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Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Another good debate critique

From the WSWS. They point out that the real issue in last Thursday's debate was John Kerry's hawkishness. Bush tried to convince viewers that Kerry wants to pull out of Iraq. Kerry, meanwhile, was tied in knots, trying to convince his corporate supporters who got him this far that he won't pull out, while trying to convince the many voters who think pulling out is a good idea that he doesn't really mean it. From the article:
This contradiction—a pro-war candidate seeking to win an election based on the support of antiwar voters—ran throughout the September 30 debate. Kerry continually sought, through a harsh tone and accusing demeanor, to imply greater opposition to Bush’s policies in Iraq than he actually articulated. He employed double-talk, describing the Iraq war as a “mistake” and an “error in judgment,” while declaring he had a plan to “succeed” in Iraq. His words were carefully chosen to leave open whether he was criticizing Bush from the left or from the right, and calling for less or more military violence.

Kerry had to walk a fine line as he simultaneously addressed two very different audiences: the masses of working people and young people who are looking for a way to reverse and repudiate Bush’s war policies, and the American ruling elite, which regards continued possession of Iraq and its vast oil reserves as a vital national interest. But when compelled to declare a firm position, in his closing statement, he came down decisively on the side of US imperialism, pledging military victory: "I believe we can be successful. I’m not talking about leaving. I’m talking about winning."
Like me, of course, the WSWS doesn't like either candidate. Kerry's position on Iraq is ridiculous; Bush's is more so:
For his part, Bush is attempting to retain the White House by running as a successful war president, under conditions in which the war is widely opposed by the masses of working people and regarded as a disaster by significant sections of the ruling class itself. At every step, Bush’s statements are in conflict with the reality made visible on television screens every night. Iraq is a country of car bombs, blackouts, 50 percent unemployment and a hated and isolated US-imposed puppet regime. Bush portrays it as a thriving democracy whose people rejoice at their "liberation" by the American tanks and warplanes that are slaughtering them.

Bush was unable to press an attack on the contradiction at the center of Kerry’s position on the war, not merely because of his intellectual deficiencies, but because of fundamental political contradictions of his own.

Kerry’s antiwar posture is false, while his pro-war stance represents the real viewpoint of the Democratic Party establishment, many of them veterans of the Clinton administration. But the Republican Party needs to whip up its far-right base with the insinuation that Kerry’s position represents quasi-treasonous opposition to US troops in wartime.

The Bush campaign has therefore turned reality upside down, asserting that it is Kerry’s pro-war statements that are false, and that his real, but concealed, position is for retreat and surrender in Iraq.