Jewish World Review Oct. 15, 2004 / 30 Tishrei, 5765

Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
MUGGER
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

One answer not given

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | America tuned in to a riveting encounter last night. It was a gripping duel between men of extraordinary skill, discipline, and focus — an event well worth the time required to watch it.


But you don't need me to tell you about the Red Sox-Yankees game. So let's talk about the Bush-Kerry debate instead.


As these debates have gone, it wasn't awful. Kerry was a bit less sharp than in the first two engagements, Bush turned in his most confident performance yet, but both men held their own. Some of the debate was interesting; some was even charming. For the sheer good feeling they inspired, the president's humble and loving words about his wife could hardly have been improved on; Kerry's self-deprecating joke about marrying up ("me more than others . . . but I can take it") was actually quite funny. Alas, those were their answers to the very last question — you had to suffer through a lot of spinach before finally getting to enjoy that bit of dessert.


And what a lot of spinach there was. Call me a cranky libertarian conservative, but just once I would like to hear a candidate for president answer a question by saying, "Sorry, the Constitution limits the role of the federal government — the issue you're asking about is one for the states or the private sector, not Washington."


But there was no talk of limited government last night. Instead there was talk of: firehouses not having enough firefighters, a shortage of flu vaccine, the rise in health insurance premiums, how laid-off workers should attend community college, the need for more grade-school math and science, the high price of gasoline and medicine, a minimum wage for unskilled workers, education for parents who don't speak English — and those are just the ones I managed to scribble down. There was even a mention of ceiling fans from China. Where does the Constitution that whoever wins this election will take an oath to preserve, protect, and defend say that any of these are properly the concern of the federal government?

Donate to JWR


Perhaps the most interesting thing about last night's debate was the open and unabashed talk, especially by Bush, of religion and prayer. It was interesting not because it was unusual, but precisely because it isn't. Unlike their counterparts in Europe, political leaders in America speak often of G-d and the influence of their faith. It is one of the things that most distinguishes American culture and politics — and I use "distinguishes" in both of its senses.


Still, I do wish Kerry would explain sometime why it is OK for his faith to shape his stands on social-welfare programs and the environment, when he vows to never let his stands on abortion and embryonic stem cells be shaped by that same faith. Just another Kerry contradiction, I suppose.


No more debates, and almost no more campaign. Election Day is in sight at last. Hallelujah!

Like this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.


Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.

Jeff Jacoby Archives

© 2002, Boston Globe