September 05, 2004

Kerry Urged to Dodge Foreign Policy (Updated)

Anyone who wins a primary election deserves serious consideration for the presidency, even if they don’t get my vote in the end. The “hawkish case for John Kerry” will not be easy to write, but I feel I owe it to him all the same. He may or may not deserve my vote, but he does deserve a little mental effort and attention.

I’m in the middle of compiling my list of points for that argument. It isn’t easy, especially since the Kerry campaign can’t even convince itself.

Here’s the New York Times:

President Bush roared out of his New York convention last week, leaving many Democrats nervous about the state of the presidential race and pressing Senator John Kerry to torque up what they described as a wandering and low-energy campaign.

In interviews, leading Democrats - governors, senators, fund-raisers and veteran strategists - said they had urged Mr. Kerry's campaign aides to concentrate almost exclusively on challenging President Bush on domestic issues from here on out, saying he had spent too much of the summer on national security, Mr. Bush's strongest turf. [Emphasis added.]

I have no idea, really, why the Democrats did not see this coming. There were some liberal hawks on the primary ticket that could have neutralized this from the get-go.

I didn’t vote for George W. Bush in 2000. It’s been a royal pain to defend this president from his worst critics while my heart hasn’t been in it. And it’s going to be just as difficult to “carry water” for John Kerry when his own staff and his own self can’t even cobble together an argument to convince defense hawks that he’s a safe bet. I really don’t think a Kerry presidency would be as disastrous as many Republicans are saying. He is no Dennis Kucinich. Still, no one would ever photoshop something like this to make fun of Joe Lieberman.

kerry_on_tank.jpg

Image via Fark.


UPDATE: Some people in the comments take issue with the picture above because when John Kerry said he would fight a more "sensitive" war he did not mean he would be more sensitive to our enemies. Rather, he meant he would be more "sensitive" to Europeans. True enough, but "sensitive war" is an asinine thing to say in any context. War is a horror by nature, and the only things less sensitive are totalitarian oppression and genocide.

Besides, as "Bill" pointed out in the comments, Kerry has already referred to the Iraq coalition as "fraudulent." That was not a very "sensitive" thing to say about Britain and Tony Blair, not to mention everybody else who is an actual rather than a would-be ally of the United States.

Only in a child's fantasy universe did France oppose regime-change in Iraq because Bush was insufficiently "sensitive." If John Kerry actually believes he can get Jacques Chirac into the American orbit by being "sensitive" he doesn't know the first thing about French foreign policy since Charles de Gaulle. He'll learn if he is elected, but the political education of John Kerry is still somewhere off in the future.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at September 5, 2004 01:18 PM
Comments

That must be what they call a "nuanced" tank.

Posted by: David at September 5, 2004 01:21 PM
It’s been a royal pain to defend this president from his worst critics while my heart hasn’t been in it. And it’s going to be just as difficult to “carry water” for John Kerry when his own staff and his own self can’t even cobble together an argument to convince defense hawks that he’s a safe bet.

I sympathize, Michael, but look at it this way: When it comes down for it, it's not our job to carry water for any candidate (unless they pay us in dollars or election day booze). It's their job to convince us to vote for them -- by writing their own liberal/radical-centrist/conservative arguments for their respective candidate.

(Cute tank though.)

Posted by: Bill at September 5, 2004 01:38 PM

MT,

There absolutely is a hawkish case to be made for Kerry. It'd include the following (not in order)

1. Hawkish Congress pressures Kerry constantly
2. Pentagon would be listened to closely (so as to avoid wimp charges)
3. Kerry more likely to obtain help from France and Germany
4. American people would not tolerate a cut and run from Iraq

There are many outside factors that innoculate us from Kerry's dovish instincts.

I don't think it is a winning case, but I look forward to your essay.

Posted by: spc67 at September 5, 2004 01:43 PM

Only the most shameless panderer would have crafted a phrase using the words 'sensitive' and 'war' in the same sentence; obviously trying to make both peaceniks and hawks happy at the same time. That's called waffling. Too bad it failed miserably. People who don't believe in their own words are often forced to swallow those words. Such a man is Kerry.

The same man who voted to give Bush the power to wage war in Iraq, but then feigns surprise that Bush would wield that power. The same man who votes for something just before he votes against it. That's called flip-flopping.

Bush makes a good point. He'll debate Kerry when Kerry is done debating himself.

Posted by: David at September 5, 2004 01:57 PM

Exactly who are all these Democratic heavyweights who urged Kerry to focus on domestic issues? This sounds like people who smell fiasco and are trying to distance themselves by laying down an "if he'd only listened to my wise counsel" defense, self preservation being that most exigent of urges. Of course, this is from the NYT and I've heard it remarked recently that the difference between the Times and the AutoTrader is that you get accurate, unbiased info from the latter.

Posted by: Zacek at September 5, 2004 02:03 PM

Shoulda seen it coming? I wish I had had the foresight (and wit) to post This on July 29, 2004.

As far as I can see it is going to be massive: a Tsunami of rejection; a battering of the Bozos with no ref to stop the fight in the sixth round; a comet impacting dead center in the Democratic Fantasy World and smothering all but the deepest burrowing small rodents in a layer of ash half a mile thick; ...

Posted by: jdwill at September 5, 2004 02:51 PM

Jdwill,

That may be a bit much.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 5, 2004 02:56 PM

Maybe Kerry can fix things up with his French buddies and save himself...

"The French hoped that the bulk of the documents would be exposed as false, since many of them obviously were," an Italian official said.

"Their aim was to make the allies look ridiculous in order to undermine their case for war."

According to an account given to The Sunday Telegraph, France was driven by "a cold desire to protect their privileged, dominant trading relationship with Saddam, which in the case of war would have been at risk".

Posted by: jdwill at September 5, 2004 02:58 PM

Michael,

I know. I will never have that much foresight and wit.

Posted by: jdwill at September 5, 2004 03:03 PM

The tank pic is funny and sad at the same time. I am a Libertarian / Republican by default, but I want a healthy 2-party system. But if Kerry's game plan is now to change the subject to domestic issues, then we can only assume he has in effect conceded that he cannot beat Bush on the defense / foreign policy / terrorism issue. That in itself may be fatal.

But I see another problem for Kerry in shifting to domestic issues. One of my favorite Democrats, the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan said about 20 years ago that "the Republican Party is now the party of ideas." That statement was and still is true.

Here is just one example. We have a major problem on the horizon with entitlement programs - specifically Social Security and Medicare - which cry out for reform. It is tough for either party to tackle these issues, which is why they have not been addressed. But at least the Republicans are offering innovative ideas. We simply cannot tax our way out of these problems, due to demographic trends ( aging population ), and even if we tried it, the added tax burden would retard economic growth, which would hurt everyone, primarily the "poor". But the Democrats will not advocate private Social Security accounts, or health savings accounts, because to do so would alienate the base of their party. If the Democrats were smart, they would go after the young and middle age voters and advocate private Social Security accounts. But Dems will not do this because the base of the party loves big government, forced wealth redistrubution, and social engineering.

The only alternative to private accounts for Social Security is either means testing ( which will effectively make it a welfare program, thereby diminishing the broad-based support it must have ), OR, higher taxes AND reduced benefits. Those of you who want that, please raise your hand.

As I see it, the Dems have trapped themselves. The reforms which need to be made in government ( I would argue they ultimately MUST be made ) are the very things which would also alienate the Democrat Party base ( bureaucrats, unions, etc ).

