So far, barring major changes in policy by Kerry, I still plan to vote Bush on the grounds that the problems I have with Bush are just totally unaddressed by Kerry.
Here's an example: Russia has slid back to a dictatorship and Bush doesn't much care. We aren't looking at a repeat of the Cold War (the USSR lost economically and the gap has only widened), but this is a big deal, because they have nukes.
As I pointed out w.r.t. Iraq, we could never trust "Iraq" because we weren't dealing with "Iraq", we were dealing with Saddam Hussein, and a single person that powerful is always dangerous. (Note in that link I refer to being able to trust the USSR; in that case I refer to the post-Stalin era where no one person ever had quite the free reign he did again.) Even if we could trust Putin, can we trust his unknown successor?
Have we learned nothing from the Cold War? Alliances of convenience with dictators end up convenient only for the dictator.
Kerry could win major points with me by coming out and firmly saying this is a negative development. (Heck, I'll even spot him the de riguer vague claims it is Bush's fault and vague claims that he can do better and ignore the lack of detail, since he apparently will still be ahead of Bush on this topic just seeing there is a problem here.) Just like he could win major points condemning the Patriot Act (I'll forgive his vote for it since it was a rush job), condemning the absurd security measures that trade liberty for no security, or taking a stand on Copyright or Patent issues, or any of a large number of other things that don't involve Vietnam or the National Guard.
I'm not holding my breath.
Update: Here's another great example of "no significant differences": So Nature Magazine sent 15 questions to the two candidates about science and collected their responses. Most of the responses fit into these two patterns:
"What do you think should be done about X?"Bush: My administration has done Y about X.Kerry: I will do Y, but I will do it better than Bush.
(I assume the two candidates did not see the other's responses.)
Both candidates in usison: We will allocate more money for X.
(And I can't help but observe that Congress sets budgets, not the President.)
Exceptions (both questions and answers summarized):
- #5: "Missle defense": Bush will deploy what we have, Kerry will not. Otherwise, both answers fit both patterns above.
- #12: "Are human emmissions the main cause of climate change?" Bush: My science advisors determined that is still up in the air, but we've commited to a reduction. Kerry: The science is clear: Global warming is happening, and we should go back to the international table for things like Kyoto.My call: Technically, they are both correct, because Kerry dodges the question (possibly subconciously because an awful lot of people use keyword thinking in this domain); global warming is happening, Bush directly and correctly points out blaming it on humans is problematic, Kerry just jumps from "Global warming is happening" to "We should stop it internationally." My problem is that while I might support an honest climate treaty, Kyoto was transparently an attempt to hobble the US economy while accomplishing little of meaning to the environment, even under their own dangerously-overextended science. Given these answers, I would be concerned that Kerry is so full of zeal to show something to his support base on this subject that he would not read the fine print.
- #15: "Would you change the stem cell research policy?": Obviously, Bush won't since it is his and Kerry will drop the "ideologically driven" aspect of it; we all know what that means. What I am intrigued by is Bush's comment that we need to stop overplaying what it will do, which is probably true. (I would find the whole line about "ideology trumping science" more compelling if Kerry would explain how it is that he has no ideology that trumps science; see not just this issue, where I'm not even sure what is trumping the real science (studious ignorance?), but also the climate issue, where ideology about the causes of climate change trump science.)
That's it, only two questions really that don't fit the patterns, and one that had a difference worth mentioning.
Why should I vote for Kerry, other than the theoretical diffences that he has with regard to Iraq?
Kerry: I will do what Bush would do, only better.