Bloggers are human too, whatever doubts you might harbor. Some have been carefully watching the presidential campaign develop before deciding who they're going to hang their chad for. But they're beginning to make up their minds, and what they have to say is good reading.
We'll begin with Greg Djerejian, an American lawyer who writes the thoughtful and usually conservative Belgravia Dispatch from London.
He has a long and interesting post that deconstructs the semingly countless screwups of the Bush administration in Iraq – then explains why he plans to vote for the president anyway. The post is well worth a full read, but here's Djerejian's bottom line:
George Bush, in my view, understands the nature of the evil we are combating. He understands it deep in his gut, to his very core, and this is why I will be voting for him in November. To be sure, I am voting for him with many reservations (of which more below); but I am confident and, indeed, proud of my vote because Bush's intellectual firmament has grasped this essential truth.
I don't believe, in his gut, Kerry believes that we face an existential challenge with regard to the war on terror.
Next we have a couple of respected bloggers who I'd describe as centrists, Daniel Drezner, a University of Chicago prof and international affairs expert, and David Adesnik, who writes at Oxblog.
First, the professor (ignore the math references; he's an economist):
After the debates, I'd say my p-value for Kerry is now at 0.8 (i.e., an 80% chance of voting for Kerry). I'm still uneasy about making this choice, because I remain unconvinced that Kerry understands the limits of multilateral diplomacy.
But here's Drezner's bottom line:
Given the foreign policy stakes in this election, I prefer a leader who has a good decision-making process, even if his foreign policy instincts are skewed in a direction I don't like, over a leader who has a bad decision-making process, even if his foreign policy instincts are skewed in a direction I do like.
Yes, competence does count. Since his original post, Drezner has received a lot of e-mail, and he has a lengthy second post addressing some of the questions raised by readers. It's worth reading as well.
Adesnik's big problem with Kerry is not his perhaps naive belief in the efficacy of multilateral diplomacy,
Rather, it is his total resistance to making about any positive statement about the importance of ensuring a democratic outcome in Iraq. Even though things are not going well on the ground, I believe that a true opportunity for democratization still exists. But that opportunity will amount to nothing in the absence of an all-out American effort to take advantage of it.
Nonetheless, he expects Kerry to attempt to establish a stable, representative government in Iraq:
I believe that Kerry recognizes the danger of withdrawing from Iraq before it is stabilized. And I don't believe that Kerry could accept (let alone achieve) a process of stabilization that isn't democratic.
This doesn't mean that I expect Kerry to consistently make the right decisions about democracy in Iraq. In fact, I fully expect there to be a major struggle within the Democratic Party to define Kerry's agenda should he become President. I will simply do my best to play my small part in that struggle and to persuade as many Democrats as I can that democracy is the answer for Iraq.
Ultimately, I recognize that the arguments made above reflect a considerable degree of speculation about Kerry's motives. Thus, I will not hold it against anyone if they vote for Bush because their subjective assessment of the candidates' motives is different from my own.
There's some chewy reading here.