Democrats have become the party of the old guard, and they are defending old paradigms which are increasingly indefensible, as I see it. Republicans are the reformers, at least in the realm of ideas, on both domestic and international issues. Bush wants to realign our troops overseas to make the military more flexible for the new threats of the future. Bush wants to make real reforms entitlements that empower individuals but also maintain the safety net. Bush wants to bring the Middle East into the globalized, networked world.

And what does Kerry want to do ? Defer to the UN on terrorism, raise taxes on the "rich", ignore entitlement reform, demonize trade and "outsourcing" ( which will keep the developing world poor ), and keep troops in Germany where they are not needed ?

Republicans seem to care more about ideas, specifically policies which empower individuals, which is thoroughly American. Democrats seem to care more about power, probably because they have no ideas.

Posted by: freeguy at September 5, 2004 03:44 PM

Michael,
You disappoint. The partisans would have photoshopped something equally inane against Liberman. They have no shame. The reason this resonates is purely a function of the fact that the Republicans, especially Cheney has repeatedly used the "sensitive" comment in a thoroughly dishonest manner.

If you heard the speech, it is obvious that Kerry spoke of being more sensitive to the concerns of our allies as we go about building coalitions. Cheney pretends (I think "lies" is perfectly appropriate) that this somehow was directed towards the enemy. And so it becomes a joke line.

You will never, of course, see the morally self-righteous republicans back away from such dishonesty for one very good reason. It works.

Posted by: Tano at September 5, 2004 04:10 PM

I hope the person who photoshopped that image is not questioning Kerry's patriotism.
I heard from some obscure source that he fought in Vietnam, but he seems too modest to make some sort of issue of it.

Posted by: dougf at September 5, 2004 04:22 PM

Tano: It works.

It works because it's against John Kerry. It sticks to him because his foreign policy talk is utterly spineless. It would never work against someone like Joe Lieberman or John McCain. If you were more hawkish yourself you would understand. But you aren't so you don't.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 5, 2004 04:30 PM

MJT,

The photo is pretty funny, but it also exemplifies just how bizarre are the attacks on Kerry.

Cheney keeps saying how Al Qaeda won't be impressed by our sensitivity.

"A 'sensitive war' will not destroy the evil men who killed 3,000 Americans," he said. "The men who beheaded Daniel Pearl and Paul Johnson will not be impressed by our sensitivity."

This statement should make Republicans embarrassed, not make them cheer.

Here's what Kerry actuallysaid: "I believe I can fight a more effective, more thoughtful, more strategic, more proactive, more sensitive war on terror that reaches out to other nations and brings them to our side and lives up to American values in history."

Maybe he can, maybe he can't, there is
nothing even remotely wrong with what he said.

Can anyone honestly argue that Cheney hasn't twisted Kerry's words beyond all recognition? Cheney's line is a disgusting smear, a repulsive use of innocents' deaths for cheap political gain.

Posted by: Oberon at September 5, 2004 04:38 PM
If you heard the speech, it is obvious that Kerry spoke of being more sensitive to the concerns of our allies as we go about building coalitions.

Indeed. You have an excellent point: Kerry has shown great insensitivity towards our allies, such as Britain, Austrailia and the lot by smearing them as a "fraudunent coalition".

And let's not mince words. "Sensitive" is a code word for not dissing the French (who have acted in bad faith to the US and UK in the UNSC at the start of the Iraq liberation, act unilaterally in the EU and in their African former colonies, have been very insensitive indeed to old Europe on their support of the US and UK. Then there was the Franco-Chineese manuevers off Taiwan...), the Russians (who are not sensitive in their own "confilct resolutions") and the UN (which as Bernard Lewis said, channeling Mr Spock, effectively exists to prolong crises). The Cowboy Bush and Tranzi Blair have indeed been sensitive, but honest in that once they saw that
the international community (defined universally as France, China, Russia and the UN) were not being honest, they made their own club.

Even when viewed in context or generically, the "sensitive" meme is off like a week old omlette. Foreign policy by its nature will anger someone, somewhere, no matter what you do and don't do.

And should Kerry get the White House, he will find that out the hard way. People to whom we must be sensitive will always have a reason to hate our policy, as it will simulaneously be too early, too late, too much, too little, not enough there, too much there and not in Tibet or East Timor, and doing somehting about Tibet and East Timor is just doing it to get on the good side of the world, when everyone knows it's the font of all evil - except for when they're talking about Israel.

A sensitive foreign policy would degrade into a spinning plate act in the global circus.

Posted by: Bill at September 5, 2004 04:47 PM

I dont find Kerry's position on the war against jihadists to be spineless in the least. I dont know what makes you come to that conclusion.

On the Iraq war, he has not been spineless either. As we know, he has a 'nuanced' position - one that is shared by many of the serious people who deal with matters of war and peace, including many Republicans.

I will certainly agree with anyone who asserts that he has not been a stellar communicator of those nuances. So I am pissed that he does not have the rhetorical skills of a Reagan or a Clinton. But those of us capable and willing to explore the issues in depth (e.g. actually read entire speeches rather than glom onto second hand sound bites about them) have no problem understanding his positions.

Posted by: Tano at September 5, 2004 04:50 PM

It works because it's against John Kerry. It sticks to him because his foreign policy talk is utterly spineless.

Michael, I cannot believe you just wrote that. Cheney is completely twisting Kerry's words, but you find the fault is Kerry's?

There's is absolutely nothing Kerry has said even remotely close to the idea that Kerry wants to be more sensitive to Daniel Pearl's murderers.

Cheney and Bush have used the word "sensitive" themselves, in basically the same context. If they have to sink so low, if they have to twist Kerry's words so badly, it ought to make you wonder why.

Posted by: Oberon at September 5, 2004 04:59 PM

Bill,
Lets take one issue at a time. In response to my assertion as to what Kerry really said, you say - "excellent point". Now I kinda feel that the next thing you should say, to make the conversaton coherent, would be "therefore I agree with you that Cheney has been a disgusting liar in this incident" and "therefor I could never vote for him" (ok, that last part was a little joke).
Then we could move on to consider your argument. But if you cant do that, I sorta am left with the feeling that you are just one of those self-righteous republicans who would never take a stand for the truth, if it seems to work for you. And that doesnt make me feel inspired to even read what you have to say, let alone think about it.
But actually, now that I made my little speech, the truth is I did read what you wrote. And I disagree completely. Being sensitive to the interests and concerns of your friends and allies while you are trying to convince them to join you in a difficult mission, well that is diplomacy 101. You can mock and ridicule that, but that would just be pseudo-macho stuff. No diplomacy between states ever succeeds unless both sides consider and are "senisitive" to the positions of the other.

Posted by: Tano at September 5, 2004 05:02 PM

It works because it's against John Kerry. It sticks to him because his foreign policy talk is utterly spineless. It would never work against someone like Joe Lieberman or John McCain. If you were more hawkish yourself you would understand. But you aren't so you dont.

Utter drivel, based on a fundamental misunderstanding about how the game operates. No matter who was the Democratic candidate, similar garbage photoshop images would be created. The writing on the tank is complete nonsense and does not relate to anything John Kerry has said.

Totten indulges in his usual fantasies about Lieberman and McCain, as if simply changing the candidate to someone even further to the right will stop Republican games. Utter nonsense.

Even McCain and his wife was subjected to the full force of Bushmen lies and propaganda when he dared to challenge Bush for the Presidential nomination.

