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Monday, September 20, 2004

New, improved Kerry

Kerry's speech today, from the transcript at least, was better than I expected. This one sentence seems to put the situation in Iraq into proper perspective:
Raw sewage fills the streets, rising above the hubcaps of our Humvees.
That's right, we're up to our hubcaps in you-know-what. Kerry on...
Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who deserves his own special place in hell. But that was not, in itself, a reason to go to war. The satisfaction we take in his downfall does not hide this fact: we have traded a dictator for a chaos that has left America less secure.
By one count, the President offered 23 different rationales for this war. If his purpose was to confuse and mislead the American people, he succeeded.

His two main rationales – weapons of mass destruction and the Al Qaeda/September 11 connection – have been proved false… by the President’s own weapons inspectors… and by the 9/11 Commission. Just last week, Secretary of State Powell acknowledged the facts. Only Vice President Cheney still insists that the earth is flat.
Good line, John, but don't forget William Safire! And the House of Representatives! Cheney's undisclosed location under the flat earth is depressingly well populated. Still, it's good to hear you get Kerry'd away now and then. Go on...
The President now admits to “miscalculations” in Iraq.

That is one of the greatest understatements in recent American history. His were not the equivalent of accounting errors. They were colossal failures of judgment – and judgment is what we look for in a president.

This is all the more stunning because we’re not talking about 20/20 hindsight. Before the war, before he chose to go to war, bi-partisan Congressional hearings… major outside studies… and even some in the administration itself… predicted virtually every problem we now face in Iraq.
Right John, but watch out for the boomerang effect. You knew or should have known all of this stuff, yet you still voted to give Bush the authority to go to war. That, too, was a colossal failure of judgement. Still, Kerry on...
In Iraq, this administration has consistently over-promised and under-performed. This policy has been plagued by a lack of planning, an absence of candor, arrogance and outright incompetence. And the President has held no one accountable, including himself.

In fact, the only officials who lost their jobs over Iraq were the ones who told the truth.

General Shinseki said it would take several hundred thousand troops to secure Iraq. He was retired. Economic adviser Larry Lindsey said that Iraq would cost as much as $200 billion. He was fired.
Can anyone seriously say this President has handled Iraq in a way that makes us stronger in the war on terrorism?

By any measure, the answer is no. Nuclear dangers have mounted across the globe. The international terrorist club has expanded. Radicalism in the Middle East is on the rise. We have divided our friends and united our enemies.
Ahh...a uniter AND a divider. But be careful, John. Don't get Kerry'd away...
After the events of September 11, we had an opportunity to bring our country and the world together in the struggle against the terrorists. On September 12th, headlines in newspapers abroad declared "we are all Americans now." But through his policy in Iraq, the President squandered that moment and rather than isolating the terrorists, left America isolated from the world.

We now know that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction and posed no imminent threat to our security.
Yeah, but you were one of those insisted that Iraq had WMD's and did pose a threat. You even thought, like Rummy did, that Bush should have used 9/11 as an immediate springboard to attacking the "better targets" in Iraq. Still, you're making more sense than you have in years, John, so Kerry on...
Yet today, President Bush tells us that he would do everything all over again, the same way. How can he possibly be serious? Is he really saying that if we knew there were no imminent threat, no weapons of mass destruction, no ties to Al Qaeda, the United States should have invaded Iraq? My answer is no – because a Commander-in-Chief’s first responsibility is to make a wise and responsible decision to keep America safe.
The President’s insistence that he would do the same thing all over again in Iraq is a clear warning for the future. And it makes the choice in this election clear: more of the same with President Bush or a new direction that makes our troops and America safer. It is time, at long last, to ask the questions and insist on the answers from the Commander-in-Chief about his serious misjudgments and what they tell us about his administration and the President himself.
All in all, a big improvement in Kerry's standard Iraq stump speech, which can generally be paraphrased as "Maybe I'm a flip-flopper, but then again maybe I'm not." Unfortunately, his proposals, while not as overtly brutal as I expected, seem half-hearted and unlikely to accomplish much, or even happen at all. More help from other countries? Why in the world would they want to get their kids killed in America's mess? More Iraqi cops and troops? Not working so far. And Kerry doesn't address the really pressing issue--what does he do about Fallujah and other no-go zones? I would hope the answer would be "basically nothing--we won't win hearts and minds through bombing." But while he's finally condemning Bush on a host of failures, Kerry says nothing about the criminal aerial bombing of civilian areas.

Anyway, it's good to see the Democrat finally doing a passable immitation of an opposition candidate.