Not Eudora   By Harry Welty
Published Sept 2, 2004

After Day One

After day one of the Republican National Convention my gut tells me that George W. Bush is sixty days away from reelection. Of course, it’s not just my gut. I’ve also heard that polls in three of the battleground states, including delegate rich Florida and Pennsylvania, have recently swung Bush’s way.

But it’s the convention, more than the polls, that has me convinced. My first choice for President, John McCain, and former NYC Mayor, Rudy Giuliani, gave the President, such a good endorsement that I was almost persuaded to cast my vote for him. That’s not how I’ve been leaning for the past few months. Since I’m a typical undecided voter it strikes me that my fellow undecideds will probably fall under the spell cast by these men.

Of course, even if the President wins electorally it will only be a narrow victory, at least in the popular vote. The stark divisions in America have resurfaced now that 9/11 has given way to disorder in Iraq. Bush’s reelection can not make him the “uniter” that he promised to be in 2000.

McCain’s, testimonial was remarkable for its Christian forbearance considering how Bush’s rich, Texas, friends slandered him in South Carolina. They killed McCain’s Presidential campaign by telling voters that McCain’s five years in the Hanoi Hilton had rendered him unfit for the Oval Office and suggesting that he had fathered an illegitimate black child. Despite this calumny McCain earnestly told the convention that George W. Bush had courageously taken the war on terrorism to the enemy. He was even gracious enough not to spoil the speech by repeating his oft stated belief that America has no business cutting taxes during war time.

McCain’s speech earned only polite applause. The red meat was delivered by Rudy Giuliani. The chatty, good humored Mayor gave an often funny and sometimes poignant speech. He contrasted Bush’s resolution with our erstwhile allies long history of accommodating terrorists. I laughed despite myself when Rudy described the Secret Service’s consternation when a huge, meaty, New York, construction worker gave President Bush a bear hug after ordering him to get the terrorists. I say “despite myself” because I worry that the President has unwittingly enlarged the pool of angry, young terrorist wannabes.

I’m concerned about NAFTA, the Supreme Court, and the deficit but I will cast my vote this year with the war and national security in mind. I believe that the loss of the national unity we enjoyed after 9/11 will greatly handicap us. I believe that this loss can be laid directly at the President’s feet. I will also be thinking about Andy and Robin.

Andy and Robin are two fine young men that I’ve gotten to know over five years during week-long church mission trips to fix up the homes of the poor. Though quite different personalities, Andy being gung ho and Robin quietly thoughtful, they are both heading off to Iraq. One of the allures of military service is help with a college education, something that is getting harder for middle class students to finance. Although Iraq comes as an unanticipated detour for them, both Andy and Robin will do what our nation asks of them without complaint. This is a sacrifice that we taxpayers will not be sharing with them. In fact, the bill for Iraq will be left to Andy and Robyn. They will have to pay it off provided that they return home safely.

I can’t help but wonder if the decision to postpone the taxes for Iraq was made to stimulate the economy in anticipation of this election year.  If this tax relief was contrived for the purpose of electioneering it was a shameful decision.

The cold, calculating analyst in me is impressed with George Bush’s reelection campaign. Unlike his Father, who was undone by a year and half of peace after the First Gulf War, George W. Bush has the advantage of a continuing war to keep voters on edge and worried about their security. The President has been an indefatigable campaigner and once again effective innuendo is about the land discrediting his opponent

Some swift boat veterans have claimed that John Kerry’s war was largely a fiction. Most recently, the length of Kerry’s war duty – four months – has come under fire. This raises another war related question. Is time on the frontlines the new standard for courage?

My grandfather won a fistful of medals and a return trip home on a hospital ship after World War I. Unlike the European soldiers who spent up to four years in the trenches, American Soldiers spent no more than 193 days at the front. My Grandfather’s tour at the frontlines lasted only months. Does this new standard of courage call my Grandfather’s contribution into question? If so, then the men who died on the beaches of Normandy before wading ashore, were hardly heroes at all. Their war lasted but minutes. Apparently the poor wretches, whose bodies littered Normandy ’s beaches were far less heroic than I had once thought. Such is the fog of war.

Welty is a small time politician (sort of the moderate Republican equivalent of the Democrat’s Senator Zell Miller) who lets it all hang out at: www.snowbizz.com.