October 31st 2004
On the eve of the election, the LA Times has admitted on page one that their candidate, Sen. John Flip Kerry, is such a liability that they want to turn voters’s attention away from him. The lead article in Real Clear Politics today appears above the fold in today’s Times, and boldly deflects attention from Kerry with the headline, “Why ‘This Is About Bush.’” Ronald Brownstein’s piece is based on Isaiah Berlin’s categorization of “intellectuals and artists into two categories: the fox, who is clever, creative, committed to many goals; and the hedgehog, a creature by a single, unwavering conviction.”
Let’s quickly score one for Bush. For Brownstein to move forward on his thesis, he has to accept Bush as either an intellectual or an artist; I’m guessing he hasn’t analyzed Bush’s brush stroke.
One supposes Brownstein positions Kerry as the fox, although the article’s focus on Bush does not leave much room for Brownstein to categorize Kerry at all. Is Kerry “clever, creative, committed to many goals?” Absolutely not. His 20 year Senate record shows a narrowly focused Liberal, a hedgehog if ever there was one. His campaign rhetoric shows a mockingbird, not a fox. See the post on Kyoto below (“Kerry disses Kyoto … no, wait”). Kerry’s only hedgehoggyness is his focus on achieving the presidency, apparently for no other reason than he thinks its his turn. He has not been able to articlulate a vision, and he has never said anything much about his plans except that he has them.
Is Bush a hedgehog? Brownstein avoids some multi-goal attributes, like across-the-board tax cuts and the No Child Left Behind Act, and states his hedgehog argument as follows:
With his repeated tax cuts, his support for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and the war in Iraq, Bush has consistently pursued goals that generate strong support among Republicans and conservatives, but at the price of provoking antipathy among Democrats and liberals.
In his policies, Bush has sought to advance his ideas mainly by holding to sharply defined positions — and attempting to shift the debate in his direction almost by magnetic force.
In his political strategy, he has sought more to deepen his support among groups that lean in his direction than to broaden his appeal among groups that have resisted him.
So it gets down to tax cuts (not exactly a winner for mainstream Dems, since so many of them benefitted from the cuts), gay marriage (a loser for the Dems) and Iraq. In other words, it gets down to Iraq.
I’m tempted to say, “Then bring in the hedgehogs!” when it comes to Iraq. I want a leader with a ruthless, focused, singular commitment to hunting down and killing terrorists, and that’s definitely Bush, not Kerry. But Brownstein has set up a false argument. A hedgehog would still be burrowing around in Tora Bora looking for ObL. Bush quickly realized a broad, multi-front battle was necessary, as he laid out in his 2002 State of the Union address, and he has pursued it in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Warsaw, Damascus, in banking centers, with NATO and the UN, on land, air and sea, from satellites and electronic bugs, using the FBI, CIA, NSA and all other resources and avenues at his disposal.
This is a hedgehog election, but Brownstein has it wrong. It’s a If%20It/102-8667080-8589729′>one issue campaign, not a one-issue campaigner. It’s all about the War on Terrorism, and that’s why Bush is going to win on Tuesday. He is both the hedgehog and the fox on this one.