Posted by: Benjamin at September 5, 2004 05:03 PM

Quoth Tano:

As we know, he has a 'nuanced' position - one that is shared by many of the serious people who deal with matters of war and peace, including many Republicans.

and

I will certainly agree with anyone who asserts that he has not been a stellar communicator of those nuances.

That even advocates of this "Nuanced" Foreign Policy have enough frustration to use quotes when addressing it, shows that there is something squishy about the term. I sympathize with Tano with that but there's a point to ask if there's any there there.

His policy is to be "Subtly Different in Tone and Color," to use one definition, but he bashes the Bush, Neocons and Blairite Tranzis left and right on their policy as if it's off by a lightyear from his vision.

Methinks "Nuance" here is just a snobbish and mis-named pointer to "sensitive"... which as I indicated earlier isn't going to be as effective as they'd like us to hope.

Posted by: Bill at September 5, 2004 05:08 PM

There were some liberal hawks on the primary ticket that could have neutralized this from the get-go.

That's fantasy too. The irony is Kerry was chosen because he was seen as nuetralising the security issue. Predictably it hasn't worked. Desperately the Democrats tried to outdo the Republicans on the security and "patriotism" at their convention, but ended up simply setting thmselves up. Hopeless strategy.

Posted by: Benjamin at September 5, 2004 05:16 PM

Tano:

In your own self righteous screed

Being sensitive to the interests and concerns of your friends and allies while you are trying to convince them to join you in a difficult mission, well that is diplomacy 101.

Which is exactly what they tried to do. France was not going to support anything that would end the gravy train as they all later found out. They only went for the just-for-show resolutions. When it was time to walk-the-talk... well we were reminded of the first principles of Diplomacy 101 -- you don't really have "allies" just "interests." The second (courtesy of Menchen?) is that Diplomacy is the art of saying "Nice Doggie" while looking for a nice rock and the US and UK and the rest didn't do too shabby a job there.

As for the rest of your response. Just grow up -- or at least learn to take criticism better.

Posted by: Bill at September 5, 2004 05:26 PM

Benjamin: The irony is Kerry was chosen because he was seen as nuetralising the security issue.

Horrible choice, Benjamin. I agree with Kerry's position on damn near everything except foreign policy. I'm not manufacturing my problems with him on this point in order to score points for the Bush Administration. I'm sure the Republicans would play some kind of dirty trick with Joe Lieberman if he were the Democratic candidate, but it would not work with me at all. It sticks to Kerry because he keeps saying idiotic crap like "sensitive war."

I don't care what context he said that in, it's just plain stupid. Bill (above) already pointed out how Kerry has been "insensitive" to our European allies. Beside, only in a child's fantasy universe did France oppose regime-change in Iraq because Bush was insufficiently "sensitive." If John Kerry actually believes he can get Jacques Chirac into the American orbit by being "sensitive" he doesn't know the first thing about French foreign policy since Charles de Gaulle.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 5, 2004 05:34 PM

Oberon,

Your are right about Cheney twisting the sensitive remark. Its political hardball out there. Both sides are doing it to to detriment of us all. However, to judge Kerry fairly on his sensitivity that will reach out to allies, he loses on 2 counts.

1. Sneering at the coalition Bush built has dissed Britain, Australia, and Poland who are real allies.

2. The French who Kerry is highly associated with, are NOT an ally.

Posted by: jdwill at September 5, 2004 06:08 PM

MJ babe, that wasn't the Update I was hoping for.

Here's the full Kerry quote:

KERRY (8/6/04): The first part [of the campaign book] focuses on security. I will fight this war on terror with the lessons I learned in war. I defended this country as a young man, and I will defend it as president of the United States. I believe I can fight a more effective, more thoughtful, more strategic, more proactive, more sensitive war on terror that reaches out to other nations and brings them to our side and lives up to American values in history. I lay out a strategy to strengthen our military, to build and lead strong alliances and reform our intelligence system. I set out a path to win the peace in Iraq and to get the terrorists wherever they may be before they get us.

What is wrong with that? You may not believe it, okay, but clearly Kerry is not concerned about being sensitive to Daniel Pearl's murderers.

And if the word "sensitive" is so horrible, how about this interview a few days after Kerry's line:

CHENEY: Well, from the standpoint of the [Imam Ali] shrine, obviously it is a sensitive area, and we are very much aware of its sensitivity. (Hugh Hewitt interview)

Or this:

"Now, in terms of the balance between running down intelligence and bringing people to justice obviously is -- we need to be very sensitive on that." (Bush Delivers Remarks at the Unity, Journalists of Color Conference, 8/6/04)

Does it bother you that the Vice-President is deliberately and blatantly misleading people?

Posted by: Oberon at September 5, 2004 06:10 PM

Michael,
Its not just France. And it certainly isnt just Chirac. Probably 80% of the population of the world, and of Europe was opposed to the war. It doesnt take recourse to explanations of historical trends in Euro dipomacy to understand why politicians, in democracies, were often unwilling to buck their populations to side with Bush, especially when they had very sincere misgivings about the enterprise in the first place.
If you march onto the world stage with the intention of building a coalition, and you start off by saying - your either with us or agin us - or,- fall in line, this is your last hope of being relevant - then the normal human reaction is "hey, screw you bud". There is no other word for that than stupidity.
The US is a super, super power. Uncontested. We can sit here and feel secure in our own goodness and sincerity, but guess what. Other people in other countries have witnessed 6000 years of human history, and have learned to rely on a very deep seated skepticism of powerful nations. Maybe it is unfair to us. But that is the reality. You stand in front of them and come off like an aggressive bully, and they are going to recoil - whether that assessment is true or not.
You need to learn how to speak to people, to inspire them. You will never get everyone aboard, obviously, but you can fill the consciousness of the developed world with inspiring ideas, and you will win people over to your side. Then their democratically elected leaders will have more room to extend themselves for you.
None of this is particularly new stuff. Reagan was able to do it, as was Clinton. It comes down to simply being able to talk to people, to persuade, rather than to assume that everyone instantly recognizes your moral superiority and will fall in line.
In a word - to be more sensitive to the perspectives of those you want at your side.

Posted by: Tano at September 5, 2004 06:25 PM

Tano makes a good point about Reagan -- one of his great gifts as a leader is that he did what he thought was best for America, but convinced other leaders he was also doing what was best for the free world.

Posted by: Oberon at September 5, 2004 06:27 PM

Oberon,

"Sensitive area" is not analogous in silliness to "sensitive war." The shrine actually is a sensitive area. And "sensitive war" is almost as ridiculous a phrase as "moderate totalitarianism." I can't believe the phrase sprang from Kerry's mind at all in any context. And I can't believe his handlers let him say it. I really think they are clueless about this stuff.

I don't doubt that my update wasn't the one you were looking for. That's because we don't agree on this. We agree about some things, but not this thing. I knew all along the context of Kerry's statement and assumed everyone else did too. And I still think it's absurd on multiple levels and he's asking to be ridiculed for it.

If Kerry weren't so nervewrackingly weak on foreign policy generally I would not have brought this up. Instead I would put a "Kerry/Edwards 2004" logo on my Web site. And I would also expect him to win this election. Look at the Time Magazine poll I posted a few days ago. Kerry gets clobbered on foreign policy. He is competitive with Bush or ahead of him on everything else.

Maybe you can make a case that the Karl Rove spin machine is deluding swing voters. But I never would have become a swing voter in the first place if the Democrats put up a strong defense candidate.

