Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
October 8, 2004
POLITICS: The Kryptonite Stays Home
As has been pointed out in numerous places, most of John Kerry's "plan" for Iraq involves claiming to do the same things Bush claims he's already doing. Yes, partisans on each side can argue over what's actually getting done and how much more could be (see here on the latest iteration of the Bush plan), although if Kerry thinks he can get more done faster and better just by pouring more resources into Iraq, he's underestimated how much more difficult he will have made the task of raising those resources after campaigning on a platform of "we should be spending that money at home instead" and "we shouldn't be opening firehouses in Baghdad and closing them at home."
The key to how Kerry tries to bridge that gap, of course, is by claiming he can obtain - and the president should have obtained - more foreign support, including the blessing of key players at the UN. But there is an enormous vulnerability there for Kerry: a skilled debater could expose the childish naivete behind Kerry's faith in the European and UN cavalry, especially after he was finally forced to concede that the French and Germans won't be sending troops. Likewise, the Duelfer report from the Iraq Survey Group report has revealed the extent to which the inspections process, the UN Oil-for-Food program and our "allies" in France, Russia and Germany were hopelessly compromised by corruption and bribery (see here, here, here, here and here for starters). Roger Simon explains why this is so fatal to Kerry, whose worldview simply can't survive contact with these scandals.
But I fear that Bush will never use them. The irony is that Kerry has this great reputation for diplomacy when all he does is defecate all over our allies, while Bush is supposed to be Mr. Ugly American, yet Bush is the one who often pulls his domestic political punches out of what can only be concern that his remarks will harm our ability to work with other countries. If Bush spent tonight working some riffs from Roger Simon and Mark Steyn and Ralph Peters about the French, the Germans, the Russians the UN - their military impotence, their corruption - he could leave Kerry's signature issue in a smoldering pile of ash. But then Bush would have to go back and work with Chirac, Putin, Schroder, and Annan, so instead he plays nice.
Sometimes being the only grownup in the room stinks.