Jewish World Review Sept. 1, 2004 /15 Elul, 5764
Edward I. Koch
There simply is no other choice
In a weekly commentary in February 2002, I announced that I would support President Bush for reelection.
I wrote that I had recently had dinner with two diehard liberal Democrats, and told them that if the election were held tomorrow, I would vote to reelect President Bush. They nearly choked on their appetizers.
I explained that I was supporting the President because he had "made terrorism, which in my view is the greatest threat faced by this country, the number one issue in the world. He put together an unexpected grand coalition against Osama bin Laden, the Taliban, al-Qaeda and the warlords of Afghanistan. Most important, he defied the generally-held view of American media commentators that Afghanistan would become a quagmire, another Vietnam. Instead, victory was swift and with extraordinarily few American casualties."
Over the next two years, I reiterated my commitment to the President's reelection, and this week I endorsed the President at the Republican National Convention. Before introducing Mayor Michael Bloomberg to the assembled delegates I said, "I know what you're thinking. What's Ed Koch doing at the Republican Convention? Me. A Democratic district leader in Greenwich Village. Democratic City Councilman. Democratic Congressman, Democratic Mayor. Why am I here? To convert you. But, that's for the next election. This year, I'm voting for the re-election of President George W. Bush."
I cannot support John Kerry, the Democratic candidate, because he wavers too much on issues of fundamental importance:
For example, in explaining his vote in the U.S. Senate in favor of the war against Iraq, Kerry said, "He [Bush] misled every one of us." After the Democratic convention, President Bush challenged Senator Kerry: "My opponent hasn't answered the question of whether, knowing what we know now, he would have supported going into Iraq." Kerry responded, "Yes, I would have voted for the authority."
Similarly, during his appearances with the other candidates at the first Democratic debate on May 3, 2004, Kerry strongly supported the President's actions in Iraq, stating, "George, I said at the time, I would have preferred if we had given diplomacy a greater opportunity, but I think it was the right decision to disarm Saddam, and when the President made the decision, I supported him, and I support the fact that we did disarm him."
But on June 18, 2003, the Associated Press reported: "Kerry said Wednesday that President Bush broke his promise to build an international coalition against Iraq's Saddam Hussein and then waged a war based on questionable intelligence. 'He misled every one of us,' Kerry said."
On September 2, 2003, Kerry claimed that he voted "to threaten" the use of force in Iraq. He said, "I voted to threaten the use of force to make Saddam Hussein comply with the resolutions of the United Nations." Then, on January 6, 2004, when asked by MSNBC Hardball host, Chris Matthews, "…Are you one of the anti-war candidates?" Kerry replied, "I am yes, in the sense that I don't believe the president took us to war as he should have, yes, absolutely." Kerry more recently told the American public that in fact he would have voted for the war even if he had known at the time of his Senate vote that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction. Kerry exhibited all the failures of a tortured soul, having to decide which was more important, winning the nomination or doing what was morally right. He chose the nomination.
Kerry's waffling is not limited to the war against Iraq. Kerry announced to the country that he opposed same-sex marriages and nevertheless would vote in the U.S. Senate against the Constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage, his reason being that the Constitution should not be used to deny civil rights to people. In 2002, he signed a letter opposing a similar amendment. The letter stated: "We believe it would be a grave error for Massachusetts to enshrine in our Constitution a provision which would have such a negative effect on so many of our fellow residents…We are therefore united in urging you to reject this Constitutional amendment and avoid stigmatizing so many of our fellow citizens who do not deserve to be treated in such a manner.
On the other hand, an article in The Boston Globe on February 6, 2004, reported: "Asked if he would support a state constitutional amendment barring gay and lesbian marriages, Kerry didn't rule out the possibility. 'I'll have to see what language there is,' he said." Even worse, the Los Angeles Times reported on August 7, 2004 that while in Missouri, Kerry came out in favor of Missouri's recent amendment to its constitution that states "To be valid and recognized in this state, a marriage shall exist only between a man and a woman." According to the Times, a spokesman for the Human Rights Fund, a Washington group that lobbies for gay rights, said Kerry's support for the Missouri amendment (forbidding gay marriage) was not surprising. 'This is consistent with what he's been saying all along,' Steven Fisher, the group's communications director, said." Again, a tortured soul, having to choose between principle and hopefully winning in the general election to come. He chose winning.
I respect those who have different opinions, but I have little regard for those who bend with the wind, those who vacillate, those who cave to the threats of others. I supported from the beginning the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. I continue to support our armed forces being there. I cannot admire a public official who straddles that issue. I support the right to same-sex marriages. Gays and lesbians have every constitutional right to equal treatment before the law. I maintain my beliefs before every group. I simply cannot abide the panderer who takes both sides of an issue, thinking no one will notice.
Immediately following my speech at the Republican convention, I was asked by Wolf Blitzer of CNN what I thought of "the President's statement that the war on terrorism cannot be won." I was unfamiliar with any such statement, as I had not seen the interview with Matt Lauer of NBC-TV at which it was allegedly made. My mind raced thinking Blitzer wants me to make some comment that he can use against Bush. In World War II, one of the great poster statements was, "Loose lips, sink ships." That applied to inadvertently giving locations of ships to German submarines. But it applies in a different context to all candidates in an election who let down their guard in responding to smiling reporters lying in wait for gaffes. I responded to Blitzer, "I've neither seen nor heard his comments and won't comment until I do." That was fortunate because his comments in context make sense.
The New York Sun reported today, "Interviewed on NBC's 'Today' show, Mr. Bush was asked, 'Do you really think we can win this war on terror in the next four years?' Mr. Bush replied, 'I have never said we can win it in four years.' NBC's Matt Lauer rephrased the question: 'So I'm just saying can we win it? Do you see that?' Mr. Bush said: 'I don't think you can win it. But I think you can create conditions so that those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world.'"
He is right. There will always be someone or some group willing to use terror as a weapon. As President Bush has indicated, the key is to "go after the terrorists and the countries that harbor them." While an individual terrorist can always hide in a cave, he or she will have little or no impact on the world if no country is willing to provide weapons or sanctuary. It is a battle that will go on for an extended period of time. President Bush has always said so.
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© 2002, Edward I. Koch