John Kerry has only himself to blame for this, and the Democrats have only themselves to blame for picking John Kerry.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 5, 2004 06:28 PM

Tano,

If you think Bush's rhetoric is unpersuasive and uninspiring I agree - sometimes. Tony Blair is much better at this. But it didn't help much.

Besides, Bush's "freedom" speeches, stirring as they are, are ridiculed in Europe for being "unsophisticated" and "reckless."

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 5, 2004 06:34 PM

I continue to beg to differ with you about this. The GOP would have been prepared to ruthlessly trash whoEVER the Democrats nominated. You think no one would photoshop Lieberman, widely derided by Republicans as "Loserman" in '00? You remember that, don't you?

Had Wesley Clark won the nomination, we would be hearing the "unstable," "crazy," "nearly-started-a-war-with-Russia" stuff 'til the first Tuesday in November.

Honest to God, I'm not that crazy about Kerry either (I didn't vote for him in the primaries) but I just flat disagree that anyone the Dems nominated would be immune from the kind of derision and mockery the GOP has been heaping on Kerry.

Posted by: kc at September 5, 2004 06:37 PM

Well, this is going nowhere. I dont know what more to say. Michael admits that he knew the context all along, but still blames Kerry for saying it. And publicizes the photo. Sure - it was stupid - given the common knowledge of how the Bushies run campaigns, the Kerry campaign should have hired a mercenary right-wing sleaze artist to go through all their speeches and point out how the words could be distorted.

In proper context, the words make perfect sense. To me, that is what matters.

And I do prefer a slightly inarticulate thinker, who has nuanced positions, to a liar. Just imagine - if other things that Cheney say are equally dishonest - gee,,,I wonder what I can trust about anything he says!

Posted by: Tano at September 5, 2004 06:38 PM

Oberon:

You correctly point out that we indeed have a "sensitive" FP now. Otherwise a certain Iraqi rogue cleric would be finding out that God is a Jewish Mother and has picked out 72 very nice girls for him (having been bombed out of his historical religous site). Unfortunately there is still the blank-out over the "rush" to war in Iraq and all the dimplomacy that occured to no avail from states that had no serious interest in toppling Saddam.

Just how Kerry is going to be more "sensitive" than the current lot while being as effective or more so is something I have yet to see in Kerry's messages and lit.

Bush and Blair (from most accounts it was Blair) did their best shot talking to a wall. It didn't work, they went around it. The wall complained. And that is the breakdown of US foreign policy in Kerry's eyes. Blocks in western europe likewise complained but much of it was generic Anti-Americanism which won't disappear with Kerry as soon as he makes a hard decision in the US's interest - as he no doubt will try to do). Let's then fast forward to the next crisis under a Kerry presidency using the Serbia/Kosovo model of the Clinton/Albright approach as the template. (And Kosovo continues to be a stresser in the Balkans.) I just don't see how changing the US leadership to Kerry and "mending" the fence Bush/Blair broke is going to change things when their grand faux pas was not to break a fence but to walk around a stone wall. To-be-sure in the future, we may get more traction with Russia. But that may have more to do with their Chechen flareup than with any thing in DC.

The rest is going to be International/Junior-High politics as usual, regardless of "nuance" in sensitivity. Color me cynical I guess. The US is the only superpower (indeed a hyperpower), aka a"poor little rich kid" who could buy the marching band new uniforms with its allowance, or fund the library or hire a contract on (or just buy off) that ninth-grade bully beating up the little kids (or he could just run him over in the Rolls but that would be overly aggressive). Hence, the less scrupulous parts of the international community will continue to recognize the US to be the only power to be able to do anything of major consequence but will always face some sort of criticism because it will not be to their precise liking - because it's the US's power, not theirs. And that is just the way it is. Kerry could be a foreign policy master, and little would change on some corners of Europe and the UN.

Posted by: Bill at September 5, 2004 06:38 PM

Tano, I salute you. You always say what I want to say but I lack the eloquence. I also lack your good manners. Thanks for your great posts . . .

Posted by: kc at September 5, 2004 06:43 PM

KC: The GOP would have been prepared to ruthlessly trash whoEVER the Democrats nominated.

Yes, of course, but in a different way. Lieberman, for example, cannot be effectively ridiculed as weak on defense. I would not fall for it for one instant. It would almost certainly backfire if the GOP tried it.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 5, 2004 06:44 PM
You think no one would photoshop Lieberman, widely derided by Republicans as "Loserman" in '00? You remember that, don't you?

Yep.. but I also recall that it was assocoated with "Sore" and that was making fun of his name and the florida recount -- not his policies. The only real nastiness I recall was when ubertwerp Michael Savage kept calling him "Chuckles the Kosher Clown" but he doesn't speak even for most dittoheads. But that was before 9/11. The sane wing of the GOP appreciated him later and any nastiness that did occur became regretted water over the bridge. Politics, as in diplomacy, doesn't have permenent allies and enemies. (Just don't ask me what'll happen in the future to make a GOP-Kerry foxhole reproachment. I would never have anticipated the 9/11 reallignments)

Posted by: Bill at September 5, 2004 06:44 PM

Tano: In proper context, the words make perfect sense.

To me those words are ridiculous in any context. "A more sensitive war." Please. If Bush said the same thing it would also be ridiculous. The difference is that it would be chalked up to his horrible problems with the English language.

You don't think Kerry is soft on defense. That's why his "sensitive war" comment doesn't grate on you the way it does me and a lot of other people.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 5, 2004 06:52 PM

Sure - it was stupid - given the common knowledge of how the Bushies run campaigns, the Kerry campaign should have hired a mercenary right-wing sleaze artist to go through all their speeches and point out how the words could be distorted.

Yeah. This is just a depressing thread. Instead of talking about the substance of what Kerry or Bush is doing, this is just nitpicking Kerry for basically telling the truth but doing it in a way that left him vulnerable to the GOP's distorting his meaning (not that they couldn't do that no matter what he said).

This in a nutshell is why this whole campaign is so sickening and disheartening.

Remember when Bush said we couldn't win the war on terror? His entire statement was actually quite reasonable and sensible - I agreed with it; thought it was one of the most intelligent things that has come out of his mouth. So what happens? The Dems immediately start attacking him (in a way I can hardly blame them) and the GOP immediately starts saying, "Oh no, what he MEANT to say was . . ."

We can't have an intelligent discussion about the challenges that face us because so many people crave simplicity and chest-thumping tough talk. Makes us feel better, I guess, but it's not making us safer.

Posted by: kc at September 5, 2004 06:52 PM

Michael,

Yes, "sensitive war" is an oxymoron. So is jumbo shrimp and Dodge Ram.

But in order to win the war on terror, we need to destroy or capture the terrorists while NOT inspiring thousands more to become terrorists. In other words, we need to be sensitive to the effect of our own actions.

Is this even in dispute?

Kerry is in no way suggesting that we be sensitive to the terrorists. Cheney is conducting a smear job.

Posted by: Oberon at September 5, 2004 06:59 PM

Tano and the Great White Whale

"None of this is particularly new stuff. Reagan was able to do it, as was Clinton. It comes down to simply being able to talk to people, to persuade, ..."

Persuade who? Europe wailed like scalded pigs when Reagan did what he had to. The left called him an amiable dunce. Clinton got some of NATO to help in Kosovo, but he didn't even waste time with the UN. Why? Because Russia, France, and China would have stymied him.

