Perhaps the starkest contrast voters have in front of them this fall has nothing to do with taxes or health care or even strategy on the war on terror. It is something much more fundamental, rooted in values and worldview: the ability to recognize evil.
And looking around the Democratic Party, it may be a recurring issue for some time to come.
John Kerry had to deal with a one-day flare-up a couple weeks ago for having praised Yasser Arafat as a "statesman" in his 1997 book, "The New War."
But it was something else Kerry wrote that was profoundly more troubling.
Think about the following quote for a moment: ?Terrorist organizations with specific political agendas may be encouraged and emboldened by Yasser Arafat?s transformation from outlaw to statesman.?
There are two problems with that sentence. The first?and obvious?one is not just labeling Arafat a ?statesman,? but calling the terrorist merely an ?outlaw.?
In a technical sense, though, Kerry was semantically correct: Arafat spent a long time as an ?outlaw? before being brought back from his exile in Tunisia by Israel in order to serve as a ?statesman? and negotiating partner.
Kerry, though, could almost be forgiven for his flattery considering that in 1997, when the Massachusetts Senator wrote those words, huge swaths of the international community were still suffering from an Oslo hangover and were treating Arafat as a legitimate leader.
But look again at the first part of that sentence. Kerry expresses a sincere belief that terrorists can change their stripes, if only they have a positive role model.
That sounds like a prescription for a troubled teen, not a terrorist.
The Democratic presidential candidate tries to soften the sentence by referring to ?terrorist organizations that have specific political agendas.? But the only ?political agenda? terrorists have is to terrorize through violence, particularly murder.
Yet Kerry thinks that if you show a terrorist the light, then he will be both ?encouraged and emboldened.?
In other words, make love, not war?with terrorists.
Terrorists, though, are not redeemable. Period. They are not projects who can be rehabilitated with heavy doses of TLC. They are evil, and they must be eliminated.
It doesn?t seem like the Democratic standard-bearer has changed much in the past seven years, either.
Yes, Kerry believes in waging some sort of war on terror, but he wants to do so in conjunction with the United Nations, a body which treats the likes of Fidel Castro?s Cuba and Moammar Gadhafi?s Libya as morally equal to the United States and superior to the Middle East?s sole democracy, Israel.
And Kerry has yet to state unequivocally that the war on terror is, at core, about good versus evil.
If George W. Bush wins reelection this fall, then the woman who will most likely follow in Kerry?s footsteps in 2008 appears to suffer from a similar moral myopia.
In a speech last month at the liberal Brookings Institution, Hillary Clinton seemed to claim that women were better off under Saddam Hussein because under the tyrant, ?on paper women had rights.?
She then ticked off those ?rights,? concluding with this doozy: ?as long as they stayed out of [Saddam?s] way, they had considerable freedom of movement.?
What ?freedom of movement? for women is there, though, in a country with government-run rape rooms?
This is not to say the entire Democratic Party harbors dangerous notions about evil-doers?but the party of Harry Truman and JFK is now clearly led by such folks.
And the Democratic base seems to live in Kerry?s and Clinton?s fantasy world.
Howard Dean?s fiery anti-war rhetoric made the hard left squeal like teenage girls at a boy band concert, and now Kerry is pandering to these core voters. This is the moveon.org crowd that believes Saddam was not such a bad guy and who hates Bush for every other aspect of his prosecution of the war on terror.
Given Kerry?s need to energize his base this November, the already nasty rhetoric will get even more heated. Beyond the bluster, though, there is but one core issue: the one candidate able to recognize confront evil is thankfully the one already in the White House.
Joel Mowbray, who got his start with Townhall.com, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.
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