Posted by Ginny on October 30th, 2004 (All posts by Ginny)
A couple of weeks ago, Reason took a survey of the voting preferences of various libertarian luminaries. One of the most luminous, Pinker, argued with some reasonable (if, I thought, disproportionate) examples of the irrational homeland security policy. He told us he’d vote for Kerry because Bush uses too little reason. Well, maybe. But this weekend I’m struck by examples of how little reason the “scientific” community uses in approaching Bush and, well, how “reasonable” Bush is. Indeed, I wonder if these “reasoning” Bush-haters realize how tattered the public’s respect for such professional judgments is likely to be after these last few months. And how this loss of authority is likely to play out in the future.
As Shannon Love has noted, The Lancet, a respected science journal, wants to affect our votes. I figure we all do (and should) vote from an American perspective. Sure the Brits stood by us (and the Iraqis); they deserve a polite response. They do not deserve the respect a commentator asked for – that by the nature of the journal we should respect its conclusions. But if any other nation has earned our ears about this election it is probably Iraq. If we should vote against Bush for the reasons The Lancet raises, we should hear an amen from the Iraqis. I’m not sure that’s the word they’d choose.
While we’ve been debating how many Iraqis have been killed, a series of posts by Instapundit give us a perspective on the world beyond that of the medicine of The Lancet and the psychoanalysis of Justin Frank, whose extraordinarily partisan analysis of Bush’s psychiatric problems was countered by Stanley Renshon’s clearly more measured biography in a C-Span panel.
So, here, let’s take a longer range (geographically and historically) perspective, with an editorial by Lawrence Kaplan, “Bush Voters in Baghdad” on WSJ Online. And, while this doesn’t reinforce Shannon’s specific points, I suspect it points to the general thrust of her argument:
Partly this derives from the simple fact that, as polls show, the overwhelming majority of Iraqis don’t care who wins our election. Their concerns run closer to home–especially how to stay alive. There’s an exception, however: the thousands of academics, lawyers, rights advocates and other educated elites leading the effort to create a new Iraq–nearly all of whom have hitched their fortunes to our own and nearly all of whom hope that President Bush wins.
He discusses the various responses by Iraqis, and notes:
Not surprisingly, surveys by the Iraqi Center for Research and Strategic Studies find that, whereas Mr. Bush garners the most support in the Kurdish north and from Iraq’s well-educated urban elites, Mr. Kerry draws his strongest support from what the Center’s Sadoun al-Dulame calls Iraq’s “hottest places”–hotbeds of resistance to the U.S. A poll taken earlier this month in Baghdad, for example, finds that while President Bush would win a higher tally in New Baghdad’s Christian precincts, Sen. Kerry carries Sadr City hands down.
As Barone (and countless others) point out, this may make foreign policy difficult in a divided America facing a divided Iraq; Kaplan continues:
Leaving aside that speechifying about a U.S. withdrawal culminates in what Mr. Rubaie describes as “a huge moral boost to the terrorists”: How does Sen. Kerry intend to work alongside the pro-U.S. Iraqis he denigrates at every turn? This is a practical as well as a moral question. By advancing the fiction that there’s no such thing as bringing the troops home too soon and nothing to justify an adequate level of expenditure in Iraq, he’s already signaled his willingness to forfeit America’s obligation to rebuild the country it turned inside out. And he offers this as heightened moral awareness.