You chase these arguments like some demented Ahab, never yielding to reason. To what end? The tide is turning against the facile propagandist arguments you continually regurgitate. Like Ahab, you will continue to beckon, waving like his dead arm, but your ears lost to any mortal voice.

Posted by: jdwill at September 5, 2004 07:00 PM

KC: Remember when Bush said we couldn't win the war on terror? His entire statement was actually quite reasonable and sensible

Actually, I thought it was ridiculous. I didn't say so because I was on vacation when it happened.

The only way his comment made any sense is in the context of ending terrorism rather than winning this war. It's a cliche now to say you can't defeat a tactic. Of course you can't. And - news flash - we are not at war with a tactic. We are at war with Islamofascists who use that tactic (among other tactics depending on whether or not they control nation-states).

The fact that Bush has a hard time articulating this even after all this time is a serious problem. The fact that the Democratic Party has never been able to effectively respond to this is also a serious problem. Only hawkish intellectuals outside his administration (on both sides of the aisle) have been able to articulate clearly what's happening here.

Bush never would have said something so harebrained as "we can't win the war on terror" if he had defined the war properly in the first place. So I put 100 percent of the blame for this on him and him alone. The Democrats were right to pounce. They could have pounced with devastating effectiveness if they had properly defined the current war at the same time.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 5, 2004 07:03 PM

There really is something breathtaking about watching the Kerry Campaign surveying the carnage of the last week wrought by the Republicans, furrowing its' brow in thought, and then simply punting... Bush didn't pick up 10+ points and the support of people like Ron Silver, Roger Simon and Michael Totten by emphasizing his triumphs or initiatives in domestic policy.

At this point one can only assume that an announcement by Kerry's Campaign to focus on "domestic issues"...against the backdrop of the Beslan Massacre, by the way...is nothing more than admission of complete intellectual helplessness. In fairness though, it must be noted that in deciding to pretend it is forever Sept. 10, 2001, the Kerry Campaign has, for once, been honest with us about the Democratic Party's world view for the past three years.

Posted by: DennisThePeasant at September 5, 2004 07:03 PM

Will someone please explain to me how Bush is a liar? This is an article of faith on the Left, and the record simply does not support it. There were certain problems with the intelligence leading up to the Iraq War. The President, AND EVERYONE ELSE (including the sainted Bill Clinton), thought Saddam had huge stockpiles of WMD. They haven't been found yet, but we can't account for weapons we know Saddam had. How does this add up to a lie?

Posted by: Ben at September 5, 2004 07:09 PM

They could have pounced with devastating effectiveness if they had properly defined the current war at the same time.

Sure. And if I was two feet taller and 20 years younger I could play for the Lakers...

The Democratic Party has had three years less a week to properly define the current war. They have not done so by choice. The Kerry Campaign is now saying it will not do so during this election. At what point do you finally conceed the point that the Democratic Party refuses to take foreign policy seriously enough to defeat any Republican...no matter how muddled or inarticulate that Republican might be?

Bush is beatable...but not by anyone the Democratic Party would actually field against him. That would involve the hard, unpleasant work of putting together a comprehensive and realistic world view and identifying the necessity of solving a whole series of difficult and complex challenges...without help from people like Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich.

Posted by: DennisThePeasant at September 5, 2004 07:19 PM

I wrote: Yes, "sensitive war" is an oxymoron.

I take it back. "Civil war" is an oxymoron. "Sensitive war" was just a patriotically incorrect thing to say.

Posted by: Oberon at September 5, 2004 07:20 PM

Ben:

I can't give you all of Bush's lies, so here's just one: Bush claimed he was in the Air Force.

http://www.thenation.com/capitalgames/index.mhtml?pid=1704

Posted by: Tarz at September 5, 2004 07:25 PM

"The fact that Bush has a hard time articulating this even after all this time is a serious problem. The fact that the Democratic Party has never been able to effectively respond to this is also a serious problem. Only hawkish intellectuals outside his administration (on both sides of the aisle) have been able to articulate clearly what's happening here"...

Yep. Well, and Tony Blair. Have I ever mentioned before that I'm a big fan of Tony Blair? (heavy sarcasm)

Posted by: Grant McEntire at September 5, 2004 07:25 PM

" Lieberman, for example, cannot be effectively ridiculed as weak on defense. I would not fall for it for one instant. It would almost certainly backfire if the GOP tried it."

Sorry Michael, but do you remember what happened to Max Cleland?

Wanna venture a guess as to which Democrat was leading the effort to force Bush to accept standard labor arrangements for the Homeland Security Dept.?

That would be Joe Lieberman.

Posted by: Tano at September 5, 2004 07:28 PM

Yeah, and Joe Lieberman also came up with and spearheaded the idea of a Dapartment of Homeland Security. Kind of makes you miss the guy right about now, doesn't it?

Posted by: Grant McEntire at September 5, 2004 07:31 PM

I gotta say I'm really feeling something Michael wrote earlier, about being with Kerry about 95% on domestic issues. Makes it really depressing when you consider the fact you're only in agreement w/ Bush 5 percent of the time, on that front. Sometimes I wonder, on domestic issues alone, how wide a margin Kerry and the Democrats are favored with the American people. Sigh. I really hate these candidates.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at September 5, 2004 07:36 PM

Michael,

Tristan here, interesting thought provoking post you wrote. I compare the Democratic Party's difficulties on foreign policy to Australian Labor Party's policies on the economy and in particular interest rates. Here in Australia overtime the federal government remind voters of the 17% interest rates that occurred when Labor was last in office, it hurts Labor's electoral standing, in the USA when ever the Republicans mention the Democratic Party's record on foreign policy and national defence their electoral standing is damaged.

From a political viewpoint, the only real solution for the Democratic parties difficulties on this issue was for Kerry to outflank Bush on the war on terror, like for example proposing regime change in Iran, Syria, Palestine and Saudi Arabia and taking the fight seriously to Al Qaeda.

Rather like the only way to restore Labor's credibility on the economy and interest rates is to advocate a policy of real spending cuts, lower taxes and keep the budget in massive surplus. That kind of policy is an anthemia to Labor party activists, like the harsh line on the war on terror is an anthemia for the Democratic Party activists. Although much less of an anthemia as a policy of a financial straight jacket would be for Labor.

Posted by: Tristan Jones at September 5, 2004 07:40 PM

Michael,
Not to change the subject, but to sort of address your concerns regarding foreign policy, and you frustrations with the quality of the campaign discourse.

Wonk that I am, I spent my saturday night watching C_SPAN - totally fascinating 2 hr. presentation at the Pentagon (I think it was), by Thomas Barnett - a prof at the Naval War College, and the advisor for stragegy to Rumsfeld's Office of Transformation. IOW, the strategy brain behind DoD's take on the global situation, and how it must align itself to its future missions (or more precisely, Rumsfelds take). Obviously the guy was a supporter of the Iraq war - but his presentation was a long discourse on the entire scope of globalization in general, and the military's expected role in every corner of the world in the next generation.

If you are intersted, you should check it out for some insights behind the rhetoric.

He has a website with all his articles and a blog as well - thomaspmbarnett.com.

When I checked out his blog I was somewhat surprised to learn that he is intending to vote for Kerry.
Go figga...

Posted by: Tano at September 5, 2004 07:52 PM

A disappointing post, and disappointing comments from Michael. Nowhere did he address the sleazy nature of Cheney's use of "sensitive" versus Kerry's use of it.

