Former Reagan adviser endorses Kerry

By Mark Follman
Published October 29, 2004 1:12AM (EDT)

The parade of Republicans lining up behind John Kerry keeps growing. The latest to join the ranks is Jude Wanniski, the former adviser to President Reagan who coined the term "supply-side economics."

Throughout his campaign, George Bush has sought to align himself with President Reagan -- today alone he invoked Reagan's name 17 times in speeches in Ohio and Michigan. Bush has asserted that his own tax plan is "the largest tax relief since Ronald Reagan was president." Far more often, the current president has conjured Reagan's legacy in the name of strong foreign policy.

It is on that latter subject where Wanniski and so many other conservatives beg to differ with the president. From Wanniski's endorsement of Kerry yesterday:

"There are a lot of little reasons why I should be voting for the re-election of President Bush, for whom I gladly cast my vote in 2000. The one big reason why I will vote for Senator Kerry next Tuesday is that he is an internationalist, as am I, and Mr. Bush has become an imperialist -- one whose decisions as Commander-in-chief have made the world a more dangerous place. ...

"If there is anything Ive learned about Senator Kerry in this campaign, it is that he believes in hearing out and taking seriously the opinions of the other countries of the world. When he says that if he had been President, we would not have gone to war with Iraq, there is not the slightest doubt in my mind that he is telling the truth. And it would not have been because the U.N. Security Council would not have given him 'a permission slip,' but because the rest of the world could plainly see that the diplomacy of the U.N. was working, that UNMOVIC and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had concluded there were no existing weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and no WMD programs in operation. ...

"By this time, with one revelation after another of the mismanagement of foreign policy and national security under President Bush, Id hoped he would find a way to signal the electorate that things would be different in a second term; that would require a change in personnel at the top. It would have meant Dick Cheneys replacement with a GOP internationalist. It would also have meant a clean sweep of the neo-cons who cooked up the war -- and who misled a President who did not have the experience to be able to figure out he had been manipulated into realizing their imperial fantasies. Sadly, there is no indication a second term would be any different than a first...

"I will cast my first vote for the Democrat in a presidential contest since I pulled the lever for Lyndon Johnson in 1964. And I will do so with enthusiasm for the Senator's views on how to manage the world, having come to appreciate the way his mind works."

Mark Follman

Mark Follman is Salon's deputy news editor. Read his other articles here.

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