Monthly Archives: September 2004



Funny thing is, he still believes it.

…Bill O’Reilly of Fox News … asked Bush whether he would still do the carrier landing on the USS Abraham Lincoln beneath the “Mission Accomplished” banner. At the time, 16 months ago, Bush referred to Iraq as a “victory” and declared an end to major combat there.

“Absolutely,” the president replied in the interview, to air on Monday’s “O’Reilly Factor.” O’Reilly, apparently surprised, replied, “You would?” “Of course,” Bush continued. “I’m saying to the troops, on this carrier and elsewhere, ‘Thanks for serving America.’ Absolutely. And by the way, those sailors and airmen loved seeing the commander in chief. . . . You bet I’d do it again.”

What Is A Win in Iraq?

Even Colin Powell admits the situation in Iraq is getting worse. And more are re-thinking what we must willing to accept to get out of there.

The one thing Americans agree on is that terrorism remains a real threat. The reason so many still support our present action in Iraq may be as simple as this: There’s no other anti-terrorist activity in play. This leads to a sort of willful illogic: We must support what’s happening in Iraq, even though we believe it isn’t helping and may even be making us more vulnerable to terrorist attack, because otherwise we’d be doing nothing about terrorism.

We need to change the conversation. First, our goals for Iraq itself must be scaled back. No more insistence on Western-style secular democracy. We must acknowledge the unlikelihood of a politically stable Iraq in which Islamic clergy don’t play a major role. It may be all we can hope for just to forestall civil war.

And even that modest goal can’t be met by our reliance on military might. Our very presence in Iraq — militarily and commercially — is provocative. The most dangerous thing for an Iraqi these days is to be seen as cooperating with us. The new conversation must be about how to achieve stability, not how we can forcibly pacify the place. This suggests more reliance on international diplomacy than the Bush administration seems comfortable with, and it might even suggest the possibility of conversations between Western and Iraqi clergy.

Columnist Bill Raspberry thinks Daniel Yankelovich has the right approach.

Yankelovich, co-founder and chairman of Public Agenda, said a half-century of observing social and political movements has led him to believe that all successful movements have three pillars of support: (1) a small group of committed militants, (2) a large group of moderates who deplore the militants’ tactics but share their grievance and (3) a convenient scapegoat.

“You can’t argue with [al Qaeda militants and their allies],” he said. “They are determined to kill us. We have to deal with them through force and force alone.

“But to address the other two legs, we need an enlightened long-term political strategy to divide the moderates from the jihadists and to remove ourselves from the role of scapegoat.”

And how can Bush win re-election given this piece of news?

…there is this tantalizing bit in a recent NBC-Wall Street Journal poll. Though respondents favored Bush by a slight margin, 58 percent said they hoped for “major changes” in a second Bush term, compared with only 9 percent who say they’d like to see a second term that looked like the first one.

Kerry needs to tap into that fear that a second Bush term will be more of the same. If he hammers on this theme, Bush will eventually be asked how his second term would be different and what he thinks were the mistakes of the first term. Could make an interesting question for the debate panelists.

Update: Kevin Drum has another piece of bad news getting worse in Iraq.

Why So Long?

I’m not sure that the six-point plan is detailed enough or different enough from Bush’s (except Bush only mouths the words and couldn’t get bears to follow him if his ass was covered in honey), but why did it take so long to say this?

John F. Kerry detailed his plan for combating terrorism Friday and insisted that the nation is no safer after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks because President Bush took his “eye off the ball.”

In a harsh assessment of his rival’s policies, Kerry told an audience at Temple University that Iraq has become a haven for terrorists, and he drew a sharp distinction between the war on terrorism and the war in Iraq to differentiate his policies from those of the president.

“The invasion of Iraq was a profound diversion from the battle against our greatest enemy — al Qaeda,” Kerry said. “The president’s misjudgment, miscalculation and mismanagement . . . all make the war on terror harder to win. George Bush made Saddam Hussein the priority. I would have made Osama bin Laden the priority.”

Yeah it’s the Saturday paper, but this story was front page three columns above the fold with a two column photo in The Post. The Bush response was with the jump on A8. (Hey, sometimes we win one.)

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

Ah, for the days when people whose salaries we pay wouldn’t hide behind the Bush.

New York Times public editor Daniel Okrent is among those crusading for “senior officials” to come out from behind their cloak of anonymity. He has used his twice-monthly column in the Times to call on top newspaper editors to insist their reporters boycott background briefings, calling them “an affront to journalistic integrity and an insult to the citizenry.”

“At a time when news organizations have real credibility problems, to invite more by taking part in this charade is intellectually dishonest and cowardly,” Okrent said Tuesday.

