? He dosen’t really have any real leadership experience, and has shown that polotics will change his views on improtant issues quicker than you can say flip-flopper. Is this the kind of man we want leading this nation? And yet, for all his misgivings, his performance last night will certainly redeem him in the eyes of the voters. Im afraid that Mr. Bush will have to pull off a much better performance than his dismal one last night if he wants to win this election.

I disagree with Son of a Conservative only because the race is now Bush’s to lose. Kerry will gain a small amount of ground with this debate, but not much. And in terms of public attention, this is probably the last debate that mattered, barring a lasting "there you go again" or "you’re no John Kennedy" moment. Bush has the lead and importantly a double digit edge over Kerry on the key issue (national security) in this election. Kerry would have needed to have crushed Bush. Bush did not end up looking Churchill, but he did not have to.

If W.’s campaign is worth a lick, it should hang Kerry’s "global test" and "no nuclear bunkerbuster" remarks around his neck like a millstone of shame.

Lori... regarding comment #9, would you please give us your top 10 list of tremendous leaders who were monsters.

I honestly cannot get over the fact that some people are actually going to vote for Bush. His adminstration favors the limitation of our personal rights (Patriot Act), has advocated torture, and radically changed the criteria for imminent threat.

He "leads" through fear. E.g., We will die in the hands of the terrorists if we do not vote for him.

I am actually going to vote for a Democrat, believe it or not, because I am scared of losing my personal freedoms.

Bush is a monster, and I am sad that I helped put him in power.

Bush is a monster

What a total joke. To make such a statement is absurd and demonstrates a total lack of historical knowledge. If Bush is a monster, what does that make Hitler? Saddam Hussein? Pol Pot? Idi Amin? But I sincerely hope that Kerry supporters keep saying such things as it makes them look ever more foolish and desperate. Every time someone like "Dismayed" says something like that, I sense undecided voters making up their mind to vote for Bush. Keep up the good work, Dismayed.

Oh, and don’t forget that the Patriot Act was passed by a 98-1 vote in the Senate (including "yes" votes from Kerry and Edwards) and 357-66 vote in the House. Apparently both parties "favor the limitation of our personal rights".

Frankly, the hysteria over the Patriot Act greatly amuses me. All of this talk of "rights" being thrown out the window has been so much hot air. I have yet to see anyone show that the Patriot Act has caused a single personal right to be eliminated or damaged.

Dismayed - get a clue! Your unsubstantiated vitriol reveals a great deal of ignorance. When have your rights or anyone’s been violated by the Patriot Act? Can you even name one example? Do you know that no one has sued the government under the Patriot Act for violating their rights as the Act provides a specific provision allowing for it? Why don’t you educate yourself by listening to the lecture by Robert Alt under the "Social Studies Teachers Seminar" during the summer of 2004 for "American Democracy, Human Nature, and the American Character" right here on this website.

By the way, I could also say, "Why would anyone vote for Kerry" too. He supports abortion, which kills over one million babies a year. Sounds like genocide to me. And the guy is supposedly a Catholic. "Why would anyone vote for someone" who disobeys the dictates of his own religion and supposed principles?

By the way, is John Kerry a "monster" because he would contine the war in Iraq and supported pre-emptive war?

Dismayed - You seem confused perhaps you should get counseling, and by the way Kerry participated in combat assignments in Vietnam that he considered war crimes; is Kerry a monster? You should probably vote for Nader if you are really telling the truth about how you feel. Also I don’t beleive you even know what the Patriot Act is and how it works.

It is a free country and this blog is open to anybody because it allows people to write comments; however, there are lots of trolls posting stuff like dismayed has posted. I hate to sound conspiratorial but the DNC has asked their loyal henchmen and henchwomen (or should I call them henchpersons) to post stuff to blogs and chatchrooms to mix things up a bit right after the debates. They also asked them to vote in online polls to get the big MO going.

As I said, no big deal this is a free country and NLT’s is an open blog.

The clues are things like something a poster did on a previous item. She wrote something like, "I voted for Bush in 2000 and I am embarassed because his performance in the debate was terrible". Where to start? This gal had an epiphany the other night because she finally realized that Bush isn’t the best debater in the world? Huh? If she voted for Bush in 2000, she must have known that Bush is no Winston Churchill when it comes to debating. Second, she throws in the towel based on a debate on Thursday September 30, 2004, after approximately 3.5 years of the first Bush Administration. Is debating that important? Is it more important than the man’s actions the past 3.5 years? What an odd time and reason to suddenly become disenchanted with Bush.

I can understand people not liking President Bush because of his opinions and his actions; however, to say that you don’t understand him through his words combined with his actions is disingenuous. This is true especially compared with Senator Nuance, aka Senator "I voted for it, before I voted against it".

