With President Bush and Senator Kerry having concluded their debates and Anericans preparing to make up their minds, The New York Sun endorses the president for a second term. We have little doubt that we'd have done this even without the outbreak of what Norman Podhoretz has called World War IV. The reason we picked up the flag of the Sun in launching this paper is that we were inspired by its long commitment to limited government, honest government, low taxation, economic growth, constitutionalism, and equality under the law. By all these measures Mr. Bush strikes us as the far better candidate - more intelligent, more principled, more trustworthy.
But the biggest issue before the voters is the war, in respect of which Mr. Bush is, compared to the man from Massachusetts, the greater leader offering the more inspiring vision. Our concerns with Mr. Kerry go back to Vietnam, a battle in a Cold War in which, by our lights, Mr. Bush served with greater distinction than Mr. Kerry, despite the medals the senator threw away. We comprehend and respect that many honorable Americans dissented from the Vietnam War, but this newspaper is with the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and the veterans of the communist dungeons in North Vietnam who will be appearing in advertisements in the final weeks of this campaign. We, too, find it difficult to forgive Mr. Kerry's testimony before the Senate after his return from Vietnam, his treating with enemy diplomats in Paris while our GIs were in the most desperate hours of the fight, and his belittlement of the idea of a communist threat.
These columns were among the first to voice concern that Mr. Kerry's behavior then would be a predictor of his eventual stance in respect of the current war, a concern that, sad to say, has proven all too well placed. At every turn Mr. Kerry's arguments about the war are riddled with contradictions. He voted for it but against the funds to fight it. Just last week, in the second debate, he said that Iraq before the war was a threat, then he said it wasn't a threat. He counsels appeasement with the mullahs in Tehran. He wants to bow to North Korean demands for direct negotiations with the Americans over Pyongyang's A-bomb program, a program that advanced on the watch of the previous Democratic administration. Mr. Kerry's derision of our allies in this war is an astounding blunder, particularly for a man who attacks Mr. Bush's willingness to go it alone.
President Bush, importantly, has a vision for spreading freedom and democracy abroad, so as to put an end to the regimes that support, harbor, and spawn terrorists. Whether this will actually stop the terrorism is still to be shown. But history shows that free countries are less likely to attack us than tyrannies are. And freedom is America's cause, even apart from the war on terror. Mr. Bush has a record of accomplishment in the war so far. The Taliban regime in Afghanistan is gone, replaced by a government that held free elections in which women were allowed to vote. Saddam Hussein is in a prison cell, awaiting trial for his crimes against the Iraqi people. Three-quarters of the known leaders of Al Qaeda have been killed or captured, Mr. Bush says.
At times during this campaign Mr. Kerry has struck a posture more hawkish than Mr. Bush, as when he speaks of adding new divisions to the American military and when he faults the president for not capturing or killing Osama bin Laden and for letting threats gather in Iran and North Korea. But this is not credible given Mr. Kerry's record, not only with respect to Vietnam but with respect to the first Gulf War, which he opposed, and in the Reagan-era struggle against communism in Central America, another war that Mr. Kerry opposed. Nor is it consistent with his reliance on a United Nations that is a cockpit of anti-Israelism and at which the terrorist-sponsoring state of Syria recently held a seat on the Security Council.
It is our hope, our belief, that a second term for Mr. Bush would allow the president to consolidate his achievements and make further gains both at home and abroad. A second Bush term could bring tort reform that would slow the growth in medical expenses and decrease insurance and legal expenses for American businesses. It could bring Social Security reform with private savings accounts that would make more Americans owners and provide another boost to New York's financial services industry. It could bring extensions of the Bush tax cuts that have restored prosperity to New York. It could bring before the Senate a distinguished series of nominees to the federal courts, no doubt including the Supreme Court, who will hold a view of the Constitution that editors operating under the flag of the Sun have been supporting since the days of Lincoln.
It is well to remember that in those days there were also many, right here in our own city, who warned against a rush to war, or against a war at all, for the kinds of principles and rights that were at stake in the Civil War and are at stake in this war, too. There were important newspapers in the city, or in neighboring Brooklyn, that sided with the South. New York was crawling with copper-head Democrats who stood with the South. There were riots against the draft. Then, and in every war America has been fought since, there have been terrible and trying moments of defeat and discouragement, when there were calls to retreat or to abandon the fight - or to settle. It is Mr. Bush who reflects the spirit of those leaders who stood with the fight. His is the leadership that inspires us as we prepare to vote in November.
Source: New York Sun Staff Editorial