I disagree with those who believe that George Bush's National Guard record, or John Kerry's 1970's anti-war statements, should not be considered by the voters in 2004. In fact, the voters should know about drunk driving records, marital relations, college cheating, war records, old resume enhancements and all the other bric a brac of a life about two-thirds lived -- if the man is running for president of the United States. Intelligence, judgment, character and personality -- as well as political philosophy and policy positions -- are all needed predictors of how a man will perform as president. American voters have a right to know -- and a duty to find out -- as much as they can about the man they would elect to the office, because an American president is not only the most powerful man in the world, he is potentially the most dangerous.
All people, but politicians especially, try to hide their weaknesses and shortcomings from public view. Thus, an election is not only a contest between two candidates, but a contest between each candidate and the public over a search for the full truth of the candidate's nature. Each piece of information, positive and negative, is probative (but not necessarily dispositive) of determining that true nature.
While self-consciously high-minded people condemn even honest negative campaigning, it is only through such efforts that hidden and embarrassing facts or conditions are revealed that may well be needed to properly understand the nature of the man and his fitness for the presidency.
While we will surely find out more, we already know a lot about George W. Bush. As a well-born son of a famous family, he performed adequately, but not exceptionally, in his youth and early adulthood. He fell away from his faith, came to drink and party too much and drifted from one job or venture to another. Then, his life changed completely. He sought out and refound his faith, gave up his sybaritic ways, returned to the fold and focused his energies and abilities. We know this story well -- it is the parable of the prodigal son. And he ended up as president and headstrong leader of a great nation at war.
But what is John Kerry's story? It has not yet come into public focus. We need to find out what makes John Kerry tick. I have a suspicion that we will not truly know him until we understand what happened to him in the jungles of the Mekong Delta. Did the jungle, and what happened there creep permanently into his psyche?
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.
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