Big boost for Kerry with NY Times endorsement
By Khalid Hasan
WASHINGTON: John Kerry’s campaign receivesd a major boost on Sunday as the most respected and influential newspaper in America, the New York Times, editorially endorsed him for President.
In a long editorial, the newspaper said it was impressed with Kerry’s wide knowledge and clear thinking. He was willing to re-evaluate decisions when conditions change. His entire life has been devoted to public service, from the war to a series of elected offices. “He strikes us, above all, as a man with a strong moral core,” it added. The race, the newspaper pointed out, is mainly about President Bush’s “disastrous tenure.” Criticising his appointment of John Ashcroft as Attorney General, the editorial also castigated the President for his record on education and the environment. Describing the President’s tax-cutting agenda as “perhaps the most shocking example of his inability to change his priorities in the face of drastically altered circumstances,” the newspaper also found the Bush anti-terrorism policies inadequate, pointing out that 90 percent of the cargo unloaded every day in the nation’s ports still goes uninspected.
While endorsing Bush’s invasion of Afghanistan, the liberal daily accused the President and his team of a “Nixonian obsession with secrecy, disrespect for civil liberties and inept management.” American citizens were detained for long periods, it noted, without access to lawyers or family members. Immigrants were rounded up and forced to languish in what the Justice Department’s own inspector general found were often “unduly harsh” conditions. Men captured in the Afghan war were held incommunicado with no right to challenge their confinement. The Justice Department became a cheerleader for skirting decades-old international laws and treaties forbidding the brutal treatment of prisoners taken during wartime. “Other nations, perceiving that the vast bulk of the prisoners held for so long at Guantánamo Bay came from the same line of ineffectual incompetents or unlucky innocents, and seeing the awful photographs from the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, were shocked that the nation that was supposed to be setting the world standard for human rights could behave that way,” the editorial said.
The leading article called Bush’s “obsession” with Saddam Hussein “closer to zealotry than mere policy.” He sold the war to the American people, and to Congress, as an anti-terrorist campaign even though Iraq had no known working relationship with Al Qaeda. His most frightening allegation was that Saddam Hussein was close to getting nuclear weapons. “None of the president’s chief advisers have ever been held accountable for their misrepresentations to the American people or for their mismanagement of the war that followed,” the comment added. The international outrage over the American invasion is now joined by a sense of disdain for the incompetence of the effort, it noted. “Moderate Arab leaders who have attempted to introduce a modicum of democracy are tainted by their connection to an administration that is now radioactive in the Muslim world. Heads of rogue states, including Iran and North Korea, have been taught decisively that the best protection against a pre-emptive American strike is to acquire nuclear weapons themselves,” said the newspaper.
Kerry, wrote the New York Times, has the capacity to do far, far better. He has a willingness - sorely missing in Washington these days - to reach across the aisle. “We are relieved that he is a strong defender of civil rights, that he would remove unnecessary restrictions on stem cell research and that he understands the concept of separation of church and state. We appreciate his sensible plan to provide health coverage for most of the people who currently do without … He has always understood that America’s appropriate role in world affairs is as leader of a willing community of nations, not in my-way-or-the-highway domination. We look back on the past four years with hearts nearly breaking, both for the lives unnecessarily lost and for the opportunities so casually wasted. Time and again, history invited George W Bush to play a heroic role, and time and again he chose the wrong course. We believe that with John Kerry as president, the nation will do better.