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Thursday, July 29, 2004

Another view on Kerry

Guest Blogger Paul Parker

Thanks to Rodger for a swell intro. He's deserving of some nice R and R with the family, and we'll try not to burn down the house while he's away.

Let me start by piggybacking on Rodger’s post on John Kerry and Iraq, and the frustration Avery expresses about the Kerry camp, and Kerry’s message not getting out. I heartily recommend Philip Gourevitch’s profile of Kerry in last week’s New Yorker. The profile provides nervous Dems some insight into Kerry’s thinking, and its also the kind of piece that makes my vote on November 2 transcend being “anybody but Bush.”

Here’s an excerpt, starting with a discussion of Kerry’s vote against the $87 billion reconstruction bill, after the vote for (Biden’s proposal to pay for it by rolling back tax cuts), the vote that gave rise to that Bush commercial soudbite that makes you cringe:

Kerry prefers to describe his opposition as a protest vote, since he cast it knowing that the measure would pass, and he considers it a minor matter compared with the Bush Administration’s own inconsistencies about Iraq. “They have flip-flopped every step of the way in this thing,” he told me. “They flip-flopped on their rationale, they flip-flopped on what they said they’d do, they flip-flopped on each of the promises the President made about how he’d conduct it. They flip-flopped on when they would transfer authority. They flip-flopped on to whom. They flip-flopped on the U.N. They have flip-flopped on the intel, and they have obviously flip-flopped on the numbers of troops needed and how they would manage those troops, what the deployment times would be. I mean, this is an unbelievable series of flip-flops, with grave consequences.”

At campaign rallies, Kerry often says of Bush, “If you think I would have taken us to war the way he did, you shouldn’t vote for me.” This line is carefully formulated, he told me, “Because I might well have been in Iraq if Saddam had stiffed the U.N., continued to not allow inspections, hidden things. But I would have brought other countries to the point of impatience with him. Then they would have been there with us. And the President could have done that. I know it because I spent the time to go up and meet with Security Council representatives. I talked to them at great length prior to the vote.”

The first paragraph makes me anxiously anticipate the campaign season and the debates. I trust Kerry will vocalize such things. The article points out Kerry sometimes makes his supporters uncomfortable in not being more aggressive. Indeed. But it also makes clear that's his style, and mostly he makes it work.

I would expect the second paragraph to be central to the Kerry message from here on out: policy choices, not intelligence failures, got us where we are. Bush places so much stock in being a decisive leader, it should be easy to link failed policies to failed leadership.

update: I wrote this midday on Thursday, and I finish it off as the biofilm is rolling at the Fleet Center. so by now, you have seen his speech, and the spin on the speech. But read the profile for more good insight to his thinking on Iraq I, the buildup to Iraq II, and the occupation / reconstruction.

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