Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
October 7, 2004
POLITICS: Yesterday's Bush Speech
Yesterday morning's speech by the president had some good stuff along with some typical stump speech filler, but also a few disappointments:
I am sure many of you stayed up to watch the vice presidential debate last night.
Only Bush considers it "staying up" to watch a debate that ends at 10:30. The GOP should insist that Bush get to debate Kerry in the middle of the afternoon.
When I took office in 2001, the bubble of the '90s had burst, our economy was headed into recession. And because of the attacks of September the 11th, nearly a million jobs were lost in three months. It was a dangerous time for our economy. People were warning of potential deflation and depression. But I acted.
Translation: expect to hear about September 11 at the debate Friday, to heck with the agenda. But Bush shouldn't imply that the tax cuts came after 9/11.
He says the tax increase is only for the rich. You've heard that kind of rhetoric before. Rich hire lawyers and accountants for a reason: to stick you with the tab. The senator's not going to tax you, because we're going to win in November.
Yeah, those damn rich people. We Republicans hate them.
Senator Kerry's proposal would put us on the path to Clinton care.
The 2008 campaign has officially begun . . .
Over the years, Senator Kerry has looked for every excuse to constrain America's action in the world. These days he praises America's broad coalition in the Gulf War, but in 1991 he criticized those coalition members as, quote, shadow battlefield allies who barely carry a burden. Sounds familiar.
Yup. Great line. Never expect your political opponent to forget that you insulted his father.
The senator speaks often about his plan to strengthen America's alliances, but he's got an odd way of doing it. In the middle of the war, he's chosen to insult America's fighting allies by calling them window dressing and the coalition of the coerced and the bribed. The Italians who died in Nasiriyah were not window dressing. They were heroes in the war on terror. The British and the Poles at the head of the multinational divisions in Iraq were not coerced or bribed. They have fought and some have died in the cause of freedom. These good allies and dozens of others deserve the respect of all Americans, not the scorn of a politician. Instead, the senator would have America bend over backwards to satisfy a handful of governments with agendas different from our own. This is my opponent's alliance-building strategy: brush off your best friends, fawn over your critics.
Good knife-twisting: Kerry's treatment of our allies is his weakest point, particularly because Kerry thinks alliance-building is his strongest.
My opponent says he has a plan for Iraq. It should sound pretty familiar. It's already known as the Bush plan. Senator Kerry suggests we train Iraqi troops, which we've been doing for months. Just this week Iraqi forces backed by coalition troops fought bravely to take the city of Samarra from terrorists and Baathist insurgents. Senator Kerry's proposing that Iraq have elections. Those elections are already scheduled for January. He wants the U.N. to be involved in those elections. Well, the U.N. is already there. There was one element of Senator Kerry's plan that's a new element. He's talked about artificial timetables to pull our troops out of Iraq. He sent the signal that America's overriding goal in Iraq would be to leave even if the job isn't done. That may satisfy his political needs, but it complicates the essential work we're doing in Iraq. The Iraqi people need to know that America will not cut and run when their freedom is at stake. Our soldiers and Marines need to know that America will honor their service and sacrifice by completing the mission. And our enemies in Iraq need to know that they can never outlast the will of America.
This would be more persuasive if Bush hadn't botched this up so badly at the debate, but it does need to be said: other than Kerry's vascillating statements about exit strategies, the only difference is his claim that increasingly mysterious "allies" will bail us out.
I was a little disappointed that there's still no effort to use Kerry's record in the 1980s against him - yes, it's a long time ago. But most people now realize Reagan was right, and Kerry's wrongheadedness on this is the thread that ties together his 1970s peacenikery and leftism with his 1990s-present absorption with the quagmire of international process.
In the end, a speech is just a speech; what we really need to see is Bush bring his "A" game to the Friday Night Fight.