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Thomas Friedman on the Election

I haven't written much about the election last week, except to point out how wrong my prediction was. So much has been written about the election that I'm not sure what I would have to add to it. Besides, as usual, the best columnist in the world, Thomas Friedman, said what I wish I had the cleverness and eloquence to say myself:

[W]hat troubled me yesterday was my feeling that this election was tipped because of an outpouring of support for George Bush by people who don't just favor different policies than I do -- they favor a whole different kind of America. We don't just disagree on what America should be doing; we disagree on what America is.

Is it a country that does not intrude into people's sexual preferences and the marriage unions they want to make? Is it a country that allows a woman to have control over her body? Is it a country where the line between church and state bequeathed to us by our Founding Fathers should be inviolate? Is it a country where religion doesn't trump science? And, most important, is it a country whose president mobilizes its deep moral energies to unite us -- instead of dividing us from one another and from the world? ...

Despite an utterly incompetent war performance in Iraq and a stagnant economy, Mr. Bush held onto the same basic core of states that he won four years ago -- as if nothing had happened. It seemed as if people were not voting on his performance. It seemed as if they were voting for what team they were on...

My problem with the Christian fundamentalists supporting Mr. Bush is not their spiritual energy or the fact that I am of a different faith. It is the way in which he and they have used that religious energy to promote divisions and intolerance at home and abroad...

[T]here is a lot of talk that Mr. Bush has a mandate for his far right policies. Yes, he does have a mandate, but he also has a date - a date with history. If Mr. Bush can salvage the war in Iraq, forge a solution for dealing with our entitlements crisis -- which can be done only with a bipartisan approach and a more sane fiscal policy -- upgrade America's competitiveness, prevent Iran from going nuclear and produce a solution for our energy crunch, history will say that he used his mandate to lead to great effect. If he pushes for still more tax cuts and fails to solve our real problems, his date with history will be a very unpleasant one -- no matter what mandate he has.


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