Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
April 2, 2004
WAR: "[T]he evidence that we saw . . . was not real"

Lileks has already had ample fun with John Kerry's interview on MTV, but this passage (also excerpted on Best of the Web) caught my attention - Kerry explaining the evidence that convinced him that Saddam Hussein's regime had weapons of mass destruction:

[T]he evidence that we saw--we were given photographs, direct evidence--was not real. I mean, it just turned out not to be, not to pan out, so I think the vote was a correct one based on the evidence that everybody was given.

Kerry's in a hole on this one, since he has to explain how it is that he looked at the same evidence Bush did, came to the same conclusion, yet Bush is a Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire, yet Kerry is uniquely qualified to make decisions about war and peace. What he seems to suggest here before he backs away is not that the evidence wasn't all it was cracked up to be, but that it was somehow faked or intentionally doctored. That's what he wants people to believe - Bush gave me bad data - but it won't withstand minimal scrutiny and totally abdicates Kerry's own responsbility for reaching his own conclusions.

The fact is, some of the evidence did not, as Kerry said, "pan out." There's much more to the WMD story than that, of course - like Saddam's trail of deception of weapons inspectors - but if Kerry's story depends on the CIA fabricating phony photographs, he's not going to convince anybody outside the fever swamps.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:03 AM | War 2004 | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

I was amused by Taranto’s take on Kerry’s “stance” against “Cop Killer”-style rap lyrics (a real MTV-style issue):

“[A]t least Kerry is clear on one thing: Some rap lyrics are just beyond the pale. ‘I think when you start talking about killing cops or something like that, it bothers me.’ Wow, that's tough! Though actually, he immediately flip-flops again: ‘I understand, I'm still listening because I know that it's a reflection of the street and it's a reflection of life, and I understand all that.’ And then: ‘I'm not for the government censoring or stepping in. But I don't think it's inappropriate occasionally to talk about what you think is a standard or what you think is a value that is worth trying to live up to.’

He doesn't think it's inappropriate occasionally. Got that?”

Another profile in courage from the candidate who occasionally thinks its not inappropriate to take a position on any sort of issue.

Posted by: The Mad Hibernian at April 2, 2004 11:34 AM

Well, there is nothing shocking in Kerry's comments - his vote on the war was political machinations and had nothing to do with intelligence (pun sort of intended). But the same goes for Bush (even more so). The fact is that the "evidence" of WMDs was never credible and it was documentable at the time that the war vote was made. Some of the most laughable items were the photos of "mobile labs" which were just photos of mobile buildings (common place in the world today) that were determined to be illegal weapons labs solely on the basis of where they were located (and have since been proven to be anything but illegal weapons labs).

Posted by: seamus at April 2, 2004 11:44 AM

Kerry's not off the hook, but Bush did have quite a bit more processing power at his disposal than Kerry at the time to sift through bogus or flawed intelligence. He was (and is, kinda) the president, ya see.

Posted by: Demogenes Aristophanes at April 3, 2004 12:44 AM

Yup. Kerry screwed up by voting for the war. It was pure, calculated, cover-your-ass politics and a bad decision. Now, I realize that vote left potential Presidential candidates in an untenable position...but it definitely leaves Kerry a lot less room to effectively criticize the President.

I can remember reading plenty of contradicting evidence for every thing the Administration trotted out prior to the war, be it "yellowcake", aluminum tubes, or anything else. Presumably Kerry had access to all that info and more. He knew Bush was full of shit then, as surely as I did. If the Dems hadn't been so effectively rolled over that fall, he might have had some support for voting "no." I think everyone can agree the performance by the Democrats in the fall of 2002 is the worst performance or strategy by opposition party in a long time.

It boils down to two shades of a very similar argument. Kerry opponents want to say, "if he was fooled by the evidence going into this war, how can he be trusted to make those decisions as President?" Allusions to President Kerry being misled by foreign leaders like Saddam or Chirac are part of this theory. Kerry's only response to this is that he was fooled and lied to by HIS OWN PRESIDENT AND GOVERNMENT!! People who were not only on his side, but in his ranks. It should go with out saying that you should be able to believe your own President when he asks for your support for a war. (Not in actual practice, Kerry should have, and probably did, know better than to trust Bush. But this is a valid enough point to make to voters.)

The same people who want to stew Kerry in his own vote and claim he has no argument about being fooled, also want to absolve the Administration by blaming the CIA instead. This whole process was about interpretation and politicization of the intelligence and information than the actual intel itself.

Kerry needs to hammer Bush and the Administration on the misinterpretation and misrepresentation of intel to Congress, and itemize such occurances. Kerry can't nuance this position at all. He either needs to come out strong (stronger than he has) that Bush was/is a liar, that Bush capitalized on the tragedies of 9/11, has mismanaged the War on Terrorism, and has not actually for all his bluster made us any safer. He is not effectively delivering this message and it is the only way he can win on the national security issue.

I know Crank and the Hibernian won't agree with the substance of my argument, but I think you'll agree that's should be Kerry's approach. Kerry was not my first choice as a nominee, and his unclear positions and even more unclear articulation of those positions is the reason why.

Posted by: Mr Furious at April 5, 2004 1:53 AM
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