October 5, 2004


Who Was Right About the 'Global Test'- Jefferson or Hitler? (Thom Hartmann, 10/04/04, CommonDreams.Org)

It started when the moderator, Jim Lehrer, asked Kerry: "What is your position on the whole concept of preemptive war?"

Kerry answered, "The president always has the right, and always has had the right, for preemptive strike. That was a great doctrine throughout the Cold War. And it was always one of the things we argued about with respect to arms control.

"No president, through all of American history, has ever ceded, and nor would I, the right to preempt in any way necessary to protect the United States of America.

"But if and when you do it, Jim, you have to do it in a way that passes the test, that passes the global test where your countrymen, your people understand fully why you're doing what you're doing and you can prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons." [...]

Commentators in the media, noting Bush's distortion of Kerry's words, and how that distortion is now being used so aggressively in Bush campaign ads, glibly quote prizefighter Jack Dempsey's famous line, "The best defense is a good offense."

But the quote more likely on the minds of Bush and his handlers comes from the last leader of a major industrial power who led his nation to war on a pretense based in lies.

"Thus we may explain the fact that since 1918 the men who have held the reins of government adopted an entirely negative attitude towards foreign affairs and the business of the State," noted Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf. This was possible, he said, because at least a third of "the masses of our people, whose sheepish docility corresponds to their want of intelligence...just submit to it because they are too stupid to understand."

Confident that a cowed media won't call him on it, and that with enough fog about "French permission" that the American people won't remember Kerry's actual words or the text of Bush's war letter to Congress, the Bush campaign continues their Big Lie strategy.

On November 2nd, we'll learn which shall prevail in this election year: The "test" of Jefferson - to "let Facts be submitted to a candid world" - or the tactics of a demagogue trying to hide his own High Crimes with spin and Big Lies.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 5, 2004 1:25 PM

Shouldn't this be under the daily obligatory Bush=Hitler reference?

Posted by: AWW at October 5, 2004 1:31 PM

It is in the categories.

Posted by: oj at October 5, 2004 1:42 PM

The media isn't cowed by Kerry; they are in the estrus position.

One tough interview would cause Kerry to drop 5 points or more, and you can bet that all the major media figureheads know it. For Tom, Peter, Judy, Rick Kaplan, et al., defending Kerry is as natural as defending Dan Rather.

Posted by: jim hamlen at October 5, 2004 2:22 PM

Except a large part of the world doesn't want "Facts be submitted to" it, but it wants to hear the "spin and Big Lies" of Kerry and the Dems.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at October 5, 2004 2:23 PM

If were are to take Kerry's "Global Test" seriously, I think that the only way of understanding and operationalizing it, is as a reformulation of the maxim of Kantian ethics that one should always act as if one's actions will become a universal law. The appeal to the Global Test therefore is an appeal to universal reason.

Kerry seems to believe that, at least if he is President, the world will listen to his arguments, will accept them at face value and will judge them in accordance with tenets of universal rationality.

Kerry's mention of a French leader and the United Nations in this context are not acidental. The French have always fancied themselves to be the embodiments of universal reason ( "The French-- cowardly, yet opinionated; arrogant, yet foul-smelling" is an Anglo-Saxon assesment) and the United Nations is based on Kant's proposal for a league of the world’s nations that would unite and punish any nation that committed an act of aggression.

I am not here to debate the validity of Kantian philosophy. I think that it is safe to say that most Americans do not accept it. It has never been popular in the English speaking world, even though it is foundational on the continent. One problem is that Americans, do not to believe in universal reason (although they do believe in a personal God), they therefore understand Kerry's demand for proof to the world as proof to partial, fallible human beings, who in their experience are uninformed as to the facts and are burdened with anti-American prejudices.

For example, a majority of the Arab world believes to this day, that the 9/11 attacks were made by Israeli security forces. When men start from such premises, we can talk until we are blue in the face and we will prove nothing to them.