Anywho, my 2 cents.

pchuck is absolutely right. No Left Turns was mentioned in the latest issue of National Review, so there are probably a lot of new folks checking out the blog. No doubt the Kerry campaign has been tipped off as well.

Despite the conspiracy talk, I come by "No Left Turns" quite honestly. I am a former Ashbrook Scholar and married to one as well, so we check in often. I am sorry to disappoint those hoping for a DNC infiltration.

As far as a "Top Ten" list of monsters who were tremendous leaders.....the question itself shows a lack of education. How could any of the great political monsters of history have come to power without leadership? My point is that leadership in and of itself does not denote virtue, it is what one does with said leadership that determines virtue.

Lori..you commented "All of history’s great monsters were tremendous leaders" You are confusing being a tremendous "Dictator", with being a tremendous leader. Washington , Lincoln were great leaders. Hitler, Stalin, Hussein were great dictators. Please tell me you think Hitler was a great leader, I would loved to see that in writing.

Dictator’s come to power usally by being able to do what the other guy is not willing or capable of doing; then holding power through fear, intimidation and mass murder. That’s not leadership in my book.

I-being a nasty liberal and living in Monaco-have (we) decided to take a poll. If you are a Bush voter- Do you have$$$. Like oh- e- a- more than say 2000 dollars of a like CASH. AND if you are like 18 to 26 would you like "inlisty" to go Iraqing. And Thanks. A.

Though I enjoyed my time as an Asbrook Scholar and admit the Center brought in many great speakers, I do not think the Kerry campaign has been "tipped off" to a small college’s happenings.

If anything, the Democrats would write off any comments here as party hardliners incapable of opposing a war backed by Republicans.

It was my education under Peter Schramm, David Foster, and especially Jeffrey Tiel that freed my thinking enough to consider ideas and draw my own conclusions. These intelligent men may support this war, but I do not.

I cannot find a justification for emptying our military bases and wreaking havoc on a non-threat. To consider the affects of this war, just consider your reaction to an occupying force roaming the streets of Ashland. Consider your reaction to attack helicopters straffing your streets and 40mm mortar rounds landing on your neighbor’s house (a suspected "stronghold").

It is under such conditions that I would consider the horrible acts that war requires to be good and just.

We are creating enemies out of good men when we occupy the streets of a foreign land.

I used to think that self-preservation was the foundation of morality, but this war has made me realize that some things are more important than life.

We should cease our harrassment of the world, accept our losses, and engage the world with honest trade and exchange of ideas.

I voted for Bush, but I am not upset. I was fooled by his promise of bringing troops home. Now I will vote for Kerry.

So Lori, you write that you voted for Bush in 2000. What was this based on? When did Bush sour you? Was it honestly Thursday night in a 90 minute debate? What about the past 3.5 years?

Daniel - whoever denied that war is horrible? Any war that the U.S. enters will guarantee to have heliocopter gunships, tanks, and highly-armed men. The U.S. forces are going out of their way, to the detriment of their objectives, rightly or wrongly, to avoid civilian casualties and damage to significant mosques and other structures. Moreover, my reaction might be quite friendly if I lived under a repressive system, such as Saddam’s (though not limited to his), which violated my natural rights wholesale.

I don’t think we are creating new enemies. Many already hated the U.S. and the West. Many are foreigners or members of al-Qaeda. And, others are warlords for cities that were like the Bronx before the U.S. overthrew the regime.

You toss around words such as "occupy" and "harass," but those are used prejoratively and may not represent the reality of the matter. The words "liberate" and "free" could also be used.

As for trade with the world and allow for a free exchange of ideas, that’s a really nice sentiment ala John Lennon, but there are regimes and terrorists out there who hate the West for that free exchange of ideas and would rather blow you up with a belt of explosives rather than sip a latte discussing the Federalist Papers.

Congratulations on your vote for Kerry. I’m not sure how his foreign policy, with its continuance of the war in Iraq, support for pre-emption, and elusive quest for European support, will satisfy you. Good luck.

I cannot find a justification for emptying our military bases and wreaking havoc on a non-threat.

Any nation that supports terrorism cannot be considered a "non-threat" in this day and age. There is no doubt that Saddam actively supported terrorism within his borders and that Iraq had become the safe haven for terrorist groups after the fall of the Taliban. To call Iraq a "non-threat", WMD or not, is to ignore the facts.

To consider the affects of this war, just consider your reaction to an occupying force roaming the streets of Ashland.

This is not a parallel comparison because Ashland is not currently governed by a tyrannical maniac who endangers the security of the world and regularly brutalizes his own citizens. Perhaps if Ashland were such a place, the arrival of an occupying force would not be a shock or a cause for anger, but rather a welcome sight to its oppressed citizens. I understand your fundamental point that it is unlikely that anyone would want such violence to occur in their own backyard. Agreed. However, that sort of violence was not exactly uncommon in Iraq even before we conquered Saddam. At least now there is cause for hope there, whereas previously, there was no hope at all.

