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Dumb and dumber

Some intelligent, thoughtful bloggers I have great respect for -- bloggers who would ordinarily never support a Democrat for president -- have announced their likely intention to vote for John Kerry this November. Their primary reason is disgust with President Bush's seeming incompetence and/or irresponsibility. There's some truth to that; Bush may be on the right side of the war on terror, but his execution has left something to be desired. And much of his domestic policies range from egregiously awful to plain ol' stupid.

I can sympathize with this position; in terms of domestic policy, there's a serious argument that can be made that a Kerry presidency would be superior to a Bush presidency. Not because Kerry is something to write home about, but because a GOP-controlled Congress and a Democratic president might be nicely gridlocked for four years. The problem is, there's still foreign policy. And Kerry is so feckless that it's hard to imagine him as commander-in-chief. And Edwards? A total lightweight.

For instance, this article in the New York Times, in which Kerry and Edwards boldly announce that the Iraq intelligence was bad:

Senator John Kerry and Senator John Edwards declared on Friday that slipshod intelligence invoked by President Bush to invade Iraq had cost the nation lives, billions of dollars and international prestige, signaling that the Iraq war would be a central issue in their White House campaign.


"They were wrong and soldiers lost their lives because they were wrong," Mr. Kerry said as Mr. Edwards, in an adjacent seat in the front of their chartered Boeing 757 jet, nodded in agreement. "And America's paying billions of dollars because they were wrong. And allies are not with us because they were wrong."

Mr. Edwards said, "My view is that what George Bush has done in Iraq, both in the lead-up to the war and more importantly his planning for winning the peace, has cost America dearly, and cost the possibility of success dearly."

Yadda yadda yadda. Bush lied, people died. Pretty standard fare, right? But here's what got my goat:
While the two men said they had discussed the crisis in Iraq in their frequent talks leading to Mr. Kerry's decision this week to choose Mr. Edwards, they did not offer any ideas about what the United States should do to end the war beyond what they had previously called for: enlisting the help of allies and the United Nations.

Both Mr. Edwards and Mr. Kerry voted for the resolution authorizing Mr. Bush to go to war. In the interview, they declined to say whether they agreed with other pro-war Democratic senators who said on Friday that they would have voted against the resolution had they known then what was contained in the Senate Intelligence Committee report.

"I'm not going to go back and answer hypothetical questions about what I would have done had I known this," Mr. Edwards said.

Mr. Kerry said: "The vote is not today and that's it. I completely agree with John Edwards."

It's one thing to be for the war. It's one thing to be against the war. It's one thing to have changed one's mind. But to not know? How can anybody vote for someone for president who doesn't know whether he should have supported the war? I'm not saying it should be an easy question; I'm saying that anybody who expects to be elected president should know the answer. This isn't 9/12/01; this is more than a year after the war in Iraq. We've known that the intelligence was faulty for quite a while. Has he not thought about it? Has he been so indecisive (er, I mean "nuanced") that he's still thinking about it?

There's another (and I suspect more likely) possibility: that Kerry does know the answer, but that he -- along with Edwards -- is too much of a political coward to say what he thinks. But is that really any better? There's prudence, and then there's irresponsibility. Again, how can one vote for a person who has so little courage that he won't even answer as fundamental a question as "Would you have gone to war?" If he won't take a risk in answering the question, a risk which is merely electoral, what will happen if he's president and he needs to attack Iran or North Korea? Can we trust him to make a decision?

And if we can't, can anybody justify a vote for him, no matter how unsatisfactory Bush is?

[ADDENDUM: Note that the title of this post refers to the candidates, not the bloggers I cited at the beginning of the post.]


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Comments (9)


By the way, how come that great internationalist, John Kerry, who demands that the US be subservient to the UN, take issue with the ICJ ruling on the Israel's wall? I though the rulings of the "World Court" were sacrosanct. Could it be that John Kerry would oppose the ruling for such a crass reason as getting the Jewish vote? I guess I must be missing the nuances of his position.

Scott Fischthal:

Uh, David, these guys are politicians. There are NO risks greater than electoral ones...


Good thoughts on the Kerry Edwards Iraq Evasion. Of course, It's a gamble for these guys to fall on either side of the retrospective-war-decision fence.

If the trials go well, and Saddam starts looking like a brutal dictator who murdered millions-- it pays to be in the pro-war camp. If things deteriorate for the new Iraqi gov't over the next few months-- the anti's have it.

Since, it's still too early to tell, the electorally safe answer is "maybe."

It's also an unprincipled, cowardly and politically opportunistic answer.

Expect them to come out of the closet, just as soon as they can be relatively certain on the outcome.

(By the way, I noticed you've got me on your blogroll -- but the link is old. How 'bout an update?)

Not that it's adequate, but at least a "Maybe; I haven't decided" could theoretically be honest. But "I'm not going to tell you because it's hypothetical" is not. After all, their criticism of Bush is based on that exact same hypothetical.

And sorry; I'll fix the blogroll.


I also do not really trust Kerry's decision making ability. I would like to know what he would have done after 9/11 if he was president at the time. Something tells me that he simply would have sat back and not done a thing. I think Bush going to war might have been the better decision, instead of simply laying back. The US did not take any action when the twin towers were attacked years earlier, maybe if they had the 9/11 attacks could have been prevented? At the moment .. I am not really in favor of Bush or Kerry.

I can understand the unhappiness with Bush, and if we weren't at war, I'd probably seriously consider the alternative of gridlock - sometimes I wish for it now, but I have serious reservations about someone who campaigns as a conservative (when not engaging in class warfare, race baiting, and hate speek), legislates (and has) as a socialist, and calls himself a moderate.


It would be interesting to consider the following question: "What are the essential differences between
potential presidential candidates on war on terror and Iraq?" Personally, I don't know the answer.


I don't know what difference it makes what Kerry thinks he would have done with 20-20 hindsight. If you asked George Bush what he would do as President if he was told the United States was under attack while he was reading a story to a group of school kids, I doubt he would say "finish the story". But that's what he did.

The question is entirely hypothetical since there are far too other things that might have been different if Kerry had been President to make a realistic response. Starting with the intelligence he received and the options he considered.

As for this indicating he wouldn't be willing to take the risk of attacking Iran and North Korea. Well isn't that's a good thing if there is no risk involved in not attacking them? At least for anyone who doesn't make money from waging wars.

In fact that may answer your question on Iraq - Kerry would not have gone to war if there was no risk from not doing so. I think that would have been a good thing.


Damn. I found this place because of a search, and stumbled upon some wonderful stuff. As far as Kerry v. Bush, though... oy. I won't waste your time with debate (since your readers all seem to agree with you, and I don't want to come off as a hobgoblin of annoyingness), but I will throw out a few randomish facts: Bush believes that 1)the world was made in 7 (count 'em! 7!) days 2)stem cell research is wrong, since it kills, um, tiny blobs of, uh, cells... and, 3)since I'm from NY and care deeply about nat'l security, it took Bush THREE DAYS (after he put down the goat book) to get to my town and bullhorn his way onto our sacred friggin graveyard. Like I said, I could debate 'till the metaphorical donkeys come home.... but I'm not here to talk smack. Just here to remind smart people of some overlooked necessities. Like caring a whit about dead Americans. Thanks.


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