I agree with the actual counterterrorism experts, such as Richard Clarke, or Rand Beers, and the generals such as Anthony Zinni.

In the long view, Bush has been horrible fighting terrorists, creating a breeding ground for more and more terrorists, with ill-conceived actions. Bush is NOT making us more safe, he is making us less safe. The actions of his administration have been of rank incompetence in this area. Let's review:

1. Terrorism is a low, low priority pre 9/11. Richard Clarke, the August PDB, the priority of terrorism on the Justice Departments listing of priorities (not even ON the list). There's a good case to be made that had there been a "call to arms" in July/August, that the 9/11 plot would have been uncovered.

2. After 9/11, the hiding of sensitive funding information that implicated the Saudis. (See Senator Graham). It took until late last year for the Saudi government to take Al-Queda seriously, and during that time, we played pussyfoot with the Saudis.

3. The immediate reaction to attack Iraq. Forgive me, but the facts show that the decision to attach Iraq was in the making for a long time, pre- 9/11, and if you read Richard Clarke's book, the decision of what to do with Iraq was "opportunistic", and not a "well-thought out plan based on the new understanding of 9/11". To argue that it was, is pure fantasy.

4. The misleading linking of Al-Queda to Iraq. The misleading case of WMD. Just how wrongly can you get things? Just how incompetent is an administration allowed to be?

5. The badly handled case of post-occupation Iraq.
a. Existing post ware plans, ignored.
b. Ideologues, instead of experts, given the running of the government.
c. The lack of security on the ground.

6. The continued LACK of funding for border and port security. This is essential, and hasn't been done.

Michael, you must understand, the facts are, this administration is incompetent, and has been incompetent in fighting terrorists, in the long view. The Bush administration makes us less safe. Period. Incompetency, blind ideology, and failure MEAN something. And resorts to appealing false pictures of freedom, without looking at the facts on the ground, is blinding yourself.

Posted by: JC at September 5, 2004 08:06 PM

JC: Nowhere did he address the sleazy nature of Cheney's use of "sensitive" versus Kerry's use of it.

I don't care a fig for Dick Cheney one way or the other. Really, I don't. I vastly prefer his counterpart John Edwards, but neither of them are on the top of the ticket.

In the long view, Bush has been horrible fighting terrorists, creating a breeding ground for more and more terrorists, with ill-conceived actions.

I'm sure Germans were a lot angrier after we declared war on them after Pearl Harbor, especially since they had nothing to do with Pearl Harbor. Oh well. That's the way it is in the middle of a war. This is a poor metric to measure progress by. Using this metric during World War II would "demonstrate" that Roosevelt was wrong to fight Hitler as well as Hirohito. But that would have been a terrible conclusion to arrive at.

You can't wage war without pissing people off. You just can't. It isn't possible. I'm sure the "Arab street" would like us much more if we sat back and took terrorism hits indefinitely without doing anything about it, but I really don't care. A "sensitive war" is just not an option.

You see? This is why Kerry's phrase bugged me. It fits in a little too nicely with commentary like yours.

Lots of people in the Middle East are mad at us for fighting. And you would prevent this from happening how, exactly? By refusing to fight? By letting the "Arab street" veto our actions? Bringing France along for the ride wouldn't help an iota on this front.

These are the things that make us defense hawks nervous right now. This is why the "sensitive war" comment by John Kerry is so irritating. I'm sorry we aren't seeing eye-to-eye on this.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 5, 2004 09:06 PM

MJT-

I'm wondering if the Kerry Campaign ever thought of using any of JC's arguments, or are they now insisting it's all about domestic issues because they have.

And it's kinda funny but...this is the first time I've heard Richard Clarke's name in any context in at least a month. Somehow I think the verdict is in on Mr. Clarke's expertise.

Posted by: DennisThePeasant at September 5, 2004 09:46 PM

When you read Al-Qaida meets with Central American gang, lawmaker says or D.C. hamstrings border officers: Despite new anti-terrorism demands, DHS freezes payrolls, frees illegals - or any of the dozens of other articles I could provide - it tends to cast a bit of doubt on Bush's national security credentials. Perhaps every time Kerry feels compelled to say something about Vietnam he could say something about Bush's version of homeland "security" instead.

Posted by: The Lonewacko Blog at September 5, 2004 11:15 PM

JC -- funny how the two reponses you got take issue with the word "sensitive" and the mention of Richard Clarke.

Also, you forgot how to mention how Bush proposed cutting the Nunn-Lugar program which seeks to secure all the old Soviet nukes and fissile material, including the "suitcase nukes," while Kerry promised to increase funding to get the job done in four years (instead of 2013).

Michael -- correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought Germany declared war on the U.S. first (December 11, 1941).

Who said we should wage war without pissing people off? That's a straw-man argument. The options are not "sensitive" versus "not sensitive." The options are more, less, or the same.

Some would say we're being too sensitive already -- let's just bomb the shit out of Najaf. And France. Both of which are tempting, but ultimately counterproductive.

Posted by: Oberon at September 5, 2004 11:23 PM

Oberon: Some would say we're being too sensitive already -- let's just bomb the shit out of Najaf. And France. Both of which are tempting, but ultimately counterproductive.

I don't think we should "bomb the shit" out of any place. (Especially not France. No, I'm not tempted.) Not because it's "insensitive," but because it's a war crime.

I do see your point. I hope you see mine.

We're going to piss people off if we do anything at all. Whatever we do that pisses people off can be used, in theory, as terrorist recruitment propaganda. This is not an excuse to not act. This is not an excuse to leave Saddam Hussein in power.

Remember, it was the sanctions and the anti-Saddam troops in Saudi that were used as Al Qaeda recruitment tools before regime-change was implemented. Those planks are now gone from Osama's platform. New planks are in place. Okay, so it looks like we might have moved sideways.

But Saddam is gone. Our troops are out of Saudi. Iraqi oil can replace Saudi oil on the market and the House of Saud won't be able to hold us by our feet over a barrel of oil. A free Iraq, if such a creature ever does come into being, could add some desperately-needed liberal variables to Middle Eastern culture.

Invading Iraq was a morally permissible strategic move. The fact that Al Qaeda still hates us is not evidence of failure. Al Qaeda will continue to exist, will continue to hate us, and will continue to have grievances for many years no matter what. Here's hoping we make some progress on other fronts in the meantime.

There's a swamp that needs draining. We'll see who hates us when it's dry. It will not be wet from here to eternity.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 5, 2004 11:35 PM

OBeron, thanks for the reminder.

I could also talk about the wonderful relationship with Ahmed Chalabi, that good friend with the White House - now not talked about, of course.

Michael,

With respect, I assume we will agree to disagree.

On the specific issues:

The German analogy. This is intellectually threadbare, in my opinion. I believe two to three months ago, there was some discussion (on this site, actually) of the right analogy for the Iraq conflict, and an attempt to both see what is similar and separate from the war against Al-Queda - at at the same time, draw analogies to similar type of occupations. (French Algiers, Phillipines, Germany, etc). At that time, if I am remembering correctly, on a factual level, there were far more dissimilarities to the German occupation, in comparison with the Iraq occupation.

And as Oberon also pointed out, "creating a breeding ground for terrorists" isn't the same thing as "Lots of people in the Middle East are mad at us for fighting". Again, clearly when it is necessary, you fight. But with a billion Muslims, it behooves us to take necessary action (such as what the US did in Afghanistan. I have no problem with that - and clearly this also "pisses Muslims" off) rather than unnecessary action. And when you take action that in world opinion, that is so deeply unpopular (again, which sometimes you must do! I am not saying otherwise! As I said, I supported the campaign in Afghanistan), you attempt to get the details right (such as the occupation), for God's sake.

