Sunday, August 22, 2004

All ashore who are going ashore

While most of the press are still following orders from Kerry HQ, some are getting off the ship. Here's Time's Joe Klein - Kerry in a Straitjacket: George W. Bush is throwing curve balls and Kerry keeps swinging
John Kerry suffered a small embarrassment last week that illuminated a big problem in his campaign. The embarrassment involved the not exactly riveting issue of troop redeployments. George W. Bush announced last Monday in a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) that he wanted to bring around 70,000 troops home from Germany and North Korea over the next 10 years. In principle, that is not very controversial. The military and foreign policy priesthoods have favored that sort of restructuring since the end of the cold war. And yet, when Kerry spoke to the VFW two days later, he attacked Bush's position, using an argument with some merit but of microscopic import in the midst of a presidential campaign: he said it was a "hasty" and "political" plan and certainly not a good negotiating tactic to withdraw troops from Korea while we are trying to get the North Koreans to drop their nuclear program.

But oops. Some two weeks earlier, in an interview with George Stephanopoulos, Kerry had taken a different position: "I think we can significantly change the deployment of troops, not just [in Iraq] but ... in the Korean peninsula, perhaps, in Europe, perhaps." As you might imagine, the Bush campaign quickly pointed out the inconsistency.

The stumble raises two basic questions about Kerry's campaign. First, is he a latter-day Ron Burgundy—the idiot 1970s anchorman of Will Ferrell's recent film who would read anything that appeared on his TelePrompTer? Did Kerry not remember what he had said to Stephanopoulos? No, it was, apparently, yet another Kerry nanonuance: he is in favor of redeployments, just not now. The second question is far more dire: Why is Kerry wasting breath on such periphera? Why isn't he hammering Bush on his conduct of the Iraq war and the larger war against Islamist radicalism, which is the most important issue in this election?
"Nanonuance" - I like that. Of course, "whining" might be a better description ("whingeing" for those across the pond).

As for the big question, Lurch has got a real problem. The "thought leaders" of the Democrat party would prefer to surrender, while the little people don't care for the idea that it is somehow their fault that crazed wingnuts want to drop planes on them. So to make everyone feel good about his abilities to do something and not having to explain what that something is, Lurch decided to make a big deal of his 4 months in Vietnam. Smooth move, Ex-Lax.

If you would rather skip lefty angst, don't follow the link; but there are some gems:
Kerry's obvious frustration with his self-imposed straitjacket not only leads him into lame forays like the troop-deployment gaffe but also to some tortured circumlocutions about the war. Most spectacular was spokesman James Rubin's recent statement that a President Kerry "in all probability" would have gone to war against Saddam Hussein by now. Oh really?
Paging Ralph Nader!