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September 29, 2004


John Kerry once again stuck his silver foot in his mouth in the lengthy interview he gave to Diane Sawyer. You've heard, of course, Kerry's famous explanation of his position on the Iraq appropriation--"I voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it"--because it's been re-run countless times by net work news shows, not to mention it's being a key part of several clever Republican attack ads.

But now, Kerry has compounded this gaffe by trying to explain it away--and getting caught in lie. Here's how explained that famous phrase to ABC's Sawyer:

"It just was a very inarticulate way of saying something, and I had one of those inarticulate moments late in the evening when I was dead tired in the primaries — and I didn't say something very clearly. But it reflects the truth of the position, which is — I fought to have the wealthiest people in America share the burden of paying for that war. It was a protest. Sometimes you have to stand up and be counted, and that's what I did."

But, as ABC's political desk reports, the GOP's opposition research brigade almost instantly shot back this devastating reply:

"Kerry also said this morning that he said he 'actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it' because he had 'one of those inarticulate moments late in the evening when I was dead tired.' According to a Washington Post article the day after the event, Kerry's comments were at a 'noontime appearance.' Perhaps his watch was on Paris time, where it was evening."

Now, right at the moment when Kerry has staked his entire presidential campaign on proving George Bush a liar about Iraq (which is, of course, true), Kerry calls into question once again his own capacity for veracity. Moreover, he did so in a way that it was pitifully easy to demonstrate was patently false--and that reveals a grand stupidity on the part of the Democrats' candidate. And this is hardly the first time Kerry has been caught not simply stretching the truth but breaking it in two (like his self-contradicting story on throwing away his war medals, revealed in the Spring by ABC's Brian Ross).

Kerry's latest verbal cock-up is part of the reason why any hopes of his hitting a homerun in the first debate on foreign policy and Iraq are wishful thinking. Listen to him trying to once again explain his Iraq position, this time to Sawyer:

: Was the war in Iraq worth it?

JOHN KERRY: We should not have gone to war knowing the information that we know today.

DS: So it was not worth it.

JK: We should not — it depends on the outcome ultimately — and that depends on the leadership. And we need better leadership to get the job done successfully, but I would not have gone to war knowing that there was no imminent threat — there were no weapons of mass destruction — there was no connection of Al Qaeda — to Saddam Hussein! The president misled the American people — plain and simple. Bottom line.

DS: So if it turns out okay, it was worth it?

JK: No.

DS: But right now it wasn't [ … ? … ]--

JK: It was a mistake to do what he did, but we have to succeed now that we've done what he's — I mean look — we have to succeed. But was it worth — as you asked the question — $200 billion and taking the focus off of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda? That's the question. The test of the presidency was whether or not you should have gone to war to get rid of him. I think, had the inspectors continued, had we done other things — there were plenty of ways to keep the pressure on Saddam Hussein.

DS: But no way to get rid of him.

JK: Oh, sure there were. Oh, yes there were. Absolutely.

DS: So you're saying that today, even if Saddam Hussein were in power today it would be a better thing — you would prefer that . . .

JK: No, I would not prefer that. And Diane — don't twist here.

Brothers and sisters of TV-land, this is simply pitiful. Moreover, both in his hallucinatory explanation of his voted-for-it-voted-against-it pirouette, and in his handling of Sawyer's questioning of whether or not he still supported the war, Kerry sounds whiny---and Americans don't like to elect a whiner as their commander-in-chief, particulary when they have been taught we are at "war," albeit an undeclared one.

The other reason not to expect much that's encouraging out of Miami on Thursday night is that the debate cannot be joined honestly and forthrightly over the single most dangerous part of Bush's foreign policy: the Bush first-strike doctrine, which proclaims that the president can violate international law and, without a casus belli, invade any country he wants, any time he feels like it. Why can't that issue be confronted squarely? Because Kerry supports the Bush first-strike doctrine. He did in his speech when he voted the Constitution-shredding blank check for war, and he has reiterated it many times on the campaign trail. What's more, he actually believes what he says. Here's Kerry on CNN'sCrossfire back in 1997:

"We know we can't count on the French. We know we can't count on the
Russians," said Mr. Kerry. "We know that Iraq is a danger to the United States, and we reserve the right to take pre-emptive action whenever we feel it's in our national interest."So here, four years before Bush occupied the White House and announced his imperial first-strike doctrine, Kerry is already supporting that affirmation of the right to international lawlessness (not to mention the gratuitous frog-slanging).

