During the buildup toward this year’s presidential
election, we hoped that the contentious nature of the contest would
help to educate and enliven America.
Perhaps it was naïve to hope this nation’s leaders would
be honest, or even thorough, brokers of information.
As last week’s Republican National Convention so starkly
demonstrated, issues don’t make for good television, no
matter how important those issues are.
We long for the days when Stephen Douglass and Abraham Lincoln
traveled across America, stopping to lock horns for hours of
soaring debate, to the enlightenment of the thousands who hung upon
There was nothing in President Bush’s acceptance speech
Thursday night indicating that his leadership has any inclination
towards flexibility. Call it steadfast or call it stubborn, we
doubt Bush will ever veer from his “my way or the
highway” attitude concerning issues about which he feels
The President was faced with a challenge. While he spoke glowingly
about spreading freedom abroad, creating an “ownership
society” at home, America and the world are becoming more
chaotic. Terrorists are landing heavy blows to Russian and French
psyches, while Americans everywhere worry about jobs, healthcare
and catastrophic attack.
It seems sourly ironic to us that Bush harped on safety and
security in the city that has proven most vulnerable to attack.
Polls indicate that the majority of New Yorkers felt at greatest
risk because of the convention coming to town.
We understand the importance of putting on an alternately strong
and sunny face, considering all that has gone wrong since
Bush’s inauguration. Herbert Hoover was the last to preside
over more job losses; the occupation of Iraq is a costly mess; a
budget surplus has turned to crippling deficit; the specter of
wealth-sucking inflation grows more ominous every day.
These are serious times, beset by serious problems. Would it show
weakness for the President to concede that not all has gone well,
and that his administration will attempt to learn from its
We look forward to the presidential debates. While Kerry/Bush
won’t hark back to Lincoln/Douglass, maybe both men will be
brought back to this reality: the next four years will not be