Debate catches reader by surprise

Letter to the Editor.

  • Friday, October 3, 2008 3:22am
  • Opinion

The presidential debate last week took me by surprise. In my 25 years as an eligible voter, I don’t think I have seen a more striking debate. I was struck by two elements in particular. The first was how substantive the debate was. The second was the extent of contrast between the candidates, which resulted in a clear and challenging choice for Americans.

Sen. Kerry took center stage as an experienced, committed and well-informed potential leader in the world. I credit the senator for introducing and managing the depth, clarity and complexity of international affairs. He introduced information I had not yet heard: that Afghani warlords, not American troops, were deployed to hunt Osama Bin Laden; and that a substantial portion of our resources sent to find Osama Bin Laden were removed from Asia to fight in Iraq. He persuasively argued the centrality of nonproliferation in our quest for a safer world, and was not afraid to demonstrate his knowledge of the complexity of strategic discussions on North Korea.

President Bush is valued for his emotional and simple style and I concur with the value placed on this. In my own life I attempt to be straightforward and look deeply at the basic quality of human life, one that is moral, conscientious and working hard to be our best, to stand up for what we think is right and to ensure that our conscience is not deterred by competing values and ideas.

The debate last night made my choice clear. I will cast my vote for Kerry. My decision rests in something I didn’t fully understand until the debate was over. I am traditional in my choice of presidents.

I place emphasis on the now fading concept of the “statesman,” a leader who understands politics to be one of finesse, who has a compelling influence and commitment to democratic morality. A statesman succeeds in this through his knowledge, intellect, wisdom and steady composure.

These qualities, I believe, have always been the most successful in moving a nation forward with the best it has to offer. Successful because as the nation moves, the leadership has the foresight to manage other countries and forces that might inhibit or react to that progress.

Central to my concept of the “statesman” is intellect. I have been increasingly concerned over the past five-10 years at the decline in respect for the “intellectual.” Perhaps I define this differently than others. First I equate intellect with education, and I place a high value on education.

Second, I equate intellectual with a flexible mind that can employ imagination and knowledge to reach beyond one’s own experience and weigh a wide variety of perspectives while holding fast to one’s own morality.

These are the things I think a president must be good at if he is to lead a country as diverse as ours in a world as diverse as the one we live in.

I am traditional in politics and I cast my vote for Sen. Kerry.

Lee Grumman

Carnation



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