Moreover, Kerry has " laid out a foreign policy agenda that appeared less idealistic about U.S. aims than those of President Bush or even fellow Democrat Bill Clinton," as the Washington Post reported on a lengthy intervew Kerry had given the paper on foreign policy in May. In that interview, Kerry said "he would play down the promotion of democracy as a leading goal in dealing with Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, China and Russia, instead focusing on other objectives that he said are more central to the United States' security."

All of which explains why progressive Democrats will be singing the Miami Blues after Thursday night.

The latest Pew poll, out today, which gives Bush an 8 point lead over Kerry, reflects the impact over time of Kerry performances like the ones recited above. According to the Pew pollsters' analysis, "The poll finds that Bush's gains in support are being driven more by perceptions of Kerry's weakness especially on leadership and other personal traits than by improved opinions of Bush. Fewer voters favor Bush over Kerry on handling Iraq than did so earlier this month (46% now, 52% Sept. 11-13). But Kerry's rating in the head-to-head evaluation on Iraq is no higher (38% now, 40% then). The Democratic challenger continues to inspire more confidence than Bush with regard to improving the economy, which 60% of Americans believe is in only fair or poor shape. But even here, the percentage favoring Kerry has not increased since the Sept. 11-13 survey (46% now, 47% then)." Those last two numbers show why it's insane for Kerry to have abandoned the economy for Iraq as the central focus of his fall campaign...A candidate should always lead from his strength--and in Kerry's case, these Pew numbres--as do those in the other major recent polls-- show that the only opening Kerry has with the electorate is on economic issues...

AFTER I posted the above analysis of Kerry's latest idiocy, my chum John Berendt (author of the best-selling "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil") e-mailed me the following pertinent comment:
"What I find so frustrating about Kerry is that there is a perfectly good explanation for his $87 billion vote, but he can't seem to explain it: the first bill (the one he voted for) included a clause that stuck the bill to the fat cats by paying for it with a rollback of the tax cut to the wealthiest Americans. The Republicans VOTED AGAINST THAT BILL. A second bill came up for a vote, and it omitted any plan to pay for the $87 billion. Kerry voted against that bill, and the Republicans voted for it. So, it could be said that the Republicans voted AGAINST THE 87 BILLION BEFORE THEY VOTED FOR IT!! Why doesn't Kerry just say that????? I've written Andy Tobias a dozen times trying to get him to pass it on to Kerry. He says he's done that, but I see no sign of it. The real story is that the $87 billion was NEVER the issue; how to pay for it was the issue. Kerry should say that the Senate would have voted on a third bill if the second had failed. But the $87 billion was a done deal from the outset.
"Have you ever seen the movie Salo? I watched it while I did my treadmill last week, and I damn near threw up. I feel the same way about this election. "

Hey, John, do you have any extra air-sick bags?...

DAVID BROOKS' column in yesterday's New York Times was devoted to comparing the coming elections in Iraq to those in war-torn El Salvador two decades ago. Now, veteran radical journalist Marc Cooper--who was actually in El Salvador for those elections--has destroyed Brooks in a first-rate, must-read dissection on his blog, entitled "Iraq is Not El Salvador," in which he corrrects Brooks' fantasy version of history. Writes Marc:

"The Salvadoran elections of 1982 – IMPOSED by the U.S. in the middle of an indigenous war, not only failed to bring democracy, but rather accelerated the conflict. The war lasted a full decade more. It took the lives of another 35,000 people (mostly all civilians, mostly all killed by the “democratic” and “elected” government” legitmated by the hollow Potemkin-elections). Make sure you read Marc's entire piece, based on his eye-witness testimony.

Posted by Direland at 11:35 AM | Permalink


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