Tuesday, September 21, 2004

The Kerry campaign train wreck

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.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If America were Iraq, what would it be like?

President Bush said Tuesday that the Iraqis are refuting the pessimists and implied that things are improving in that country.

What would America look like if it were in Iraq's current situation? The population of the US is over 11 times that of Iraq, so a lot of statistics would have to be multiplied by that number.

Thus, violence killed 300 Iraqis last week, the equivalent proportionately of 3,300 Americans. What if 3,300 Americans had died in car bombings, grenade and rocket attacks, machine gun spray, and aerial bombardment in the last week? That is a number greater than the deaths on September 11, and if America were Iraq, it would be an ongoing, weekly or monthly toll.

And what if those deaths occurred all over the country, including in the capital of Washington, DC, but mainly above the Mason Dixon line, in Boston, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, and San Francisco?

What if the grounds of the White House and the government buildings near the Mall were constantly taking mortar fire? What if almost nobody in the State Department at Foggy Bottom, the White House, or the Pentagon dared venture out of their buildings, and considered it dangerous to go over to Crystal City or Alexandria?

What if all the reporters for all the major television and print media were trapped in five-star hotels in Washington, DC and New York, unable to move more than a few blocks safely, and dependent on stringers to know what was happening in Oklahoma City and St. Louis? What if the only time they ventured into the Midwest was if they could be embedded in Army or National Guard units?

There are estimated to be some 25,000 guerrillas in Iraq engaged in concerted acts of violence. What if there were private armies totalling 275,000 men, armed with machine guns, assault rifles (legal again!), rocket-propelled grenades, and mortar launchers, hiding out in dangerous urban areas of cities all over the country? What if they completely controlled Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Denver and Omaha, such that local police and Federal troops could not go into those cities?

What if, during the past year, the Secretary of State (Aqilah Hashemi), the President (Izzedine Salim), and the Attorney General (Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim) had all been assassinated?

What if all the cities in the US were wracked by a crime wave, with thousands of murders, kidnappings, burglaries, and carjackings in every major city every year?

What if the Air Force routinely (I mean daily or weekly) bombed Billings, Montana, Flint, Michigan, Watts in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Anacostia in Washington, DC, and other urban areas, attempting to target "safe houses" of "criminal gangs", but inevitably killing a lot of children and little old ladies?

What if, from time to time, the US Army besieged Virginia Beach, killing hundreds of armed members of the Christian Soldiers? What if entire platoons of the Christian Soldiers militia holed up in Arlington National Cemetery, and were bombarded by US Air Force warplanes daily, destroying thousands of graves and pulverizing the Vietnam Memorial? What if the National Council of Churches had to call for a popular march of thousands of believers to converge on the National Cathedral to stop the US Army from demolishing it to get at a rogue band of the Timothy McVeigh Memorial Brigades?

What if there were virtually no commercial air traffic in the country? What if many roads were highly dangerous, especially Interstate 95 from Richmond to Washington, DC, and I-95 and I-91 up to Boston? If you got on I-95 anywhere along that over 500-mile stretch, you would risk being carjacked, kidnapped, or having your car sprayed with machine gun fire.

What if no one had electricity for much more than 10 hours a day, and often less? What if it went off at unpredictable times, causing factories to grind to a halt and air conditioning to fail in the middle of the summer in Houston and Miami? What if the Alaska pipeline were bombed and disabled at least monthly? What if unemployment hovered around 40%?

What if veterans of militia actions at Ruby Ridge and the Oklahoma City bombing were brought in to run the government on the theory that you need a tough guy in these times of crisis?

What if municipal elections were cancelled and cliques close to the new "president" quietly installed in the statehouses as "governors?" What if several of these governors (especially of Montana and Wyoming) were assassinated soon after taking office or resigned when their children were taken hostage by guerrillas?

What if the leader of the European Union maintained that the citizens of the United States are, under these conditions, refuting pessimism and that freedom and democracy are just around the corner?