Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Strike One

Well, Day One of the new swing-for-the-fences John Kerry came and went, and it was ugly. He stepped up to the plate and hit one blooper after another.

"We want those troops home, and my goal would be to try to get them home in my first term."

Brilliant. Telegraph your strategy to the enemy. Remind him that all he has to do is wait you out, and he'll get everything he wants.

Meanwhile, serve notice to the friends in Iraq who have cast their lots with us that they are doomed; they'll never see democracy, or, if they do, it won't have anything to do with us. Come January, we plan to give a damn about nothing but getting home. They never should have trusted America. All the hope we held out to them was a hoax.

America can abandon Iraq, but those good people still have to live in that land once the fence around Fallujah falls, and the monsters feeding in there are let loose.

And, while you're at it, tell your troops that they're fighting in a cause destined to end in failure and retreat. Turn a daring blow for freedom into another Vietnam, so that every American killed there in the next four years dies in vain, and every tour of duty there that takes a soldier away from friends and family becomes a waste of time, and every veteran who comes home from the Middle East does so knowing that he fought in a lost cause, pronounced so by his own commander in chief, and that his legacy will be not victory and freedom in Iraq, but the shame of Abu Ghraib and children maimed in the "wrong" war.

He called the president's coalition in Iraq "the phoniest thing I ever heard."

Well, you walked right into that one, John. Your opponent has been waiting for you to say that. Cheney's counter-punch-line reply was written months ago. You should have seen it coming. There are as-yet undiscovered Stone Age tribes in the Amazon jungle who saw it coming. Paris Hilton saw it coming.

"Demeaning our allies is an interesting approach for someone seeking the presidency," Cheney said. "They deserve our respect, not insults."

Here's some free speechwriting advice. Next time, John, say something like this:

Like many Americans, I'm deeply disturbed about what we've learned about the way intelligence was manipulated within this administration during the build-up to the Iraq war, and by the lack of planning for post-war Iraq. At the time Congress gave its authorization to that war, our decision was a difficult call, but the balance of the evidence presented to us made the case that this invasion was in America's interest.

Now, make no mistake, the overthrow of Saddam Hussein buried one of the most brutal regimes in modern history. Our fighting men and women should be justly proud of what they accomplished, winning a tremendous victory in a difficult fight. I salute them.

And I salute our allies who stood by us, who fought hard and well, and who have helped us in the difficult work of rebuilding Iraq and bringing the sweet taste of freedom to a people who long have thirsted for it. We all should remember these nations and peoples in our prayers and remember them when they need our aid. Many nations, like many Americans, opposed this venture out of honest doubts. But others did so for sheer spite, and for selfish reasons. Like the U.S. Marines, America should strive to show itself to the world as, "no greater friend, no worse enemy."

And to the Iraqi people, I say, we will be as brothers to you, if I win this election. We will not forget how long you dreamed of liberation. And I will not let the wolves who have slunk in among you rob you of the freedoms that we have helped you purchase, adding our blood to yours as the cost.

Yet I remain deeply concerned about what this administration has done. The appearance of a cynical manipulation of information does terrible damage to American's faith in their government. The unnecessary high-handedness of our diplomacy makes every international venture that much more difficult for Americans. It leaves our allies vulnerable for the very fact of having supported us, which we ought to regard as intollerable. It risks all the good work we have accomplished, and are planning in Iraq. And the lack of foresight, to secure the victory once it was won, has left our military men and women in danger that could have been avoided.

I don't want any U.S. president, of any party, to have the ability to deceive the American people about matters so grave. And I want my nation to be a good citizen in the world, without compromise of its own dignity and rights. I believe that goal is best accomplished when our nation respects its neighbors, even in disagreement. And I want the government of the United States to work as hard, and as well, for victory as its soldiers and sailors and Marines do. It's the least we can do for them.

I want to bring home the American troops who have fought so hard and so well in Iraq -- but I want them to come home with every degree of dignity, and every assurance of victory, that they deserve as our son and daughters, who have done well the task we sent them to do.

And regardless of the connection, or lack of it, between Saddam and al Qaida, America has not forgotten the enemy who attacked us on Sept. 11, 2001. I have not forgotten. Islamist terrorism is a complex and deadly foe, and I will not serve a day as your president without working to defeat it, to protect America, and to starve that serpent of new recruits. My plans will be informed, and they will be bold and aggressive. Neither President Bush nor I can tell you precisely how that war will be fought four years from now, because wars are won by resourceful nations with flexible power. Nor should we tell you the detailed specifics of our immediate battle-plans, lest we inadvertently inform our enemies of them at the same time. I believe the American people understand this.