Choose Your Candidate

As the election season heats up toward the home stretch, more people are begining to talk about who they're going to vote for and why. Or, perhaps, like Dennis Hastert, they'll talk about who Osama bin Laden would vote for:

When a reporter asked Hastert if he thought al Qaeda would operate with more comfort if Kerry were elected, the speaker said, "That's my opinion, yes."

Certainly, the question was stupid and showed no class. But the reporter was working along the same lines Hastert had been speaking about. I guess it's silly of me to expect Hastert to either a: ignore the question and point out how silly it is; or b: say that it doesn't matter who is in office, that America will fight al Qaeda to the bitter end. But, then, that would be uniting politics, not dividing, which is apparently what the Republicans are dishing out of late.

Want to know the difference between the two campaigns? First of all, here's a round up of how Dick Cheney does it from the Mercury News:

"He's a Christian and he's trustworthy," said Betty Lloyd, a retiree from Bridgeport, W. Va., explaining her enthusiasm for Cheney and President Bush. "He don't flip-flop ... I see them doing the right thing whether the American people like it or not."

...He defends the war in Iraq by saying "there was a relationship" between Saddam Hussein's regime and al-Qaida, an assertion that despite its vagueness isn't supported by the Sept. 11 commission or by U.S. intelligence officials, who found evidence of sporadic meetings but no operational relationship.

Gwen Griscom, a math teacher, left a roundtable discussion with Cheney in Albuquerque, N.M., impressed by what she called his "strong moral compass."

..."On November 2nd, America faces a choice between a strong and steadfast president and his opponent, who seems to adopt a new position every day," Cheney said. "Just last week, John Kerry gave us what I think is his eighth position on the war in Iraq."

Kerry's "back-and-forth reflects a habit of indecision and sends a message of confusion," Cheney said, suggesting that Kerry would be dangerous in a time of international uncertainty.

He derided Kerry for what Cheney called his "big idea for the economy: raise our taxes."

Judging from many voters' responses on the campaign trail, Cheney's searing indictment of Kerry is all the more effective delivered in that steady voice, devoid of any flashy rhetorical flourishes.

"He told us the difference between them," said Diana Durflinger of Ottumwa after the town-hall meeting there. "But it was done in a nice way."

"He don't seem harsh," agreed Bonnie Hoefer of Ottumwa. "It isn't forced. It isn't yelling. It's just informing you."

I love the part where the exude Cheney for being Christian, as if John Kerry is anything but. He's a devout Catholic, who attends church weekly. Not to speak for Cheney, but it's been proven that Bush doesn't even attend church. They claim it's for security reasons, but the article points out that the Clintons had no problems attending church during Bill's tenure in the White House. I guess since John Kerry is Catholic might make a few people uncomfortable, but how you can praise the Bush team for being so Christian despite the Kerry/Edwards ticket being the same is beyond me.

Finally, here's an excellent story discussing John Edwards and how he differes from Cheney:

During two months of campaigning, Edwards has responded to verbal bombs lobbed by the Bush campaign, including Cheney's suggestion two weeks ago that a Kerry victory would make the country more vulnerable to a terrorist attack. He said Cheney's comments were "meant to scare voters, period. . . . It was way over the top, and I think un-American"

What he doesn't do is go for the jugular, and mirror Cheney's role in the GOP campaign. The vice president energizes the base, talking about war, guns and abortion and making tough and often personal attacks against the Democrats. Edwards presents the friendly, empathetic face to voters on the fence. It is Kerry who uses the tough rhetoric to criticize Bush's leadership and integrity.

"I would dispute assertions some people have made that [Edwards] should adopt the persona and tactics of Dick Cheney," said Tad Devine, a top campaign adviser. He argued that Edwards's down-home, upbeat style has generated attention and excitement on the campaign trail "not by slashing and burning, which is Cheney's trademark. His campaign style is incredibly powerful and connects with people with a message of moving the nation in a new direction."

Shanto Iyengar, a Stanford University professor who specializes in political communication, agrees that Edwards would not be a credible hatchet man because of his studied effort all through the Democratic primaries to hew to the high road. Still, Iyengar said the campaign is not making the best use of Edwards's skills.

"I think the real problem is not that Edwards is not going enough negative, it's not seeing enough Edwards," Iyengar said. "He does really well articulating this idea of economic insecurity, and that seems to have slipped off the table in recent weeks" as the Bush campaign has kept the focus on Iraq and terrorism. Iyengar said the Kerry campaign should send Edwards to major media markets to get more attention for the campaign's argument that Bush has neglected working- and middle-class families.

... Edwards agrees. In an interview aboard his plane recently, he said he did not believe personally attacking Bush and Cheney was a winning strategy. "What drives me every day is not George Bush and Dick Cheney," he said. "What drives me every day is what they're doing to the kind of people I grew up with. . . . They're making their lives impossible, and they're doing it to help take care of their friends at Halliburton and people like that, and it's wrong. . . . I think the most effective way to do that is to focus on the facts because the facts are overwhelming."

He lays out the facts as he sees them in a stump speech that suggests Bush has done nothing right during four years in office. He declares that Bush has made "a mess" of the war in Iraq and blasts the administration for awarding a "multibillion-dollar, no-bid contract to Halliburton, Dick Cheney's company," to rebuild Iraq. He tells voters that Bush has betrayed them on economics issues: "Five million people have lost their health care, 4 million more people have fallen into poverty, more than 1 1/2 million private-sector jobs have been lost." This past week, in criticizing the ballooning federal deficit, Edwards accused Bush of acting "like he's Ken Lay and America is his Enron. . . . What happens when CEOs run a company the way George Bush has run America is they get fired."

But Edwards does not scowl or shout, and he chooses his words carefully. Last week, the campaign issued a statement attributed to Edwards, criticizing Bush's management of the economy. When Edwards delivered his remarks in Oregon, he left out some of the statement. Asked why, he said, "I said what I thought was the strongest thing to say. . . . I make my own judgments; people don't put words in my mouth."

Indeed, Dick Cheney he is not. I agree that John Edwards deserves more TV time. I follow the Kerry campaign closely and have only seen him on a few times overall. He's a wonderful speaker and a man of strong convictions. His beliefs: that we are all equal, that we should all deserve comfort and happiness and that we deserve an administration that caters to no "higher authority". I don't care what people say about big business running our nations two parties: it's obvious that the Democrats don't believe in giving in to corporate pressures like the Republicans do and John Edwards is the embodiment of that idea.
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