The Fear Factor

A few days ago I walked into Nick Bowen’s ’06 room and found him having a political discussion with Anthony Reyes ’05. The two were talking about the different campaign methods of Democrats and Republicans in elections. Reyes characterized the Republicans’ tactics as “fear politics.” He pointed out that Republicans claim that Kerry is “soft” on terror and if elected, a terrorist attack would ensue. This was not the first time I have heard the accusation that Republicans are using “scare tactics.” I first heard the term when I broke down and paid $8.50 to see Fahrenheit 9/11. Filmmaker Michael Moore told audiences nationwide that the Bush Administration, from the war in Iraq to the color-coded terror levels, uses fear to mesmerize the American people so that it can further advance its political agenda without much turbulence. Since that tragic day in July, I have regularly heard the term used by liberals to describe Bush’s campaign. The notion that Bush is “scaring” people into voting for him is a complete sham – especially considering the hypocrisy the Democratic Party has shown in dealing with this matter. On Monday, Senator Edward Kennedy slammed Bush on Iraq’s progress. In a speech at George Washington University, Kennedy listed 13 reasons why Bush has not made the United States safer from the threat of terrorists. He demoralized soldiers by claiming, “US soldiers are in a quagmire with no end in sight.” But this was not the boldest of his statements. He also warned of a nuclear attack, stating, “The war in Iraq has made the mushroom cloud more likely, not less likely.” About Bush’s potential handling of nuclear war situations, he added, “It was a good thing Bush was not in charge during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962.” He made not only disquieting statements about our country’s servicemen, but he also claimed that having Bush in the White House only increases the chances of a nuclear attack. If this is not a “scare tactic,” I do not know what is. Last weekend, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered a response to Bush’s weekly radio address. After accusing members of Bush’s cabinet of trying to “instill fear into Americans,” Pelosi made a transparently two-faced comment. Pelosi accused the administration of failing to make America safer, and in the same breath, added that “Republicans should remember that the reason Osama bin Laden is still able to threaten the United States, three years after the September 11th attacks, is the utter failure of the Bush Administration to catch bin Laden and to destroy his terrorist network.” She also suggested that America would be much safer today if President Bush had kept his focus on Al Qaeda. Pelosi’s ridiculous comments that the President is not “focused” on Al Qaeda and that he failed at destroying bin Laden’s network of terror are attempts to frighten voters into believing that bin Laden and Al Qaeda are not being hunted. Just the thought that any House member believes such rhetoric is appalling. To make her own “scare tactics” more clear, she finished by claiming that for our “safety and prosperity,” we need John Kerry and a Democratic Congress. For the most part, those who accuse Bush of using fear as a tool have little substance to their arguments. For example, the most prominent accusation of fear tactics came recently when Vice President Dick Cheney was speaking in Iowa City. Democrats accused Cheney of saying that if John Kerry were to be elected in November, there would be a major terrorist attack on the United States. The Associated Press ran a story that opened, “Vice President Dick Cheney on Tuesday warned Americans about voting for Sen. John Kerry, saying that if the nation makes the wrong choice on Election Day it faces the threat of another terrorist attack.” If Cheney did in fact say this, it would be a clear scare tactic. But he did not. What papers like the AP do not want the reader to know is that it cut out the other half of Cheney’s sentence. Cheney’s full quote argues that if Kerry were elected, the next terrorist attack will be viewed according to a pre-9/11 mindset, and will consequently be treated as a criminal act rather than an act of war. Cheney’s actual statement clearly is not implying the meaning the Dems tried to give it. The realities that face us in this post-9/11 world are scary. Though liberals allege that the Republicans use this to their advantage, it is the Democrats that have once again have exposed their own hypocrisy. Not only is it they who have taken quotes and events out of context to create the fallacy that Bush uses fear as a tool, but also it is they who have yet to adhere to their own rhetoric.