The failures have been immense Michael. Just mind-blowingly immense. Halliburton. Chalabi. Fallulah. Al-Anbar. Najaf. Security. Abu Gharaib. Refusing to add more troops to active army status (Kerry is planning to add 40,000 more troops.)

If McCain had brought in the best people, then you have a possibility for success.

But these people are failures, Michael. These guys are failures, in too many ways to count. The Bush administration's failures', based on ideological rigidity, politics before policy, and arrogance -endanger our mutual security.

Thanks for listening.

Posted by: JC at September 6, 2004 01:22 AM

Kerry's idea of a "senstive" war is to alienate our real allies and grovel to the likes of Jacques Chirac and Kofi Annan. And our real allies like Tony Blair have noticed:

"Speaking of Blairs, British Prime Minister Tony Blair has banned Labor Party officials from attending this summer's Democratic Convention in Boston. Traditionally about 10 party leaders attend the event because of close ties between Labor and the Democrats."

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,114829,00.html

Posted by: HA at September 6, 2004 03:34 AM

There's a swamp that needs draining. We'll see who hates us when it's dry. It will not be wet from here to eternity.

Oh, the rhetoric!

The fact that there can be a "debate" on such a narrow point - Kerry's very mild piece of rhetoric about alliance building - does not say much for mainstream politics.

He was probably trying to make a quite sensible point about the need to build stronger alliances, but its been picked on by the usual predictable people.

I think the reality is - far from there being any divergence between Bush and Kerry on the war - in practice both leaders will act in remarkably similar ways. Perhaps a slight difference in emphasis here and there.

During an election though, the market demands that differences (such as they are) are emphasised to give the illusion of "choice".

But what are we debating? Not much of substance.

Posted by: Benjamin at September 6, 2004 03:59 AM

HA

"Speaking of Blairs, British Prime Minister Tony Blair has banned Labor Party officials from attending this summer's Democratic Convention in Boston. Traditionally about 10 party leaders attend the event because of close ties between Labor and the Democrats."

The reason Blair did that was that he wanted to stick strictly to the convention of neutrality - that is no foreign leader intervenes in the electoral processes of another country to favour any candidate.

Blair may secretly favour Bush, even though even that should not be taken for granted. What is more, Blair's party, and the vast majority of its leadership, most definately favour Kerry.

Posted by: Benjamin at September 6, 2004 04:06 AM

For all intents and purposes, the Democratic Party and John Kerry are little more than that next door neighbor who sits on his porch for three hours watching you try to figure out why your car won't start. After trying for those three hours to get that car started, you stand there covered in grease and sweat, wrench in hand, and the neighbor saunters over to stand next to you.

You say, "Can you think of anything?"
And he says, "You shouldn't have bought this car."

Technically, the statement is correct. It is, however, of no use in solving the problem at hand.

You know, there is a reason the criticism, fair or unfair, correct or incorrect, of G.W. Bush's handling of the War on Terror has not reasonating with the electorate. And has nothing to do with G.W. Bush.

Posted by: DennisThePeasant at September 6, 2004 06:00 AM

Aww, I was just joshin' about bombing France.

Having read "Charlie Wilson's War," I'm starting to think Bush did exactly right in Afghanistan -- go in there with local allies, rout our enemies, and get the hell out before the population starts to see us as occupiers.

Bush may have planned the same for Iraq -- take out Saddam, turn things over to Chalabhi, and withdraw. Note that the Pentagon expected to have most of the troops gone by now, and that the State Dept's detailed plans for administering Iraq were rejected.

Some good things have already come about because we invaded, as you pointed out. I hope this all works out, but the facts on the grounds are scary.

Posted by: Oberon at September 6, 2004 06:11 AM

To be fair to Kerry, I don't think his Iraq policy would be different from W's in "nuance" only. Not at all. Kerry's policy is of appeasement and withdrawal, having announced that in 6 months he'd call the troops home. This is, of course, a recipe for disaster as the insurgents/terrorists know they only have to hold out for 6 months and then they can have a run of the place. Kerry simply had to open his mouth, and already his policies have failed. If you vote for Kerry, you vote for an utter catastrophe in Iraq.

Posted by: David at September 6, 2004 06:38 AM

David-

For a significant number of people intending to vote for Kerry, that is the whole point.

It is not enough that Bush be defeated, he (and the neocons) must also be disgraced. That doesn't happen if Iraq succeeds as a democratic nation-state.

Posted by: DennisThePeasant at September 6, 2004 07:11 AM

Michael,

You are starting to grasp the sad reality here as you try to make your case for Kerry that you know full well will not resonate even if he articulates it in the way Tano wishes. The Democrats and their supporters simply do not understand that politics is no longer a chess match (if it ever was) You cannot "neutralize" an issue by moving your "bishop three spaces" if you know what I mean. Yes the Democrats almost entirely thought Kerry, by virtue of his service in Vietnam, could neutralize any perceived Republican advantage on national security How is it possible to think such a thing? I never believed it and always thought Kerry would be a weak candidate for a myriad of reasons. You see, Tano, people (I mean ordinary average people) start to get a "feeling" for candidates. Ocassionally that feeling arises from unfair attacks but more often than not it is based on truth. The feeling that many have gotten about John Kerry is that he is a cypher. A man who stands for nothing and will say anything. To the extent he stands for anything at all, these same people recognize that he stands for the old Democratic party that thought the Cold War could not be won and virulently opposed everything Reagan tried to do to win it. ( I should know. I was one of them but now recognize I was wrong) If I was Kerry, I would have stood up and said I was changed and stated that my review of the eighties has made me realize that the old approach was wrong and Reagan was actually correct. Just yesterday I heard Gephard say in an interview that Reagan had nothing to do with the winning of the Cold War, the Soviets were bound to collapse anyway. Check out their speeches and words from the mid eighties to see how they thought without the benefit of hindsight. My god how stupid do they think the people are?

Michael, you are correct. Of course right wing figures would have smeared any Democrat (and vice versa) But since people instinctively know that Lieberman is a hawk on national security and foreign policy, these attacks WOULD NOT HAVE WORKED. They are working against Kerry becuase, whether fair or unfair, exagerated or not, THEY ARE ESSENTIALLY TRUE. WHo cares if Cheney got deferrments. So did almost everybody else including Clinton obviously. But Kerry's four months in Vietnam DO NOT qualify him to be president and it INSULTS people to argue otherwise. Kerry brought this up. Kerry made it the centerpiece of his campaign and Kerry gained the nomination because Democrats somehow believed that this was all that mattered. People are not dumb. They know that Kerry defended Clinton's lack of service in 1992. They know that most war vets do not brag about how their service qualifies them for high office. I really doubt the Democrats are going to get it. I really do and that saddens me. Even Conservatives recognize that we need two parties of ideas for our political system to work effectively. When Kerry goes down in flames they will attribute it to the Republican hit machine. They are already doing so. Or they will claim Kerry failed to strike back effectively ala Dukakis. They will not face the truth that the emperor has no clothes.

Posted by: Doug at September 6, 2004 08:38 AM

Michael,

I appreciate your attempt to debate yourself about the candidates. Despite my personal dislike of Senator Kerry for his 1971 activities, and for his being a wealthy elite who knows what is best for the ignorant masses, I have some sympathy for him.