He believes that if the AP and the “big five” newspapers in Washington – USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times — walk out of anonymous briefings, their use would diminish.

Slate’s media columnist Jack Shafer this week asked reporters who agree with Okrent to do something about it: “Drop me an e-mail every time an under-sub-deputy-director of flimflam convenes a background briefing,” Shafer wrote. “I’ll provide the creative destruction by publishing anonymice’s names in this column, thereby putting the briefings on the record.”

Kerry’s Consistency

Thomas Fitzgerald of the Knight Ridder Newspapers writes that, despite the charges of flip-flopping, a close look at Kerry’s record indicates that “for the past two years [Kerry] has been consistent and defensible – just difficult to sell in a sound-bite world. “

Kerry always called for a broad international coalition to confront Saddam Hussein, and going to war only as a last resort. Like most senators, he thought Bush needed the authority – it passed the Senate 77-23, and Kerry was one of 29 Democrats who supported it.

But once Bush got the authority, Kerry believes, he misused it.

In his Tuesday news conference, where 10 out of 11 questions probed his position on Iraq, Kerry said that he voted to authorize Bush to go to war if necessary in order to present a united U.S. front to the world and thus strengthen Bush’s hand.

It was only one year after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The president was challenging the United Nations to support him in confronting Saddam, whom Bush painted as a clear and present danger to the world. He told Congress that the best hope of avoiding war was to stand strong and united, first at home, then together with the United Nations in backing Saddam down.

“The vote for authorization is interpreted by a lot of people as a vote to go to war,” Kerry said Tuesday. “But if you read it, and if you think about what it gave the president, it gave the president what he said: America will speak with one voice … It was not a vote to go that day. It was a vote to go through the process of going to the U.N., building the allies and then making a judgment of whether we had to go.”

It is clear from Kerry’s remarks during the 2002 Senate debate that he did not consider the resolution a declaration of war.

“Let there be no doubt or confusion about where we stand on this. I will support a multilateral effort to disarm (Saddam) by force, if we ever exhaust … other options,” Kerry said in debate.

Then as now, he urged Bush to work with the United Nations.

“If we do wind up going to war with Iraq, it is imperative that we do so with others in the international community,” Kerry said.

In fact, Bush promised at the time to build a broad coalition and go slow.

In an Oct. 7, 2002, speech in Cincinnati, just four days before the Senate vote, the president pledged to exhaust other options and said that war was “not inevitable.” He urged Congress to pass the resolution to give him leverage.

And Bush has used the resolution as leverage against Kerry ever since.

Poor Allawi, Traitorous Kerry

The Bushies continue to question Kerry’s patriotism in every way they can. The latest is the attack on Kerry for criticizing Ayad Allawi’s fantasy land assessment of the country he left 32 years ago only to return as the head of the puppet government of the United States.

Democrat John Kerry wrongly questioned the credibility of the interim Iraqi leader, and “you can’t lead this country” while undercutting an ally, President Bush said Friday.

Gee, wonder why he wasn’t as concerned about hurting the feelings of the French and the Germans 18 months ago.

“This brave man came to our country to talk about how he’s risking his life for a free Iraq, which helps America,” Bush said at a campaign event in battleground Wisconsin. “And Senator Kerry held a press conference and questioned Mr. Allawi’s credibility. You can’t lead this country if your ally in Iraq feels like you question his credibility.”

Allawi spent 32 years getting rich, and his credibility was sort of shot when he told the Bushies last year that Sadaam Hussein had WMD that could be “operational in 45 minutes.”

Of course, Herr Dick Cheney had to also throw one below the belt again.

“I must say I was appalled at the complete lack of respect Senator Kerry showed for this man of courage,” Cheney said at an event Friday morning in Lafayette, La. “Ayad Allawi is our ally. He stands beside us in the war against terror. John Kerry is trying to tear him down and to trash all the good that has been accomplished, and his words are destructive.”

I fell so bad that our political campaigns have descended to the point where we’ve hurt the feelings of a guy who was a Ba’athist, then a CIA spy and then an opportunist looking for the chance to replace Hussein. Can’t a guy get any repsect?

Is the Press Prepared?

Teresa Heinz Kerry expects an October surprise. Few would be surprised.

In regard to the hunt for terror leader Osama Bin Laden, Heinz Kerry said she could see the al-Qaida chief being caught before the November election.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if he appeared in the next month,” said Heinz Kerry, alluding to a possible capture by United States and allied forces before election day.

My question is this: How is the media preparing for such a widely anticipated eleventh-hour ploy to sway the election? Do they have action plans on how to determine if the surprise is pre-planned? Can they get to the bottom of it before the election?

My guess is Karl Rove will make sure they can’t.