Wednesday, October 27, 2004

The polls have President Bush and Sen. John Kerry neck-and-neck, but I do not believe that is true. It is not that I believe that the polls are intrinsically inaccurate, but rather that this election is so profoundly important for the future of the nation that many voters will make up their minds, or change their minds, at the last moment.

I have no scientific evidence, but my decades of experience covering politics leads me to a piece of unconventional wisdom — that the election will not be a tight horse race but that Mr. Bush will win re-election by at least 5 percentage points, and even more in the Electoral College.

There are 10 reasons why I believe in Mr. Bush’s reelection, all of them intuitive but still as educated as possible at this juncture. They are:

1. Mr. Kerry is a good debater, but perhaps too good. He marshals his arguments, has them ad infinitum, but appears too slick and comes finally across as a skilled but insincere man. Mr. Bush, on the other hands, thinks and talks haltingly at times but is obviously very sincere with a great love of country. Mr. Kerry’s love seems reserved for himself. When it comes to patriotism, sincerity trumps skill every time.

2. The war is not going as well as Americans would have hoped. But most Americans rally when facing struggle and, as in World War II, hope for the best. Mr. Kerry, on other hand, uses every setback in Iraq to his advantage, seemingly to gloat over the death of every brave American soldier. No one likes a political ghoul, and Mr. Kerry is doing a facile imitation of one.

3. The black vote, so important in Florida, seems to be breaking somewhat more for Mr. Bush. As blacks gain such middle class standards as homeownership, they tend to wander from their usual Democratic base. In fact, without the black vote there is no viable Democratic Party. Al Gore lost only 9 percent of the black vote to the Republicans in 2000, but Mr. Bush seems destined to take 15 percent or more this time. The difference of several million votes could tilt the balance. At the same time, the socially conservative black church vote is angry at the Democrats for supporting such policies as same-sex “marriage.”

4. Late-night comedians use the flip-floppery of Mr. Kerry as a stand-up gag. It’s funny because it’s true, and voters fear a man who changes his views with the daily polls. When Howard Dean was leading the Democratic primaries because of his anti-war stance, Mr. Kerry became a vociferous anti-war politician. Americans don’t like opportunists, and Mr. Kerry has shown himself to be an adroit one.

5. The important Jewish vote is also moving somewhat toward Mr. Bush. Typically, 80 percent of Jews vote Democratic, but this year because of Mr. Bush’s unequivocal support for Israel, the Jewish vote should be 27-30 percent for Mr. Bush. The Democrats offer lip service to Israel, but the Republicans — as per Richard Nixon’s sending U.S. fighter jets to save Israel during the Yom Kippur War — are true allies of that democracy in the Middle East. A larger Republican Jewish vote could easily swing Florida to Mr. Bush.

6. Some independents will vote for Mr. Bush at the last minute in order to avoid having Theresa Heinz Kerry replace Laura Bush as First Lady in the White House.

7. Despite his protestations, many Americans are suspicious of Mr. Kerry’s patriotism. In 1971, he parroted communist propaganda that GIs were “war criminals” through his anti-American testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. More recently, the former chief of the Romanian KGB, now in the United States, has written that his group created the propaganda, and were pleased when Mr. Kerry became a spokesman for those lies.

8. Mr. Kerry, many Americans fear, would not support a strong military. In 1984, in his race for the Senate, he advocated eliminating or significantly cutting most of our arsenal from the Apache helicopter to the F-15 fighter to the Trident nuclear missile sub. In the 1960s, former Soviet officials have since revealed, Leonid Brezhnev contemplated a first nuclear strike but dropped the idea when faced with our nuclear sub potential, which Mr. Kerry asked be reduced.

9. Mr. Kerry has subtly stated that he knows his patriotic defense record is not a good one, calling some of it “ill-advised,” even “stupid,” pointing out that people learn from their errors. That, however, is in doubt in his case since only recently he voted against the $87 billion appropriation for the troops in Iraq after having voted for the war. He seems totally in the spell of such former Democratic leaders as George McGovern, the party’s presidential candidate in 1972, whose answer to the Soviet threat was to cut our defense budget by 30 percent.

10. Mr. Kerry is too full of himself, too boastful about his war record. Apparently he promoted his three purple heart decorations in order to leave Vietnam early. Sen. Bob Dole, who was always humble about his enormous sacrifice during World War II, said that Mr. Kerry was the first veteran who ever received three purple hearts yet never shed a drop of blood.

It is my belief that this race for the presidency is beyond partisan politics. It is a contest of sincerity and patriotism, one which Mr. Kerry fails. I cannot imagine John Kerry, the opportunist, as president, so perhaps these 10 reasons will succeed where the polls have — I hope — failed.

Martin L. Gross, a former Air Force officer, is also a former official of the Democratic Party.

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