He is what he is, and he tried to play this campaign out as best he could. He does seem to have some shocking gaps in his experience, however. From his earliest years on, he has shown ignorance and naivete about foreign affairs. That naivete is what I believe drove his activities from 1971 on, including his meeting with the Sandinistas in 1986.

At times, it seems like Senator Kerry is living in some alternate universe, as when he denigrates our allies in Iraq as being fraudulent.

I also sympathize with Susan Estrich and her anger about the Swift Boat Vets, and any criticism of John Kerry. She seems be suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome from the Dukakis campaign. Then, Michael Dukakis was attacked over his program for letting prison inmates go free on weekends. It was a valid point, just as the tank picture made a valid point about him being unfamiliar with anything to do with defense and probably foreign affairs. John Kerry has proven to be vulnerable to criticism, because of his record. He based his candidacy on his ability to tell a good story and his "jazzed up" resume.

Regards,

Jim Bender

http://dreadnought-cruisers.blogspot.com/

Posted by: Jim Bender at September 6, 2004 09:13 AM

Michael — Actually, Germany declared war on us after Pearl Harbor, not the other way around. Churchill was ecstatic when he heard.

Kerry is advised to dodge foreign policy — sadly, if he is elected, that won't be an option, and we're seeing now how well he handles things he can't dodge.

But that's okay, because we are told Kerry's political education has yet to begin. Excuse me? Kerry's been a senator for 20 years, a self-appointed antiwar crusader for more than 30, and I hear he may have been in Vietnam... and his political education has yet to begin? If he's wasted the last three decades, what makes anybody think he's going to pick up the can now?

Posted by: richard mcenroe at September 6, 2004 09:13 AM

Bush's new plan for post-Saddam Iraq: "Keep saying '9/11' over and over."

Bound be as big a failure as his previous plan: "Be greeted as liberators."

You can name-call Kerry an appeaser but Bush is the one giving up Iraqi towns to the terrorists.

Posted by: Zipperhead at September 6, 2004 09:13 AM

So why aren't these hawkish liberals from the primaries coming forth to defend Kerry? Where's Sam Nunn? Where's Zell Miller? Oh, right...

Posted by: richard mcenroe at September 6, 2004 09:53 AM

>>>"You can name-call Kerry an appeaser but Bush is the one giving up Iraqi towns to the terrorists."

I agree with you on that. Bush isn't nearly as hawkish as he should be. Faluja and Najaf would have faded from the headlines months ago if he was.

Posted by: David at September 6, 2004 12:10 PM

You can name-call Kerry an appeaser but Bush is the one giving up Iraqi towns to the terrorists.

No, I believe that is the United State government, and by extension its' military, allowing the government of Iraq to deal with al-Sadr and his militia in the manner they feel to be most fitting. Given the overall mission of the United States in Iraq, following such a policy seems entirely appropriate...even if it doesn't kill as many of the militia as you would like.

Some of you Kerry Liberals need to curb your bloodlust, don't you think?

Posted by: DennisThePeasant at September 6, 2004 12:25 PM

Yay know, maybe it would be better if Kerry stayed off foreign policy: Kerry says will "try" to have troops home by end of his first term...

Posted by: richard mcenroe at September 6, 2004 12:34 PM

Heh. You say I have bloodlust b/c you couldn't answer the charge that Bush's plan for Iraq is "Keep saying '9/11' over and over."

Am I wrong? Someone tell me how he plans to create a stable allied country of free citizens over there. I'm giving you a softball. Take a swing.

Posted by: Zipperhead at September 6, 2004 05:59 PM

>>>"Someone tell me how he plans to create a stable allied country of free citizens over there. I'm giving you a softball. Take a swing."

It's not a softball zipperhead. that's the problem with you Libs. You want quick solutions and easy answers. There's very little complexity in your thinking. It's black and white. Not very "nuanced" at all.

Posted by: David at September 6, 2004 06:17 PM

Zipperhead -

Since I doubt you are advocating a "scorched earth" approach, I can only conclude that your question is disingenuous. Bush is attempting to fight a war - some things have been done right, others haven't. BUT, at least he is trying. Kerry and the Dems are just taking potshots: criticize from the left today and the right tomorrow - the only constant is always criticize. Criticism is good when it is constructive, but the vast majority of what passes for criticism by the Left is simply destructive. The Left has valid criticisms to make, but until they grow up enough to make them they cannot be trusted with political power.

Posted by: Ben at September 6, 2004 07:22 PM

You think no one would photoshop Lieberman, widely derided by Republicans as "Loserman" in '00? You remember that, don't you?

Obviously you dont remember, KC. It wasn't Loserman, it was Sore/Loserman. With out alteration of Gore up front, the later would have been insignificant.

And just as the left photoshops the right, the right would have found an applicible alteration for whomever the left chose had it not been Kerry. Funny thing about such mudslinging - to be successful, it has to have some root in common perception. Otherwise, it will backfire.

Posted by: Bains at September 6, 2004 11:18 PM

"As an officer [in the Air National Guard]," [Bush spokesman] told the AP, "he was serving on active duty in the Air Force."

Well, being in the Air National Guard and claiming to be in the Air Force is both an issue of semantics and of truth. It IS fair to say, "Bush lied -- he said Air Force instead of Air National Guard." But this truly small exaggeration is like Bush driving at 66 mph in a 65 mph zone and claiming he's not speeding.

It wasn't worth Dems attacking in 2000, and it's not worth it now, because it's mostly semantics. Bush served, not as a hero, but honorably enough (more than Clinton!)

Kerry claimed he was illegally in Cambodia, at Christmas in 1968, when in fact he was legally in Vietnam. This is like claiming he was doing 120 mph on a night when, in fact, he was only doing 60 (in a 65 zone).
Kerry served, honorably enough -- but claims he's a hero. A BIG hero. So much a hero that none can question any of his votes as a senator for the last 20 years, like Zell was doing.

Since leaving early is an option, leaving with 3 PHs but no days in the hospital is NOT what a big hero would do. If Kerry's first PH was self-inflicted, therefore undeserved, then him cutting out in 4 months 12 days is not only not heroic, but even not honorable.
And having a Silver Star with Combat V (non-existent) is perhaps even criminal.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at September 7, 2004 01:25 AM

Zipperhead-

Of course you're wrong.

The Bush Administration has articulated its' plan for the democratization of Iraq more times than John Kerry has bounced a baseball at home plate. There really isn't any need for it to be restated here. Either you haven't been paying attention, or you are in the process of getting ready to not pay attention.

Saying there isn't a plan because you either don't understand the plan or don't agree with the plan isn't really much of a plan.

Try again.

Posted by: DennisThePeasant at September 7, 2004 02:08 AM

Here's a link to a Mark Kleinman article, that says what I was trying to say, but better:

What Kerry Should Say About Iraq

I still believe that the two statements are not inconsistent, although the point that Michael makes about how other people seem to have to make this point for Kerry again and again, is clearly valid.

Is that due to an "accepted" Republican meme, that is false? A compliant press looking for easy stories? Or, as is suggested by Michael, political opportunism by Kerry?

All three most likely play a role.

Posted by: JC at September 7, 2004 09:09 AM

Ignore that last comment. Meant to post it on the next thread...

Apologies.

Posted by: JC at September 7, 2004 10:42 AM

testing

Posted by: jdwill at September 19, 2004 05:47 AM
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