With input from a dozen more advisors, John Kerry has settled on a strategy of criticizing the administrations’ policy in Iraq. And as George Will notes today, there’s much to criticize: spiraling violence in Baghdad and Fallujah, terrorist beheadings of Americans, and an instability that will make elections difficult if not impossible.
But Kerry continues to suffer under the same misconception that has hobbled his campaign from the start. He believed, and apparently continues to believe, that the election will be a referendum on President Bush’s leadership and that he only needs to present himself as a reasonable alternative. But as the inexorable slide in Kerry’s poll numbers attests: you can’t beat something with nothing.
Kerry’s aggressive new attack is an extension of this misconception. It is heavily laden with condemnation, but devoid of solutions. And it’s not enough to repeat – endlessly – that you have a “plan” when that plan is unworkable and untethered to reality. USA Today responded to Kerry’s speech with this headline: “Kerry confronts Bush on war with murky solution.”
The ultimate question for both men, of course, is what should we do now? On that point, the solutions offered Monday by Kerry are as unconvincing as Bush's claim that U.S. forces are making progress in stabilizing the country.The Washington Post wrote: “Experts say solutions may be unrealistic”:
"Kerry lays out nice suggestions but I have no reason to assume they'd work any better, in the sense that there's no sign that the international community is willing to contribute to stabilizing Iraq or helping with security even if there is a leadership change in Washington," said Judith Yaphe, a former CIA Iraq expert now at the National Defense University.Jed Babbin in the American Spectator was (ahem) less nuanced about Kerry’s “plan”:
The four-point plan for Iraq John Kerry outlined in his Monday speech is a concatenation of wishful thinking, defeatism, and moral obtuseness. And -- most importantly -- Mr. Kerry's goal is one to bring our troops home, not to win. His only idea is to talk the U.N. and NATO into taking the whole mess off our hands so we can withdraw our troops.Kerry had a press conference today in response to President Bush’s speech to the United Nations. I heard it on the radio and the humorous part (for me) was that the reporters’ questions were inaudible; you could only hear Kerry’s response. No matter! Every answer centered on magically convincing our “traditional allies” to help out in the rebuilding effort. There is no plan “B.”
Furthermore, after months of vacillation, this insincere thrust towards a relevant position on Iraq smacks of political desperation. At the core, Kerry’s plan is nothing more than a cynical talking point for the remainder of the campaign – as a solution, it is nothing.