We are creating enemies out of good men when we occupy the streets of a foreign land.

This is one of your most ridiculous statements yet. We are not creating enemies out of good men unless you believe that the terrorists are good men…

We should cease our harrassment of the world, accept our losses, and engage the world with honest trade and exchange of ideas.

This notion that Islamo-fascists would cease attacking us if only we would stop killing them and listen to their concerns is absurd. These people only want us to die. They don’t want to talk out their problems. This is not a problem that can be solved by pop psychology. You seem to have bought into Kerry’s silly idea that some sort of Middle East summit would cure all that ails the region. Thousands of years of history beg to differ.

I voted for Bush, but I am not upset. I was fooled by his promise of bringing troops home. Now I will vote for Kerry.

What promise to bring the troops home? He has always said that the troops will need to stay as long as it takes to get the job done. The interviews that I have seen with soldiers suggest that they don’t want to leave until the job is done either. If you are referring to Bush’s campaign platform that indicated his desire to stay further removed from world affairs, perhaps you have forgotten about the two airplanes that flew into the WTC. That changed the world a bit. Perhaps you thought everything could remain the same?

I cannot find a justification for emptying our military bases and wreaking havoc on a non-threat.


If that was the case, then why were we imposing the no-fly zone from 1991 onwards? Should we have pulled out then?

Dan,
I’ve been following what you’ve been posting, and I have to disagree with you. I’ve always respected you, but your argument this time is extremely flawed.

I think that it is unfair to characterize the difference between Kerry and President Bush in the way that you did (calling for summits and continually attacking the world). The President did not advocate "going after the world" and it seems dishonest to characterize him as having done so or having made that argument.

That, however, is not as important as your other conflict.

You seem to be upset that some people are approaching this issue (the current war) merely as an interesting academic debate while stating that there are some things more important than life (and more specifically, self preservation). You are correct in pointing out that too many people, and especially conservatives, seem willing to quietly ignore the loss of life as either "collateral damage" or "casualties of war," and I can support your stance that no one (whether they make policy decisions or if they discuss the matter clinically and theoretically) should forget that taking the life of another human being is never to be done lightly. Never. At that same time, I wonder if you realize that a number of the reasons that you have stated for opposing the war actually hone in on the loss of life (American and Iraqi, soldier, citizen, and child). I wonder, then, what you would claim to be "more important" than life and self perseverance? If it is freedom, I think that you need to revaluate your position (or at least represent your arguments). If it is something else, than your statement that you are a one-issue voter is absurd, because it is a hard stretch to see how you can reconcile your two stances.

The purpose of "foreign affairs" is, largely (if not entirely) self-protection (at least as enumerated in the Constitution). In fact, I cannot think of a single facet of "foreign policy" that does not deal with the protection of a sovereign nation (even if it is played out as economic security, etc). Even the most avid supporter of the UN or the ICC would claim that participation in these ventures helps with "collective” good; that logic would ultimately boil down to the argument that the collective good is better for the individual (I’m not attempting to debate whether the theory is possible, and I’m not trying to represent the arguments of those who cannot even come up with any sort of logical argument for their positions). If you are trying to claim some sort of conservative-isolationist-utopian sense of foreign policy (which is not only unrealistic but also clashes with your desire for a global exchange of ideas and free trade) as a single issue and that is your basis of your non support for the President, then perhaps you should reconsider your own (implicit) order that people consider the realities of what they believe to be possible/true in theory.

In summary, your statements that you are a one-issue-voter, that issue is foreign policy, and there are things more important than self-protection just don’t jive. They are entirely conflicted. I cannot believe that “the real world” has so changed you that you are willing to maintain a position that you cannot defend with any amount of intellectual honesty, and I (respectfully) request that you rethink some of your position before you vote. Whomever wins this November, there will still be troops in Iraq, there will still be a saddening loss of human life, and the reality is that either candidate will have to continue rebuilding democracy (as opposed to occupying) in Iraq. I am hard-pressed to believe that you’ve changed so much that your appeal to a higher moral good than self-preservation will lead to support of John Kerry.

