Saturday, April 10, 2004

My wife, Keryn, paraphrased Condi Rice's testimony before the 9/11 commission in such a way that I became a stronger supporter of Bush's policies than I have ever been.

Let's take Iraq first. How can we fix terrorism? Can we kill all the terrorists? Not likely. It seems the very act of killing them encourages more to join their cause. We need to find the root cause. Poor people are a lot more likely to become suicide bombers than rich people. Those who are satisfied with life won't sign on to join a terrorist organization.

Part of what helped in the spread and adoption of Islam in its early centuries was the fact that it brought economic prosperity with it. It seems that while the world moved on--toward greater equality for all people and greater economic freedoms--the Islamic powers didn't. I don't even pretend to know why they haven't progressed. I don't think I have enough facts.

Because of my ignorance, I can't tell you if Bush's policy in Iraq will work, but the premise makes perfect sense. Change Iraq. Help them find the benefits of a capitalistic society governed my some form of democracy. Help them see that religion can still flourish in that environment. As Iraq succeeds, others will follow and the whole region can be pulled into the 21st century.

Is Iraq a "distraction in the war on terror"? Not if Bush's bet it right. He may be able to strike at the root cause rather than mopping up the effects as best he can. This is a long term strategy that doesn't promise many short term benefits. It may mean he won't get a second term. Perhaps history will judge him differently.

Now let's turn to Bush's "compassionate conservatism." He's been maligned during this campaign season for failing to be compassionate enough. I'm thinking about treatment of domestic issues of poverty and other social ills.

The lesson of history seems to be clear: giving people money seems to be a temporary aid with long term downsides. If we want to address poverty, we must address the root cause. Bush has been accused of throwing a bone to his conservative base by backing marriage initiatives. However, studies seem to indicate that marriage would solve most of our poverty problems in the United States. In case you missed the dramatic importance of that statement, that means huge savings for the government in welfare programs. Marriage doesn't cost us anything! It is all upside. It seems extraordinarily wise to promote marriage for all the long term benefits to society.

I don't know if Bush is right on Iraq. But at least I feel like I understand his reasons for being there. I know he's right on marriage. His forward thinking policies in these two areas are reason enough for me to support him again in a second term, firm in the belief that he will continue to work for the long term interests of our society and country.

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