Springfield State Journal Register

October 30, 2004

Former Republican congressman urges Bush's defeat

Dori Meinert
Copley News Service

WASHINGTON  Paul Findley, a former Republican House member from central Illinois, worked hard to get President George W. Bush elected four years ago.

A champion of human rights for Palestinians, Findley was influential in convincing Muslims, who tend to be Democrats, to vote for Bush.

But not this election.

Findley, 83, of Jacksonville, has hit the speech circuit to seek Bush's defeat.

"I've been very disappointed in him," said Findley, a conservative Republican who served in the House from 1961 to 1983 representing the Springfield area. "He has proved to be a very dangerous leader due to his tendency to use war-making as an instrument of presidential policy."

But Findley's not a big fan of Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., either.

"I'm voting for Kerry as a rebuke to George W., not for any measure of great admiration for the senator," Findley said.

"I have no reason to praise John Kerry, but the record that George W. has established convinces me that we would be in for another rough four years if he is re-elected," Findley said.

Findley said he began publicly criticizing Bush in October 2002 after he read a State Department document outlining the administration's new security policies.

"He very plainly cites the United States as the self-appointed policeman of the world, has promised to maintain bases and budgets to carry out that function. He has declared that as president, he has the right to use acts of war to maintain any security threats that he alone perceives," Findley said. "These are the things that trouble me very greatly."

At that point, Findley decided, "if he proceeded in that quest, that he would get us in very big trouble and would be a dangerous leader for us."

"I don't know how to cast him, but he shows some signs of having a messianic vision, sort of a religious-based vision as if he is destined to bring American-style democracy to the Middle East and that's a dangerous course to take," he said. "It's a dangerous course to take even for a strong alliance of major nations but it's just plain foolish for a single nation to proceed in that course."

Findley lost his House seat in 1983 to now-Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., in part because of his support for Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat, but also because of high unemployment that many blamed on Reagan economics.

Since then, Findley has written three books including "They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel's Lobby," and "Silent No More: Confronting America's False Images of Islam." He also lectures on international affairs to university and Muslim audiences nationwide.