I also note Kerry wriggling a little on the "should we -shouldnt we have gone" thing.
Did they really have access to the same intelligence? It seems to me that even with Congress, the President historically has a lot of leeway to say "for reasons we can't disclose, this is a good idea".
It also seems to me that Kerry, in authorizing Bush to go to war, could reasonably have expected Bush to enlist our important allies -- as he did in Afghanistan, and as G.H.W. Bush did in Iraq, etc. The first Gulf war even had massive Arab support.
Kerry might well have thought that Congress must authorize Bush to act, as a necessary show of confidence freeing him up to enter into negotiations with allies -- rather than ignoring them.
One can believe that we needed stiff resolve to face Sadaam, and still be appalled at the way Bush trashed our alliances, seemingly going way out of his way to alienate and antagonize our allies (in rhetoric as much as action) and to strengthen our enemies arguments' that we are interested in absolute domination and empire-building.
I don't know much about Kerry's foreign policy, though, I'll admit. He seems to be leaving it pretty open -- though he certainly seems to be of the "we have to stay and get the job done" school, not the "agh! flee!" school. He's clearly hoping for an "I'm not Bush" dividend whereby France, Germany etc can help out more and save face in the process if he's elected. I have no idea whether that will happen.
I do think, though, that he'll be a lot stronger than Bush on civil liberties, which I think is critical.
It's interesting -- the discussion about logic and reason and so on. Agre's assertion is that politics should be governed by reason -- this is the core of his argument against conservatism.
I'm not so sure. Politics should obviously be *informed* by reason. But in practical cases -- since who knows what a given politician will do, once in office? -- intuition may be just as important.
It's easy to fool yourself with reason. You construct careful arguments, link them logically, amass data. I think Agre is right that no merely access to data, but the willingness to reconsider and reassess, is critical to deomcracy -- and that regarding all facts as mere grist for bolstering an already established message is inimical to it. This is hard to measure, though. We all tend to marshall arguments logically after-the-fact to support what we already feel.
And intuition, as a fundamental human trait, should not be undervalued. In many if not most real-life situations, it's probably more important and useful than reason and intelligence.
I don't trust Bush. There are many overt, identifiable reasons (the Patriot Act, the agressive pursuit of "enemy combatant" status as a loophole from constitutional protections, the WMD thing), but a lot of these are arguable. And really, it's more a thousand subtle hints and associations.
Is there any connection between Bush's aggressive pursuit of the ability to detain captives, his adminstration's arguments that the President has essentially untrammelled powers in wartime that override civil liberties, and the abuses at Abu Ghraib? Maybe not. I can't prove it. Maybe you're willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.
Is there a connection between the unwillingness to wait for our allies to decide to move against Iraq, the doctrine of preemptive force, and the failure to find WMDs? Maybe not. Maybe the WMDs misassessment was purely an innocent mistake.
Is there any connection between Bush's connections to the oil companies, his tax cuts for the wealthy, his lack of support for Kyoto, and the war? Perhaps only a principled one -- he believes in economic growth by resource exploitation and is not to concerned about environmental risk, etc.
But it's the way these things add up emotionally that gives me my personal sense -- a taste -- of who Bush is. It's my hindbrain which tells me not to trust him. Is this wrong? Should I not vote with my hindbrain?
I don't know. This instinctive ferreting out of who to trust is a highly adaptive, critical feature for primates, one with millions of years of evolutionary advantage behind it. Reason is a relative latecomer on the stage.
So what my hindbrain says is... I don't know if I trust Kerry. I know for sure I don't trust Bush.