Tuesday, August 31, 2004


That would be the sound of Gov. Schwarzenegger "getting all of it" while hitting a 22-minute home run tonight.

Dems, you can have all the celebrities you want--we'll take Arnold. More than just a celebrity, he's a professional who has now made it his life's work to improve the lives of tens of millions of people DIRECTLY! He was impassioned, he was intelligent, he was funny and he played the crowd like a fiddle. And more importantly, he actually endorsed a candidate rather than simply slander a candidate, and he personified class. Try to beat that!

What a difference a day makes

Two items to note in this post:

a) It's getting a lot of play in the major media, so I'm going to write about Bush saying we can't win the war on terror in an interview with Matt Lauer. Here's an excerpt from the interview:

"Lauer: “You said to me a second ago, one of the things you'll lay out in your vision for the next four years is how to go about winning the war on terror. That phrase strikes me a little bit. Do you really think we can win this war on terror in the next four years?
President Bush: “I have never said we can win it in four years.”
Lauer: “So I’m just saying can we win it? Do you see that?”
President Bush: “I don't think you can win it. But I think you can create conditions so that those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world –- let's put it that way. I have a two pronged strategy. On the one hand is to find them before they hurt us, and that's necessary. I’m telling you it's necessary. The country must never yield, must never show weakness [and] must continue to lead. To find al-Qaida affiliates who are hiding around the world and … harm us and bring ‘em to justice –- we're doing a good job of it. I mean we are dismantling the al-Qaidaas we knew it. The long-term strategy is to spread freedom and liberty, and that's really kind of an interesting debate. You know there's some who say well, ‘You know certain people can't self govern and accept, you know, a former democracy.’ I just strongly disagree with that. I believe that democracy can take hold in parts of the world that are now non-democratic and I think it's necessary in order to defeat the ideologies of hate. History has shown that it can work, that spreading liberty does work. After all, Japan is our close ally and my dad fought against the Japanese. Prime Minister Koizumi, is one of the closest collaborators I have in working to make the world a more peaceful place.

So. . .Bush says we can't win the war--in the same breath that he spells out how he will fight a war that results in rousing the terrorists from their preferred locations, and leads to the spread of democracy. Which, to me, sounds like a plan for victory in the war on terror.

Listen, was it a silly thing for him to say? Absolutely. But it is defendable (both in terms of content and context) just as it is attackable. Again, not the face I personally would like the President to put on in public during convention week. . .

Item #2: sometimes during my days off I am sort of not-watching whatever shows might be on the TV. Today it was "the View"--hey, don't blame me, I just live here! Anyhow, one of the guests was Rudy Giuliani, and I gotta tell ya': as good as he was last night, he was overmatched today. To be fair, the surroundings were entirely different and he was getting grilled by two people (Star and Joy--I'm ashamed to know their names) who barely let him get in a word edgewise. He clearly got flustered, as can happen when a guest spot on a show suddenly turns into a humor-free roast. He did make some good points, such as getting Joy to grudgingly admit that Lincoln's reasons for fighting the civil war were worthwhile. But the point wasn't allowed to sink in before Star came back from the other side of him with some other brouhaha-stirring accusation. Now in the big picture of things, I'm sure the viewership of The View isn't likely to be swayed one way or the other by what Giuliani said or didn't say today, but it would have been great for the hero of last night to go into the other side's lair and at least trade blows with them.

If they'd let ME have the keys. . .

I would make sure that THIS guy had a chance, if he wanted it, to speak at the RNC. Possibly even introduce the President on Thursday??? And, not to tell this veteran what to say, but wouldn't it be great if the following words found their way out of his lips:

In response to Cleland's faith in Kerry: "Some candidates may have sought to provide hope to those in uniform 30-plus years ago--but the actions of today mean more than the shadows of yesterday. President Bush provides me and my fellow soldiers hope in the battle we fight NOW--and his compassion and honesty let us know that we have reason to believe in him as our commander in chief!"

In response to Michael Moore--directly!: "Mr. Moore, you make a habit of asking those in leadership positions if they would send their son or daughter off to die for the war in Iraq. Mr. Moore, I am here to answer you--I signed myself up to be in the armed forces of this country, not my mother. I took the oath to support and defend the President and the Constitution of the United States, not my father. And although my death would cause great grief and sadness to those that love me, yes, I would give my life up for our cause in Iraq and throughout the world--would you?"

But that's just me. . .

Impressions of Rudy Giuliani at the RNC

These will just be some quick overviews, as Mr. Giuliani's speech was too lengthy for point-by-point analysis:

-- First and foremost, he seemed to be enjoying himself. And that was a good tone for him to take, as the tribute he gave to the tragedy of 9/11 could have left the entire address somber. In Giuliani's performance last night, you saw the personification of the war on terror: from initial shock, to grief, to the call to action, and on towards the end result--hope. And it was Pres. Bush that put us in this hopeful mood so soon after the terrorists shook the nation's foundations--and Giuliani made sure that the credit was given to where it belongs;

-- A great statement from him as to why the convention should be held in New York City: "we're open for business, stronger than ever, and we're not going to let the threat of terrorism stop us from leading our lives";

-- Some very funny digs at a number of things, most notably Edwards' two America's, Kerry "shifting positions" on key issues, and the lack of decorum showed at certain Democratic events so far this election season. And they weren't that subtle of digs, either--talk about calling a spade a spade!;

-- my personal favorite topic: the weakness of Europe in dealing with the terrorist threats as they have evolved over 30-plus years. From his prepared remarks (so the actual speech may have varied in exact wording): "terrorists learned they could intimidate the world community and too often the response, particularly in Europe, was 'accommodation, appeasement and compromise.' And worse, the terrorists also learned that their cause would be taken more seriously, almost in direct proportion to the barbarity of the attack.Terrorist acts became a ticket to the international bargaining table" Kinda exposes Kerry's "What does Europe think?" approach to international negotiations as a foolish way to ensure security in a world where terrorism is the biggest threat to stability;

-- of course, Giuliani drew strong contrasts between the convictions of Pres. Bush and the apparent "wind-blown" ideologies of John Kerry. Giuliani did it with humor, but that didn't absent from the painted picture the sharp edges such a comparison between the two candidates always draws;

-- already, on night ONE, we hear stories about the MAN behind the office. Giuliani related the great story of the New York construction worker that had the President's ear--and then some--in the wake of Sept. 11. THAT is the human quality that Bush possesses in spades over his rival, and that message came out on night ONE, whereas the Dems' attempts to paint the Kerry behind the suit repeatedly fell short throughout their entire week;

-- Money quote: "I believed then and I believe now that Saddam Hussein, who supported global terrorism, slaughtered hundreds of thousands of his own people, permitted horrific atrocities against women, and used weapons of mass destruction, was himself a weapon of mass destruction";

-- Inquisitive observation: is it an "attack" on the candidate if you're using words from his own mouth? I mean, all you're doing is simply repeating his stance on the issues (or in Kerry's case, stanceS)--is that really "negative" politics?

Overall, an effective speech. I do hope that the time over-run that happened last night does not become a trend during the convention (although the lack of major media coverage allows for such a thing to happen).

Big picture: Last night featured leadership and the war on terror. Tonight we get the Governator and the First Lady--look for some more "the man behind the jacket" stuff as well as an appeal to the moderates in the country. I guess that leaves Cheney as the economy guy--which may not be his strongest suit, but is there anything that guy can't talk about? I look forward to hearing Arnold speak tonight--if there's one thing I learned from watching him in California, he knows how to work a crowd.

Impressions of Sen. McCain at the RNC

Having seen little of Sen. John McCain from the stump, I do not know what his typical "delivery" is for major speeches. I will venture this thought: I have seen more impassioned speakers before.

However, even without oratory fireworks, he managed to do a couple of good things in his endorsement of Pres. Bush last night:

1. Favorite line: on the war in Iraq, "Our choice wasn't between a benign status quo and the bloodshed of war. It was between war and a graver threat." A good framing of the war in Iraq--the Bush team could learn from that!

