The New Republican: The Case Against "The Case Against Bush"

The New Republic didn't endorse John F. Kerry in the Democratic primaries. The magazine (quite sensibly) backed Joe Lieberman. Never ones to stifle dissent, the editors also ran articles endorsing Wesley Clark (by J. Peter Scoblic), John Edwards (Michelle Cottle), Richard Gephardt (Michael Crowley), and even Howard Dean (Jonathan Cohn). (A sidebar in that same issue presciently observes of Kerry: "The core problem with Kerry's candidacy ... has been that the man has never had a clear rationale for running. He has no Big Idea, no passionate constituency, no unique ideological niche." Thank you, Michael Crowley.)

But Democrats will be Democrats, and Kerry was the man they picked to represent them in this year's election. So TNR dutifully rises to the occasion and puts together a two-part series titled (mark this well) "The Case Against George W. Bush." Part 1, by Franklin Foer (July 5/12 print issue), takes the President to task for his approach to expert advisers; Part 2, by Jonathan Chait (July 16), criticizes the administration's transparency, or lack of it. Do they make some fair points? Sure. But they don't convince me that Bush is unfit to be President, or that a Bush presidency imperils the future of the nation. So it is really not a "case against Bush"; it is a list of criticisms, some of them perhaps valid, others almost certainly oveblown. What we're left with at the end is: So what?

The red-shirted DNC activists in my neighborhood have apparently heeded the Kerry campaign's injunction against negative politics, so now instead of "Wanna help get George Bush out of the White House?", they greet you with "Wanna help elect John Kerry?" Well, as they say in Yiddish, Das helft gornisht. That's the problem facing the Democrats in general and TNR in particular: It's not enough to criticize the Bush administration, even if you elevate the criticism to a "case against". You've got to offer an alternative. So what's the alternative to George W. Bush? John F. Kerry, of course.

The New Republic didn't make a "case for John F. Kerry" during the primary, and it still hasn't made one. That's a shame, because a good magazine like TNR ought to be able to put on together.

Say, maybe I can help.

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