Thomas Sowell

Choosing candidates to vote for at election time is not like choosing a buddy or choosing some sports or entertainment figure to idolize. Nor is it a verdict on someone's qualities as a human being.

Theodore Roosevelt was a very honorable man with high intelligence and high ideals but he did much harm and the country would probably have been better off if he had never been President. The same could be said of Herbert Hoover.

It is not necessary to denigrate individuals in order to criticize their policies. Unfortunately, there are too many voters -- in both parties -- who act as if choosing whom to vote for is like choosing sides to cheer or boo at a sports event.

But elections in an age of international terrorism and with the shadow of a nuclear Iran looming ahead are much too serious for self-indulgence in idolizing or demonizing individuals.

Some Republican voters are apparently thinking of staying home on election day because they certainly have no one in their party to idolize and the Democrats haven't had enough power to do anything to be demonized for.

Democrats of course have plenty of Republicans in power to demonize, starting with the President and the Secretary of Defense. It is doubtful whether anyone has ever filled either of those jobs without making mistakes but serious proposals for alternative policies would be more adult than demonizing Bush and Rumsfeld.

So many people have pointed out that Democrats offer no alternative policies that this can no longer be just an oversight on the Democrats' part.

It is a calculated strategy, assuming that continuous second-guessing and denunciation of the Bush administration will undermine the Republicans enough in the eyes of the public to win the Democrats enough votes to take control of the House of Representatives this year and control of the White House in 2008.

Every opportunity for in-your-face obstructionism has been seized, whether the issue was serious or trivial.

The mere formality of counting the electoral college votes from the 2004 election in the House of Representatives was held up for hours by Democrats, even though they knew they had no chance to prevent Bush from being declared the winner. And since he was already President, this did not postpone his powers for a second.

Similarly, the confirmation of Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State was held up after Colin Powell was gone and she was already the President's principal adviser on foreign policy.

In other words, nothing substantive was at stake. It was the frivolous politics of obstruction once again, playing to the grandstand.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate