Sunday, October 10, 2004

Kerry's character

Hugh Hewitt has been running another virtual symposium this weekend. The question is "What do Kerry's answers to today's press inquiries tell us about Kerry's worldview and character?" The various entries are listed here.

The press conference in question was last Thursday in Englewood, CO, where Senator Kerry read a prepared statement about the Duelfer report, and then took a few questions from the press corps.

While there are photos from the Englewood stop at Kerry's site, I can't find the text of his statement/speech there, although Senator Edward's jab is posted. Fortunately, C-SPAN: 2004 VOTE has a 15' video clip ("Sen. Kerry (D-MA) Statement on Iraq & Weapons of Mass Destruction Report (10/07/2004)") so you can hear what the man actually said. There are snippets in the press reports (See AP newswire,NY Times, Canon City Daily Record, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

The first thing I noticed about the speech and the Q&A is that Kerry's worldview revolves around the meme "Bush Lied" with a secondary theme of "Bush always makes the wrong decision." He has a grand opinion of all the "advice" he claims to have given the President about how to conduct affairs in Iraq, but never tells you exactly what that advice was. Critics have been having a field day digging up his old speeches, statements, and interviews. Bill at INDCJournal, cites Kerry's speech in October 2002 about not invading Iraq soon enough. No concern about a "rush to war" there, nor extra time for weapons inspectors:
For example, John Kerry's newest talking point claims that President Bush took his "eye off the ball" by raising the Iraq issue after September 11th, the "ball" being the exclusive hunt for Osama bin Laden and the elements of Al Qaeda that remained in Afghanistan. So then tell me - why, in his October 9, 2002 speech just prior to his vote affirming the authorization for the use of force, did John Kerry criticize the Bush Administration for not moving sooner against Iraq, after September 11th?
Given the specificity and inaccuracy of these statements about Saddam's continuing WMD stockpiles and capability, isn't it fair for Kerry to make the assessment that he also "misled" the American people in a speech on the floor of the Senate?

I know that this isn't exactly news to most of my readers, but John Kerry's new criticisms of the Bush Administration's focus on Iraq, if not the particulars of the execution of that focus, are simply not credible to the point of being patronizing, outright deceptions. Lies, even.

Which brings me to point #2 about Kerry's speech in Englewood. He said the following (my transcription with start times noted):
[6:54] "Mr. President, the American people deserve more than spin about this war. They deserve facts that represent reality, not carefully polished arguments and points that are simply calculated to align with a preconceived perception. Sending men and women into combat is the gravest responsibility of all, and asking the American people for their truth[?] with respect to that requires that you tell them the truth." [...]

[8:48] "There is a clear difference between President Bush and me: you will always get the truth from me, in good times and in bad times. And I will never mislead the American people. The President has not met that standard."
John Kerry says he'll never lie nor mislead the public. Really?

Is that why he keeps bringing up General Shinseki as a martyr, claiming he had to retire after telling the President he needed more troops to take Iraq? General Shinseki, the Army Chief of Staff, retired on schedule; the comment about troop strength was in answer to a question at a Congressional hearing. (See Jed Babbin in NRO, 6 MAR 03, and GOP research page)

Is that why he selectively quoted from the Duelfer report saying there were no WMDs in Iraq "because sanctions were working", while conveniently ignoring the report's documentation that the French and Russians were working hard to undermine those sanctions at the UN? (See Claudia Rosett, BlogsforBush, Powerline, and Instapundit.)

Is that why the SwiftVets were able to prove that Senator Kerry's oft-repeated "Christmas in Cambodia" story, the one he claimed was seared--seared into his memory, was a fable?

I'm sorry Senator Kerry. I just can't believe you. You confuse facts with urban legends. You accuse the President of spin when you are a grandmaster practitioner. Your preconceived perception that "Bush lies" taints all of your highly polished speeches and debates. You tell us the war in Iraq is going badly and ignore or denigrate everything that is going well. You tell us diplomacy is important in winning allies while disrespecting ("dissing") the ones we're working with now. You confuse campaign rhetoric (e.g. "we will create more jobs") for a plan of action. You manage to agree with both sides of every issue by using the magic word "but". The only vision you've given us is 20/200 hindsight, with blurry assertions that you would have done the job better than the incumbent.

I want a proven leader as President. John Kerry, by his words and deeds over the last 30+ years, doesn't make the cut.