2. Contrary to the entire DNC, where an uninformed observer might think that the United States was the only country fighting against terrorists, McCain stressed that Bush had gathered quite an IMPORTANT group of allies to help in the war on Terror. Pakistan was highlighted, and for good reason, as recent events have shown that the help of Musharraf has been critical to the successes we've had against terrorism. And he said Republicans agree with Democrats who argue that diplomatic, financial and intelligence successes will be needed to prevail against terrorism. The difference to be drawn, although McCain didn't, is that such tactics need to be part of a strategy that also incorporates actions to keep our foes on the run.

3. McCain saluted Bush because "he has been tested and has risen to the most important challenge of our time." As was pointed out in the commentator booth on FoxNews later, this was McCain, a leading figure among veterans, figuratively saluting Bush for actions in response to difficult challenges--as opposed to Kerry, who physically saluted. . .the delegates?. . . because they ordered him to be there? One of the "salutes" carries much more respect and authenticity to it--I'll let you figure out which one I think it is.

Monday, August 30, 2004

The Kerry Strategery

Perhaps you recognize my attempt at literogenesis from the frequent Saturday Night Live skits during the 2000 Presidential election. The cast used to enjoy poking fun at then-Gov. Bush's frequent mangling of the English language. I use it today to poke fun at another mangling currently underway in the public eye, although this one has almost nothing to do with George Bush.

So I'm thinking that how a campaign is run says a lot about the type of administration we might see the candidate lead. That is, after all, why we have campaigns--not just to get to know the candidate's take on the issues, but also to see how the "team" mobilizes to the direction of the candidate. And I realize that the Swift Boat ads aren't the only thing going on in this campaign, but I think that they serve as a good focal point to see the Kerry strategists in action, since it was the first time this campaign season that the Kerry team didn't really set the agenda for the news cycle. And since unforeseen things will happen if you occupy the highest office in the land, knowing how a "team" responds to these types of situations is key. And so far, I'm giving Kerryists a big thumb's down!

First of all, big-picture talk here: you have to realize when you are in a "battle". I think from early on, the SBVT presented themselves as a team that was decidedly and publicly against Kerry being put in the White House, and they were "attacking" the most important part of Kerry's justification to being given the reigns of our military as Commander-in-Chief. To me, that smacks of a battle--and I hope, in the name of REALITY, that it appeared the same way to the Kerryists. If they didn't see it as a battle on the horizon, then I think that says all you need to know about camp Kerry. For the sake of argument, we'll assume that at least somebody in the Kerry campaign realized that the Swiftees were a real threat to their candidate, which allows me to proceed as follows:

All right, here's how I think you "fight" a battle, in simple terms:
1) identify your foes;
2) identify your friends that will help you in the battle;
3) identify the strengths and weaknesses of both groups;
4) try to set and/or respond to the tactical situation so that each engagement maximizes (as much as you can) the strengths of you/your allies while exposing the weaknesses of your foes; 5) re-assess the situation so you're not fighting yesterday's battle today; and
6) know when to go for the kill or, having failed in the proper waging of war, when to ask for terms of settlement.

If I were a Kerry strategist, applying these principles to the Swift Boat attacks the day they were initially released a month ago:

1) foes: the allegations leveled by the Swiftees
2) friends: the major media; the written records; the lack of the nation's desire to re-live the VietNam war
3) a) foe's strengths: theses are some pretty solid, "stand-up-to-the-smell-test" assertions; the "team" is passionate about their cause and knowledgeable about the facts
b) foe's weaknesses: limited ability to get the "message" heard by the masses
c) friends' strengths: major media="control" of the information that reaches the masses; the written records=a foundation to repudiate charges that might be made; nation's desire=a willingness of the people to dismiss this whole thing--unless it gets interesting. . .
d) friends' weaknesses: the press is beholden to the call for cash, so their need for survival sometimes outweighs their political agenda; the nation's desire for the truth could be cumbersome if enough people start asking questions

I won't get into the exact fighting of the battle so far, but from what I list above, it would seem to me that Kerry needed to maximze the press' ability to fight the Swiftee ads, while sticking with the facts that are on the record--AND do it all quickly so that the public loses interest and , led by the major media, moves on to something else.