Bush, like most Americans, believes that he will have to justify himself before God. And any President will have to justify himself before Congress and the American people. But world opinion whether as a proxy for universal rationality or a concrete entity is not in that chain of command, and the American people will not accept its addition thereto.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at October 5, 2004 2:39 PM

Jefferson was not concerned with contemporary world approval. Nor were the sentiments expressed within the Declaration contingent on the opinions of European royalty in order to be operable. History was to be the judge. The idiocy of the left is amazing, scary.

Posted by: Tom C, Stamford,Ct. at October 5, 2004 4:18 PM

Wasn't LBJ "the last leader of a major industrial power who led his nation to war on a pretense based in lies", over the phantom Tonkin Gulf attack ?

Posted by: Buck Rogers at October 5, 2004 4:36 PM

Or Bush in Afghanistan or Clinton in Bosnia/Kosovo or Bush in Iraq I, etc., etc., etc.

Posted by: oj at October 5, 2004 4:42 PM

Great analysis there by Robert Schwartz.

Regarding the presidential debate last week, I conducted my top-secret patented yakkalysis(TM) of the respective performances of Messrs. Bush and Kerry.


Vocal delivery:
The president's voice is compressed by almost tectonic stresses to a narrow band of vocalization. He speaks like a man with his jaw wired shut, as though wary of letting too much of his breath escape.
Senator Kerry speaks in booming cadences; every phrase "hath a rounded and orbicular sound to it, and rings like unto bullion". He has worked hard for many years, honing his delivery so that he can modulate effortlessly from a conversational patter to the stentorian heights of a prosecutor addressing a jury.
Score: Kerry 1, Bush 0

Focus and concentration:
Pres. Bush, an MBA by training and a businessman before entering public life, starts well and displays an effective mix of enthusiasm and "time generalship" in his initial two-minute responses to Jim Lehrer's questions. However, this debate does not follow his usual rhythm of fifteen-minute meetings. At the halfway mark, unable to look forward to the variety and intellectual stimulation provided by a fourth, fifth, and sixth interlocutor (each with a different agenda), he is still stuck with on the same stage with Lurch. He is running out of new ways in which to answer the Chinese water torture of Jim Lehrer's questions, which revisit the same ground again and again. Boredom sets in, and the President's voice turns listless.
Senator Kerry is a lawyer by training and worked as a trial lawyer when he was a district attorney. In addition, he has the lawyer's gift for waiting, frog-like, until the bush fly comes too close by accident and --thwapp! his red elongated tongue shoots out in hopes of nailing his prey. He almost succeeds in doing so when Bush misspeaks ("The enemy attacked us" as justification for going into Iraq), and Bush has to scramble. However, immediately afterward Kerry relaxes too soon and fritters away his advantage with the now-infamous "global test" that the U.S. must pass before it may engage in preemptive war.
Score: Kerry 1 1/2, Bush 1/2

Logical coherence, credibility of argument
It isn't a great night for President Bush as an orator, but he manages to stay true to what he knows about the foreign policy situation of the United States. He gives the television audience straight talk about the seriousness of the current crisis and outlines a course of action -- defend the U.S. first, but also spread freedom across the world as another effective line of defense -- that impresses in its simplicity. At the same time, Bush cannot hide his anguish over whatever bloodshed and destruction still lie ahead, at home and abroad; this is not verbalized but comes through in the president's voice. Most listeners will see this not as weakness but as evidence of sincerity and commitment.
Senator Kerry, on the other hand, is doomed from the start by being unable to spin his many flips and flops to craft a facade of integrity and steadfastness. His many references to "my service in Viet Nam" became a running joke during the Democratic primaries and make even his supporters cringe. Worst of all, once you peel away the veneer of Kerry's booming cadences and his "rounded, orbicular sound", there is no supporting structure there to be found. No earthly logic connects one sentence to the next. It is the inevitable consequence of having to please too many constituencies that share little in common.
Score: Kerry 1 1/2, Bush 1 1/2

Conclusion: The first presidential debate was a tie, neither candidate improved his position significantly.

Posted by: Eugene S. at October 5, 2004 5:46 PM

Thanks, King.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at October 5, 2004 9:22 PM