In response to Hugh's symposium topic this week (see it here, and other bloggers' entries here), I humbly offer the following "character fisking" of Senator Kerry's exchange with reporters yesterday. My comments are in bold italics:
Q. "If you are elected, given Paul Bremer's remarks, and deteriorating conditions as you have judged them, would you be prepared to commit more troops."
[Reminder: Bremer, in an extremely and inexplicably ill-timed speech, said he thought we needed more troops in Iraq to provide post-invasion security.]
A. "I will do what the generals believe we need to do without having any chilling effect, as the president put in place by firing General Shinseki, and I'll have to wait until January 20th."
I don't know if this kind of statement is coming from the Carville-Begala types, but it sure sounds like it. The approach is simple: Knowingly utter a false statement on a subject with which the public at large is not very familiar, but which supports your position or makes your opponent look bad. The better-informed voters own't be fooled, but the majority might be. Kerry's doing this more and more. For a while he looked desperate. now he looks like he's smelling the presidency and is willing to do anything to get it. This shows a weaselly, Clintonesque streak that is very disturbing.
"I don't know what I am going to find on January 20th, the way the president is going. If the president just does more of the same every day, and it continues to deteriorate, I may be handed Lebanon, figuratively speaking."
See comments above. No one-- at least no responsible, informed person who is not part of the hard left-- think Iraq is headed that direction. The evidence does not support that fever swamp view at all. One wonders why Kerry would say such a thing. Maybe he wants to energize his True Believer base? Character-wise, I think this shows Kerry's willingness to make extremely reckless statements in order to advance his personal political fortunes. Not what we want in the President of the United States.
"Now, I just don't know. I can't tell you. What I'll tell you is, I have a plan. I have laid out my plan to America, and I know that my plan has a better chance of working."
Is anyone else a little fuzzy on what that plan is? Perhaps it includes assembling the "coalition of the bribed," which, based on the Duelfer report, would be France, Germany, and a few of the others whose cooperation Saddam Hussein purchased, and whose presence in Iraq Senator Kerry misses so much.
We get a glimpse of Kerry's character here. He is so incredibly arrogant as to think he can simply say he has a plan and an understanding of the world (meaning the French and Germans) and that by force of his personality, intellect, and other personal attributes he can make that plan and that undestanding work. I fear he really believes this.
"And in the next days I am going to say more about exactly how we are going to do what has been available to this Administration that it has chosen not to do. But I will make certain that our troops are protected. I will hunt down and kill the terrorists, and I will make sure that we are successful, and I know exactly what I am going to do and how to do it."
Yesirree. I am sure the Osama bin Laden and his fellows are sitting around saying to one another, "I hope that Kerry guy does not get elected. We will be in big trouble then." This is the empty bloviating of someone who is not very well-prepared but very ambitious.
"Q. Duelfer also said that Saddam fully intended to resume his weapons of mass destruction program because he felt that the sanctions were just going to fritter away.
A. But we wouldn't let them just fritter away. That's the point. Folks! If You've got a guy who's dangerous, you've got a guy you suspect is going to do something, you don't lift the sanctions, that's the fruits of good diplomacy. This Administration...I beg your pardon?"
This is simply a stupid statement, made without thinking.
"Q. You just said [Bush] fictionalized him [Saddam] as an enemy. Now you just said he's dangerous?
A. No. What I said. I said it all the time."
But he doesn't like being caught in a stupid, inconsistent, thoughtless statement, does he? Now the wheeel-spinning and sputtering begins:
"Consistently I have said Saddam Hussein presented a threat. I voted for the authorization, because he presented a threat. There are all kinds of threats in the world, ladies and gentlemen. Al Qaeda is in 60 countries. Are we invading all 60 countries? 35 to 40 countries had the same --more-- capability of creating weapons, nuclear weapons, at the time the president invaded Iraq than Iraq did. Are we invading all 35 to 40 of them? Did we invade Russia? Did we invade China?"
The first rule of holes: When you're in one, stop digging. Kerry has never learned this. He panics. Again, not what we want in a president. Can you imagine him in a tough negotiating session with a Putin or, heaven forbid, a Chirac?
"The point is that there are all kinds of options available to a president to deal with threats and I consistently laid out to the president how to deal with Saddam Hussein, who was a threat. If I'd been president, I'd have wanted the same threat of force. But as I have said a hundred times if not a thousand in this campaign, there was a right way to use that authority and a wrong way. The president did it the wrong way. He rushed to war without a plan to win the peace, against my warnings and other people's warnings. And now we have the mess we have today. It is completely consistent that you can see him as a threat and deal with him realistically just as we saw the Soviet Union and China and others as threats and have dealt with them in other ways."
Some day maybe Kerry will tell us what "other ways" he would have used to deal with Saddam Hussein. He probably means sanctions and old-style diplomacy, which the Dulefer reports clearly shows were not working, because Saddam was waiting them out, wearing them out, and bribing his way out. Unfortunately, Kerry thinks like the French. Or maybe more like Neville Chamberlain. In Hugh's words:
Stanley Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain did not intend for Hitler to rise
or metastasize into the monster he became, or to cause ruin and woe to the
cities and people of Great Britain. They were patriots. They were also,
both of them and those who supported them, terribly, horribly wrong, and the
consequences of that error was the near destruction of their nation and the
murder of millions.
I am voting for George W. Bush because I believe Kerry is also "terribly, horribly wrong," and that the consequences of his errors, if he were to be elected, would be even worse.