- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 2, 2004

The balloons have fallen, the Fat Lady has begun dress rehearsals for her Election Day performance, and between now and Nov. 2. special interest groups are going to try convince American voters to cast ballots for John Kerry and John Edwards.

Some voters don’t need convincing.

For the most part, voters were asked this week to decide where they would rather stand: Under an umbrella with a commander in chief who tosses “spitballs” at the bad guys? Or under a tent with a commander in chief who declares and executes war against the bad guys?

There wasn’t enoughtalk leadingup to President Bush’s appearanceregarding domestic issues, the very issues we must pin down the three candidates (don’t forget Ralph Nader) on between now and Nov. 2.

We did, though, get a peek at what’s under the tent — despite the rainbow of folks out there who, now that the Bush-Cheney ticket is official, want you to believe there is room for only white, male right-wingers. (Remember what happens to the umbrella once the rainbow crosses the sky.)

Listening to Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele the other night, I thought none of the speakers would top his “But not John Kerry” take on the latter’s long record of voting against strengthening America’s military and supporting America’s troops. But “Zig-Zag” Zell Miller outdid Mr. Steele on “Flip-Flop” John Kerry. “Motivated more by partisan politics than by national security, today’s Democratic leaders see America as an occupier, not a liberator. And nothing makes this Marine madder than someone calling American troops occupiers rather than liberators.” The Georgia Democrat, who served as keynote speaker, also listed several weapons systems that Mr. Kerry opposed, including the B-1 and B-2 bombers and the F-14A Tomcats. John Kerry, Mr. Miller asked, “Is the man who wants to be the commander in chief of our U.S. armed forces? U.S. armed forces armed with what? Spitballs?”

Nonetheless, American voters who are undecided should remember those words and the words of Mr. Steele and the others who stand under the Republican Party’s huge tent.

Terrorism is certainly on the minds of voters as we peruse the news pages and peer at the TV screens and read and see images of terrorists and militant groups killing and pillaging around the world. The narco-terrorists in Latin America. The militants in Sudan. The armed guerrillas in Russia. Al Qaeda, Hamas and other terror groups.

It is vitally important that we confront those images, as disturbing as they are.

Still, we need to hear the candidates articulate their domestic issues. Voters appreciate Bush supporters heaping criticism upon Mr. Kerry and his running mate, John Edwards, and understand why, as Mr. Bush and his running mate, Dick Cheney, gain momentum, that Mr. Kerry and Mr. Edwards go on the attack. But voters need a picture — a vision — of what the Republicans stand for.

The convention quote this week that best describes where Republicans stand was delivered by Mr. Steele: “The promise of America is the promise of endless possibilities. America remains that place President Reagan called ‘a shining city on a hill.’ But while the promise of America is real, the challenges we face to secure that promise for every American are no less real. We must continue to be vigilant in our fight against the blight of poverty, poor education and lost opportunity.

“What truly defines the civil rights challenge today isn’t whether you can get a seat at the lunch counter. It’s whether you can own that lunch counter in order to create a legacy of wealth for your children.”

The oxymoron of the century (same-sex marriage), as well as education, tax cuts, free enterprise, homeownership and other close-to-home issues on the Bush-Cheney domestic agenda made brief appearances in the remarks made by Laura Bush, Lynne Cheney, Arnold Schwarzenegger and others. Now is the time for the Bush-Cheney ticket to hammer it home.

This is a land of unique and incredible opportunities. Anyone who does not believe that needs only to look at the people risking their lives trying to put foreign foot to U.S. soil.

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