Two From the Times

The New York Times has long been sound anti-Bush pieces but has, so far, not explicitly endorsed John Kerry. Today, that changed:

The New York Times, one of the nation's largest and most influential papers, endorsed Sen. John Kerry, calling the Democrat "a man with a strong moral core" who "has qualities that could be the basis for a great chief executive."

The Times praised Kerry's "wide knowledge and clear thinking" and called him "blessedly willing to re-evaluate decisions when conditions change." It also said Kerry's "entire life has been devoted to public service."

Kerry also won the endorsement of The Boston Globe, the largest paper in his home state of Massachusetts.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune endorsed him as well.

All three supported Democrat Al Gore for president in 2000.

President Bush was endorsed Sunday by the Chicago Tribune, which praised him for leading a "bolder struggle" than Kerry would against terrorism and a broader effort to defend the United States.

The president also won endorsements from the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, Colorado, and the smaller papers Carlsbad (New Mexico) Current-Argus and Omaha (Nebraska) World Herald.

All those papers supported him in 2000.

While the Chicago Tribune had some kind words for Kerry -- saying both he and Bush have exemplary "integrity, intentions and abilities" -- The New York Times, with a circulation of 1.7 million, assailed Bush's domestic and foreign agenda.

The race, the Times said, "is mainly about Mr. Bush's disastrous tenure."

"Nearly four years ago, after the Supreme Court awarded him the presidency, Mr. Bush came into office amid popular expectation that he would acknowledge his lack of a mandate by sticking close to the center. Instead, he turned the government over to the radical right," the paper wrote.

"The president who lost the popular vote got a real mandate on Sept. 11, 2001. With the grieving country united behind him, Mr. Bush had an unparalleled opportunity to ask for almost any shared sacrifice. The only limit was his imagination. He asked for another tax cut and the war against Iraq."

Accusing Bush of a "Nixonian obsession with secrecy, disrespect for civil liberties and inept management," the Times accused Bush of failures in the war on terrorism. "The Justice Department cannot claim one major successful terrorism prosecution," it said.

"Like the tax cuts, Mr. Bush's obsession with Saddam Hussein seemed closer to zealotry than mere policy," the editorial board said of the Iraq war. "The international outrage over the American invasion is now joined by a sense of disdain for the incompetence of the effort."

"We have specific fears about what would happen in a second Bush term," the paper added.

The paper also said that if Bush is re-elected, "domestic and foreign financial markets will know the fiscal recklessness will continue. Along with record trade imbalances, that increases the chances of a financial crisis, like an uncontrolled decline of the dollar, and higher long-term interest rates."

"The Bush White House has always given us the worst aspects of the American right without any of the advantages," it added. "We get the radical goals but not the efficient management."

Kerry, the Times said, "has the capacity to do far, far better. He has a willingness -- sorely missing in Washington these days -- to reach across the aisle. We are relieved that he is a strong defender of civil rights, that he would remove unnecessary restrictions on stem cell research and that he understands the concept of separation of church and state."

Very dissapointing news that the Chicago Tribune, owned by the same corp. that runs the Cubs, has supported Bush in a state that is likely to be democratic. Their reasoning?

Bush "embraces a bolder struggle" than Kerry would against not only "those who sow terror, but also with rogue governments that harbor, finance or arm them," the paper said, calling it an "unambiguous strategy" most likely to provide a "secure future." Bush "insists on taking the fight to terrorists," the Chicago Tribune editorial board said.

"Bush's sense of a president's duty to defend America is wider in scope than Kerry's, more ambitious in its tactics, more prone, frankly, to yield both casualties and lasting results. This is the stark difference on which American voters should choose a president.

"There is much the current president could have done differently over the last four years. There are lessons he needs to have learned. And there are reasons -- apart from the global perils likely to dominate the next presidency -- to recommend either of these two good candidates. But for his resoluteness on the defining challenge of our age ... the Chicago Tribune urges the re-election of George W. Bush."

The paper did have some harsh words for Kerry, complaining that the "moral certitude" he once displayed "has evaporated." It also said he has "serially dodged" taking a clear position on the war against terrorism and "used his status as a war hero as an excuse not to have a coherent position on America's national security."

We all see where Bush's "bolder struggle" has gotten us so far. Read the whole endorsement right here. Speaking of Bush's actions, the New York Times Magazine has an in-depth look at Bush's "moral compass" and how it runs the country:

...''Just in the past few months,'' Bartlett said, ''I think a light has gone off for people who've spent time up close to Bush: that this instinct he's always talking about is this sort of weird, Messianic idea of what he thinks God has told him to do.'' Bartlett, a 53-year-old columnist and self-described libertarian Republican who has lately been a champion for traditional Republicans concerned about Bush's governance, went on to say: ''This is why George W. Bush is so clear-eyed about Al Qaeda and the Islamic fundamentalist enemy. He believes you have to kill them all. They can't be persuaded, that they're extremists, driven by a dark vision. He understands them, because he's just like them. . . .

''This is why he dispenses with people who confront him with inconvenient facts,'' Bartlett went on to say. ''He truly believes he's on a mission from God. Absolute faith like that overwhelms a need for analysis. The whole thing about faith is to believe things for which there is no empirical evidence.'' Bartlett paused, then said, ''But you can't run the world on faith.''

Forty democratic senators were gathered for a lunch in March just off the Senate floor. I was there as a guest speaker. Joe Biden was telling a story, a story about the president. ''I was in the Oval Office a few months after we swept into Baghdad,'' he began, ''and I was telling the president of my many concerns'' -- concerns about growing problems winning the peace, the explosive mix of Shiite and Sunni, the disbanding of the Iraqi Army and problems securing the oil fields. Bush, Biden recalled, just looked at him, unflappably sure that the United States was on the right course and that all was well. '''Mr. President,' I finally said, 'How can you be so sure when you know you don't know the facts?'''

Biden said that Bush stood up and put his hand on the senator's shoulder. ''My instincts,'' he said. ''My instincts.''

Biden paused and shook his head, recalling it all as the room grew quiet. ''I said, 'Mr. President, your instincts aren't good enough!'''

The democrat Biden and the Republican Bartlett are trying to make sense of the same thing -- a president who has been an extraordinary blend of forcefulness and inscrutability, opacity and action.

Excellent article that's so long, I haven't finished it yet. Check it out when you have some time. Really puts some insight into how Bush gets away with what he does and why so many people who are let go from his service come away with such a bad opinion of the man.
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