But here's what happened: a) the Kerry camp goes black, leaving the press to fight the battle themselves without any help from the "leader" they're supposed to be helping. By the time Kerryists finally became engaged in the field, the press' absolute control of the "information" field was challenged--strongly--by the internet. If Kerry had come out to HIS press from the word go, then the major media would have driven the cycle every day; instead, the major media was forced to play catch-up to the young, energetic blogosphere that was literally whirring out a new "inconsistency" every day (at least). While the blogosphere will never reach EVERYBODY, the input they have had to the process increased significantly during the Kerry press blackout. Even then, the press had fought a valiant fight for "their guy"--and then Kerry decides to address the Swiftee charges. And to fans of the major media who hadn't even heard of the Swiftee charges, the credibility of the major media is ripped. So Kerry's actions have served to weaken his greatest strength--exactly NOT the way to engage in this sort of affair.

b) The Kerryists have jumped all over his own record in the last two weeks, so much so that even camp Kerry can't know from day to day what the stance is on such issues as the first Purple Heart, the Christmas in Cambodia, etc. Finally Thursday, Kerry used a pretty good tactic: the record was certified by the Navy 30-odd years ago--don't you think they know what they're talking about? And that would have been a great response to the first Swift boat ad--but in the midst of Kerry's return from the blackout, the Swiftees had moved on. (see strategic step #5) Recently they've attacked Kerry for saying he was in Cambodia (which there are no Navy records to support Kerry's claims) and for his Senate testimony in 1971 (which Navy records won't support, either). Your records won't help you there, Senator--and once again the Swiftees are driving the news cycle.

c) No matter whether you're pro-Bush or pro-Kerry, there's one thing you can't argue: Kerry's response time to the Swiftees is ridiculously slow. Listen, if the first Swiftee ad was wrong, just flat out wrong, why wait two weeks to address it? If it's a lie two weeks after it surfaced, it's a lie the first day it surfaced. WHAT WAS KERRY WAITING ON??? The fact that Kerry has not factually defended his record, but rather counter-attacked the group levying the charges against him, lends credibility to the Swiftee attack. Not to mention, the delaying tactic was a key ingredient in the failures I wrote about in the paragraphs above.

SO--not exactly the right way to deal with the Swiftees when they came to light, right? Let's update the timeline now, to last week. Remember, the background has changed, due almost entirely to Kerry's horrible handling of the inital "outburst" from the Swiftees:

1) Foes: Swiftees, the record (increasingly so, at least), the blogosphere
2) Friends: the major media
3) a) Foes strengths vs. weaknesses:
Swiftees--ever-increasing credibility vs. limited funds to get the message out
the record -- hard-as-nails evidence of things Kerry did/said he did vs. umm. . .I don't know
the blogosphere--rapid gathering and dissemination of information vs. a small audience to get the message out
b) Friends' strengths vs. weaknesses:
the major-media: still the #1 way to get a message out, and they are leaning towards helping Kerry vs. slow-moving news cycles that can seem outdated within a short period of time

All right, here's how you fight this battle, Mr. Senator: you use the "volume" deficit in "message-delivering capabilities" to your advantage. You have a sit-down with a media representative (you should find more than a few that are willing to be nice to you) and clarify things for the record. You seek to answer all sorts of questions, and even offer to turn the event into a Q&A with reps from the other side (primarily, the blogosphere). It may be painful, but if you're honest and leave no question left unanswered, you put this whole nonsense behind you. This maximizes the major media's play to help you (as well as helping THEM in the way that matters most--ratings!!!), you take control of the news cycle again, and you take away the main point of contention to "independent" observers who have watched this thing unfold: that you have run and hid from the allegations rather than stand up for yourself.

BUT. . .here's what we see from the Kerry camp: a message from their #2 (Edwards), putting the onus on Bush to stop the Swiftee madness, at the same time that the press--looking for ANY sign of life from the Kerry camp--makes a big deal out of some Kerry backers going to the President with a letter asking him to make the Swiftees stop. In other words: the Kerry camp puts stock in Bush helping them (Bush is not really a Kerry ally in this battle, and was unlikely to respond to this request), while also putting the major media on the scene to watch the "right" send a counter-proposal to Kerry asking him to leave the Swiftees alone (this action would have received NO play in the major media--had they not been there following Cleland and Rassman)--all of this with limited public appearances from the #1 candidate himself. So once again, the "middle-of-the-road" observer of this process has MORE reason to question the "realism" of the Kerry team, AND the major media is put in a position where it isn't really making points for Kerry.

That's zero-for-two--which means he was ineffective in dealing with the problem at hand EVEN THOUGH he was given one more chance to play than he would be given as President. Such behaviors aren't the way to build confidence in the voters. Camp Kerry needs to be thinking LONG and HARD as to how they are going to respond if the SBVT allegations still have traction following the RNC.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

too much reading to do for this blogging biz

Ah, the blogosphere is alive these days! Who paid for what ad, who knew about what ad, a dog that deserved a Bronze Star (or at least someone deserved it for rescuing the dog), and more evasiveness and back-pedalling attacks than you can shake a stick at! I'm so caught up in the reading of articles posted on the web these days that I can barely get movement from my own thought train--and when I do, it's normally to comment on something that another reader has posted about an article he/she has read. I will point you to some gems I've read of late, and encourage you to take the time to look at them:

And for the record, I think that Kerry's representation of his war record in his several years as an elected public servant is the focus that these historical fact-finding "missions" should be taking--not so much "what did you do then", but "what have you said/allowed to be said lately that deals with what you did then". As that backdrop, I give you article uno:

which may become my personal favorite, depending on how things run their course. From Joshua at View from a height (shout out to the RMA!), who details how Kerry reacted to Adm. Boorda's wearing of thought-to-be-unauthorized devices on his ribbons back in 1996. Now I must warn you from the start that my info here is incomplete, because I have not paid to read the entire article Joshua mentions from the Boston Herald (that's a line I don't want to cross--makes me seem too serious about this hobby, you know? But if you're interested in paying $2.95 to see the full story, and therefore get a better understanding of the context from which the following is derived, go here), and I try to hold judgement on these things until I have seen the SOURCE itself. From what Joshua posted, however, I will present the following: Kerry stated in 1996 that it is wrong to improperly represent your battlefield exploits--sufficiently wrong, in fact, to question an individual's ability to hold a leadership position. Now, I'll stop short of totally echoing Joshua's article here, because he mostly deals with Kerry's own "device controversy", which personally I find little traction for following up on. But the quotes Joshua posts of Kerry's interview with the Boston Herald on May 18, 1996, make me believe that Kerry gave some sound bites then that may come back to haunt him today; I'm waiting for this interview to get some more play in the major media (no, I'm not holding my breath);

Article #2 comes from my new favorite blog, Captain's Quarters. I'm giving it the tab over Hugh Hewitt for a couple reasons: greater frequency of posting, the fact that you can comment on their posts (although that may be going away, thanks to the rudeness of some who have commented before), and I think CQ is slightly more balanced than Mr. Hewitt. HH does great research, to be sure--but sometimes he's just a little hard-edged for me. But that is besides the point: the article of interest to me deals with another Kerryist trying to set the record straight about Kerry's first Purple Heart. All that this spokesman accomplished, however, was to refute other charges of the Kerry camp and add credibility to the testimony of a member of the SBVT which is at odds with the story offered up by Kerry. Two things jump out at me: a) Kerry's people are doing more damage to the candidate than the Swiftees are, by far. The more they open their mouths and spout out inconsistencies, the more life this story gains. If he (Kerry) would just come clean, release records and have a good interview (it should be an interview by panel, in my opinion--there are just too many inconsistencies for one interviewer to be able to address), this whole thing disappears off the front pages, and maybe disappears entirely in a couple days. Either that, or finally just ignore the Swiftees entirely (doesn't seem like a winner to me, but what do I know)--either way, you've got to realize these little "truth lunches" aren't helping matters, Senator; and 2) again with the sending spokespeople out to rescue you from the bed you've made? Listen, Americans want accountability in their leadership. I can't even tell you how many different places and ways this is evident, but you needn't look to far to see that this is a true statement. But Kerry, who decided to make his military service so much a part of his campaign, has been AWOL when legitimate questions are raised about that service. Again, these tactics speak volumes about Kerry's leadership and decision-making TODAY--it's not about 30 years ago, it's about today, or even more appropriately, it's about tomorrow. Sometimes a leader just has to go it himself-- this increasingly appears to be one of those times, and Kerry hasn't "stood up to be counted" yet.