I am probably voting for Mr. Bush because, as a Catholic, I cannot justify a vote for Mr. Kerry. However, the war in Iraq presents an interesting difficulty: the idea of what I will term long-term preemption (i.e. using military force against a nation that at some point in the non-immediate future may pose a threat) is not a very useful principle for foreign policy, yet given that Mr. Kerry has now endorsed that principle (at least in the first debate), there is obviously nowhere for one who is sincerely opposed to it (as I am) to go, if he wished to vote on that issue alone (which I do not). The only claim Mr. Kerry has is that he would run the aftermath better than Mr. Bush. This is obvious drivel because the rest of the world is already moving in the direction of helping our efforts. The Vatican Secretary of State, Angelo Cardinal Sodano, recently summarized the principle underlying this shift with a colorful statement (perhaps more so than one would expect from a man of the cloth), "We have to consider the fact: This son has been born. Even if he is illegitimate, he is here; we have to raise him and educate him" (link). With the Vatican’s recent diplomatic moves, NATO and maybe even the UN will probably be helping out no matter who wins in November, so voting for Mr. Kerry in order to get more international help in Iraq would be redundant. It is my sense from recent statements by Mr. Wolfowitz, et. al. that the Bush team has learned its lesson in this round, and there will be no further ill-advised wars in the second term. One also must, in fairness, observe that we were not at a state of peace with Iraq prior to 2003 given that we were flying several hundred missions per day over Iraqi airspace. Given this, and Mr. Bush’s obvious supperiority on domestic issues, I am suprised that anyone calling themselves "conservative" (with the exception of Andrew Sullivan, who somehow gets to be called a conservative after being editor of The New Republic) can support Mr. Kerry, whose only substantial plan for Iraq is to hold a summit and involve more international forces, both of which are already happening.

I went to mass on Sunday and picked up the Catholic Voter’s Guide. It endorses no candidate or candidates; however, it does state that there are five non-negotiable issues that a Catholic voter must take into consideration when voting. These five are:

1. Abortion

2. Human Cloning

3. Embroyonic Stem Cell Research

4. Homosexual Unions and Marriage

5. Mercy Killing

I agree that these are all important issues, but they should not nesecarily be a big part of your decesion on the ballot.

Whether it is illegal or not, stem cell research will continue. It may not be government funded, but that will not stop any one who is serious about persuing such a project. Pot is illegal, but does that stop teenagers from smoking it under cover?

Homosexual Unions and Marriage is definitly an issue, but not one that should be in the hands of the federal government. It is not worth ammending the Constitution. Leave it in the hands of the state governments

In my opinion, Abortion should be legal in the first trimester. If the Catholics are opposed to this, they might as well be opposed to hunting for game.

Embryonic Stem Cell Research is only a faucet of Stem Cell Research (SCR). The latter, sans Embryonic, has much federal funding and is showing much progress. In fact, Embryonic SCR appears to hold less potential than other forms (adult, umbilical-cord, et c.).

Abortion should be legal in the first trimester. If the Catholics are opposed to this, they might as well be opposed to hunting for game.


Huh? An unborn child is a whitetail buck?


What is the difference between 5 weeks and 25 weeks? If it is a fetus, it is a fetus until it is out. I don’t understand your reasoning.

Well, pchuck. You did better than I did. I still can’t figure out that posting! Non-sequiter came to mind!

A fetus in the first trimester has just about the personality capability that an animal has.

And besides, Im suprised your even answering that post seeing as im just probably a Democrat trying to infiltrate this site.

I didn’t know that we measured the value of human life by personality. My wife would have killed me a long time ago.

If you meant personhood, I think that that is a non-sequiter too. Human fetuses are not and don’t become ducks, they are in fact human. Basic science.

I don’t think you’re a Democrat posting on the site, just another person who has terribly poor "reasons" for supporting the termination of human life.

And what if the woman has been raped? Will you force her to bear a child that will remind her of the worst moment of her life everytime she looks at it?

And besides, the entire point of my posting was that whether or not you are affiliated with any religious group, you should not place your vote in their hands. I my self am a religious person, but i dont let the church decide wat issues i will when i make my choice.

That’s a different question, now isn’t it? A woman can refuse sperm at the hospital after the rape. But, having an evil act done to you does not give you the right to kill an innocent human(even one that is a result of an evil act).

As for your point about religion, I disagree. I have deeply studied the Catholic Church’s moral doctrines and have fundamental agreement with them to the point that they almost always inform my worldview. I have not read any more profound authority on these issues, and its natural law views quite consistent with many great Western thinkers. Therefore, I think it quite legitimate to allow this informed authority combined with my reason to guide my vote. Of course, bringing the Bible or the Church in every political discussion is sure to offend others. So, I simply stick with reason - the beauty of that is that the Church sees the "splendor of truth" in faith and reason as inherently logical and non-contradictory. So, an appeal to reason suffices. Notice I didn’t mention God or the Bible or the Church in my effective reasoning of the abortion issue, yet it is also the Church’s position.

I say this as a Catholic who is very involved in the pro-life movement, but this comment string has disproven my original hypothesis: No comment string on a politically-oriented blog can go more than 15 posts without becoming a discussion of abortion. I must now double my original number to 30...

On the plus side, we have hit the 40 mark! Let’s go for 50 before the post falls off the main page!

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