Rachael Larimore, Copy Editor:Bush
As a fiscally conservative and socially moderate Republican, it's not always easy to support President Bush. I applaud his resoluteness in combating terrorism and, yeah, I love tax cuts, but he spends too much money and he's wrong on gay marriage. But Kerry will spend too much money and he's only slightly less wrong on gay marriage. So, what else? I disagree with Kerry on issues like taxes, Social Security, abortion, health care, and trade. Nothing, though, is more important than Iraq and terrorism, and Bush "gets it" better than Kerry. Removing Saddam was right—as Tony Blair said, "history will forgive" an absence of WMD—whether we had U.N. approval or not. The insurgency is deeply troubling, but I don't trust Kerry to improve the situation. The only fresh idea in his four-point plan for Iraq—the promise to bring in more allies—has been rendered moot by statements from France and Germany (talk about a coalition of the bribed and the coerced!) that they would not send troops. His convention-speech promise to "respond" to every terrorist attack combined with his "global test" comment in the first debate, convey a certain squishiness toward threats to our nation. Mock me as a security mom if you will, but I'm sticking with Bush.
Josh Levin, Assistant Editor: Kerry
If my absentee ballot arrives in time, I'm voting for Kerry because I'm a Democrat who's concerned about the Supreme Court, the environment, taxes, and the separation of church and state. I also think that if Kerry gets elected, the world will be just a bit less dangerous, and I'm all for baby steps away from mutual assured destruction.
Dahlia Lithwick, Senior Editor: Neither
I won't be voting. I am a Canadian citizen. Which may explain, to some extent, why I am a Kerry supporter. President Bush seems to have lost sight of the fact that what makes Americans both strong and free is the rule of law; not the rule of the president. Yet this administration has tended to treat both international and constitutional law as a set of polite suggestions to be ignored (at the best of times) and as an impediment to his policy goals (at the worst). From the insistence that the vice president's guest list at secret energy policy meetings could not be probed, to the unilateral decision to suspend the Geneva Conventions for some prisoners, to the (inevitable, at that point) memos from his staff suggesting that nothing is torture unless it leads to organ failure, to the events at Abu Ghraib, which could only have taken place under a president who had loosened the rules on torture, this administration has maintained two staggering legal stances throughout the War on Terror: (i) That it can and should stake out the most radical and extreme legal positions possible (the president's power to detain "enemy combatants" is utterly unchecked and unlimited; U.S. courts have no jurisdiction over anything that happens at Guantanamo Bay); and (ii) that laws are a luxury of peacetime, but by definition a hindrance to any war effort.
There is a vitally important conversation to be had in this country, about balancing security against freedom. That conversation has happened in the courts, in the media, and in the academy. But it has never interested this president at all, who seems to be increasingly of the view that any freedoms—of speech, protest, or due process, make everyone less safe.
Scott Moore, General Manager of the MSN News and Information Division:Kerry
I voted for Bush/Cheney in 2000 because I believed they would implement better economic policies than Gore would have. And frankly, I couldn't stand the thought of being lectured by Professor Gore for four years. As a business person, I judge job performance on the basis of results and I hold people accountable for their commitments. After four years Dick & W, I have just two words for you: "You're fired!"
The administration's record is an utter failure. Its litany of sins include a net loss of U.S. jobs, an anemic business recovery and record oil prices, explosion of the budget deficit, alienated allies in Europe, a disastrous adventure in Iraq entered into on false pretenses without a credible plan for winning the peace, and failure to kill or capture OBL. On top of that we've had to endure the disgraceful spectacles of Bush boasting "mission accomplished" (uh, no); Cheney equating a vote for Kerry with a vote for terror (gee, that's subtle); and a president seemingly unable to acknowledge reality, let alone change policy in the face of setbacks (inflexibility is anathema to leadership).
The extent to which Bush/Cheney has made fear of terror the centerpiece of their re-election campaign is truly pathetic. Great American leaders don't emphasize the negative in the world; they emphasize America's values, its history and its capacity for doing good works at home and abroad. These times demand strong positive leadership. I don't know if John Kerry can provide it, but I'm certain George W. Bush hasn't and won't. In a time of war, I'm ready to give a man who voluntarily and bravely served his country in combat and in the Senate a chance.