Originally Posted by Rohirrim
Here's my two cents:
Taking the lives of both candidates into account (up to now) I have to say that Kerry scores about an 90% on my character scale. I'd give Bush about a 35%. I believe that the office of POTUS is so intense that nobody can reliably predict how a person is going to behave once they're in the oval office, but character is, to me, the chief indicator of how someone will respond under pressure.
It seems to me that Bush has lived a life where he was moved from pillow to pillow like some kind of prince. His academic record is mediocre, at best. I haven't seen any examples of him choosing goals and forging out on his own. He went to the schools Poppy and friends set him up in. The way his connections skipped him over a bunch of other Americans into the NG is disgraceful, and whether or not he fulfilled that commitment is still in question. He went into the oil business (the joke in Texas is that Dubya is the only man in history who couldn't find oil in Texas) and got bailed out when Arbutus (Ar"bust"us - as it's known in Texas) tanked. Then Poppy's buddies set him up with the Texas Rangers, followed by the Texas state house (the most powerless state exec post in the country). But, Bush gave up the booze. That showed some character.
In his first term, IMO, he has been a puppet. 100 of the offices he filled, from the EPA to the FDA, he filled with former corporate lobbyists who previously lobbied (usually against the policies of) those same agencies. His economic policies are heavily tilted toward the super wealthy and multi-nationals. His political philosophy is far right of the mainstream. The injection of his religious beliefs into the political arena is a dangerous precedent to set. And yet, his history tells me that he is, even now, not the man calling the shots. Whatever, this whole Iraq scenario has been a mess - really lousy management at all levels. America is not safer, no matter how many times Bush says it. In fact, just the opposite is true. Plus, I hate deficits - and we now have the biggest one in history - and growing.
Kerry was the son of a diplomat. He grew up all over the world. One thing I read is that he used to ride his bicycle through post-war Berlin, still in ruins. He saw first hand the fruits of war. He was a hockey player in high school and loves athletic competition. He went to Yale and did very well. When the Deputy Secretary of Defense came and asked the seniors at Yale to sign up for Vietnam because their economic class was not being represented, Kerry signed up. Many right wingers like to portray his service on river boats as if it took place on the backlot of some Hollywood studio - as if the bullets weren't real, or as if it was some nefarious scheme of Kerry's to enhance his political career. That's how low the political dialogue has sunk. Kerry returned with 3 Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star and a Silver Star. Disillusioned with the war, he asked for, and was given his discharge. He became a "star" in the anti-war movement, though he does admit that his "youthful exuberance" led him to make claims he is no longer proud of - like the war criminal claims. I accept the apology. Others don't. When the Vietnam Veterans Against the War became too radical, Kerry decided the best way to fight for better government was to join it. He quit the organization and entered law school. He graduated and served as a prosecutor in Boston - very successfully.
Once in the Senate, he bacame what's known as an "investigative" rather than a "legislative" senator. He was a key investigator in the BCCI case and Iran Contra. His investigation led to an old Democratic stalwart, Clarke Clifford, coming under the cloud of BCCI. Ted Kennedy and others hinted that Kerry should lay off. He didn't, and Clifford's career was ruined.
Between the two men's characters, I see no comparison. IMO, Bush has pretty much partied through life on a free ride ticket. Kerry has set goals, pursued them, and achieved them. He has had important mentors, yes, but he has done the work. Kerry has set himself against adversity, even combat, and succeeded. Bush seems to have avoided adversity at every turn.
Also, Kerry has come in contact with every strata of American life, from the top economic classes to the bottom. He spent much time abroad, learned and speaks numerous languages, and had to work to pay his own way. His family was upper class, but at the prep school his diplomat father got him into, Kerry was considered at the bottom of the economic scale - and was discriminated against because of it. Bush has spent his life looking through the windows of a limousine. The only people of other classes that he has come into contact with have been the "help."
Anyway, this is my take on the histories, educations and characters of the two men. Their politics would be a whole other post.