Uh-oh. I’ll admit that last week I publicly muttered that it was looking like John Kerry might actually have a good chance at winning in November. I should have added: ”that’s if he can bail out from his sinking campaign boat."
Indeed, Swift Boat Captain Kerry seems to be steering straight for the rocks. He let himself get suckered by George W. Bush’s challenge ten days to publicly state if, in retrospect, he still would have voted for the Iraq war resolution. Kerry, as you know, said yes to Bush’s query. And now we have the surreal situation of Kerry being on the defensive about the war instead of Bush.
Here’s what Kerry should have said: "I've reached the conclusion, retrospectively, now that the inadequate intelligence and faulty conclusions are being revealed, that all things being considered, it was a mistake to launch that military action, especially without a broad and engaged international coalition...the cost in casualties is already large and growing, and the immediate and long-term financial costs are incredible." So.. the answer to Bush should have been NO!
That quote above came not from Kerry but rather from conservative Nebraska Republican Congressman Doug Bereuter whose position as announced today now puts him to the left of Kerry. (Note to Pwogessives: Maybe you should invite Dougie over to your next Take Back America confab... He’s retiring in a month or so and will be available as he sure ain’t gonna be invited to any GOP rallies).
Make no mistake. Kerry wasn’t just tongue-tied when he sped directly into Bush’s trap. This pandering on the war is a calculated strategy to win over the undecided. In case you have any doubts, check out Kerry’s further pandering today at the VFW convention. Now, he’s moved to Bush’s right on the administration’s just-announced plan to withdraw 70,000 troops from Europe and Asia.
Yes, Bush is pushing the withdrawal to give himself more troop flexibility in the Middle East. Kerry should be free to take up that line of critique. Instead, Kerry sounded just like Ronald Reagan today, vigorously arguing that we would be betraying our friends if we pared down any of our foreign imperial troop outposts: "With Al Qaeda operating in 60 countries, we need closer alliances in every part of the world to fight and win the war on terrorism."
This is sheer poppycock. Isn’t it Kerry who has, correctly, argued that the War on Terrorism requires more than a military component? What do U.S. infantry and tanks stationed in Germany have to do with fighting Al Qaeda? Kerry’s also wrong when he says the plan to cut U.S. troops from about 30,000 to 20,000 in South Korea will encourage rogue behavior from North Korea. Come on… one nuclear-equipped sub is enough to level Pyongyang on a moment’s notice.
The American troops now scheduled for withdrawal should have been brought home long ago and Kerry insults our intelligence to argue otherwise. If you want to denounce Bush’s motives—then go ahead. But do it without the Scoop Jackson impersonation. Anyway, the sort of multilateralism that Kerry's been promising requires, precisely, that the U.S. reduce its overwhelming military presence on allied soil.
Cranky colleague Helen Thomas called Kerry out on all this today in her column for the Hearst papers. She zeroed in on Kerry’s piss-poor excuse for saying he would vote for the Iraq authorization again if he had a second chance:
Kerry explained that he believes a president should have the "authority" to go to war, and he voted accordingly. But he insisted that Bush subsequently misused the authority by rushing headlong into combat based on faulty intelligence about Saddam's weapons arsenal.
Kerry is mistaken on a key point. Under the U.S. Constitution, the president does not have that sole right to declare war. Despite its mindless default, that right still belongs to Congress.
Kerry has passed up several chances to distance himself from the Iraqi debacle. But instead he has left himself wide open to Bush's ridicule. What's he got left -- stem-cell research?
Perhaps. But what Kerry supporters ought to be doing now is expediting advanced research on spinal cord transplants. Looks like their candidate could use one… and fast.