Thirdly, and just as a side note: I engaged via the blogosphere recently in a "debate" dealing with the abuses at Abu Ghraib. My "opposition" seemed to feel that instances like these show that the real problem with the military is that it's an "upside down culture, that which says that all are the enemy, and they are all less than human, and not worthy of basic rights." That description brought out the debater in me. The bottom line is this: there is a big difference behind the "culture" of the military and the shortcomings of small groups of individuals who fail to fall in-line with the teachings of the organization. The abusive soldiers acted badly; their supervisors failed miserably to supervise; the tactical leadership (read: on-site leadership, NOT the Pentagon) failed because of poor orders from a sloppily-understood and/or practiced chain of command. And there will be individuals held responsible not just for what they did (in the case of the abusers) and what they didn't do (in the case of the supervisors), but also for what they SHOULD have done (in the case of the on-scene leadership). So to anybody who might agree that the "culture" of the military is the reason why these things happen, I ask this: IF the military were so culturally inclined to treat enemies in a manner devoid of basic rights, would ANYBODY be getting into any trouble at all for Abu Ghraib (much less people who didn't even directly "participate" in the acts)? My fellow debater mentioned My Lai, Tailhook, and the painting of racist jargon on bombs to be dropped on the targets in Afghanistan as examples of "soldiers gone bad". But My Lai and Tailhook have been the cornerstone of TONS of training in today's military! And the result? How about the lack of a My Lai, Tailhook, etc since those initial occurences. And don't get me wrong, Abu Ghraib is a travesty and an embarrassment to our Armed Forces. But I doubt that something like it will happen again in our lifetimes. The leadership of the military will not allow whatever short-circuit in logic/duty that occurred in AG to spread anywhere else. That is as much of a testament to the "culture" of the military as anything else--at least in my mind.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Starting to come together

I haven't always been a huge fan of how the President "presents" himself, whether it be through informal dialogue with the press or through press junkets announcing some grand stategy movement. I've let it go before, mostly because the substance of these less-than-kodak-moments has been to my liking. He may not be the most polished politician, but his is an inspirational leader.

But lately, his presentation has really started to "take it up another level". His campaign seems to be the pace-setting one, and his performance publicly has been pretty solid. Some highlights:

-- two weeks ago, when even some folks from the "right" (okay, so I'm referring to Sen. McCain here) were asking for the President to denounce the Swift Boat Vets ads, the President clearly stated that ALL soft-money (read: 527) ads should be banned. It may have appeared weak at the time, but a) it's really the only recourse he has, without making a mockery of the first amendment and the campaign finance laws; and b) it's the only position he could have had at THAT time that will stand up to the new wave of liberal 527s that are apparently about to flood the airwaves. Not to mention, by means of comparison/contrast with the other candidate, this 527 thing shows some real differences between the two men: Kerry cries foul on ads that are negative towards him and "picks and chooses" his disagreements with the several millions of dollars that Kerry-backing groups have thrown/are throwing into their ads, while Bush says that all of the ads of this type should be abolished. One thinks that what's "fair" amounts to "what is best for his own interests", while the other believes that "fair" should be a standard for the entire system. Me-first vs. big-picture--it doesn't get much more Kerry vs. Bush than that.;

(side note here: notice how McCain hasn't said much about the second Swiftee ad? I'm sure that Kerry was hoping to have the "watchdog"'s dislike of all Swiftee ads in his back pocket as he made the allegations of lying and smearing onto this group, but McCain has gone silent so far on the ad that has been running over the weekend. I think this says something. . .and I think that it's not good for Kerry)

-- while Kerry spends time and money INEFFECTIVELY dealing with the SBVTs allegations (just release your darn records and let the verdict fall where it will, for crying out loud!), the Bush campaign starts hammering on "the issues" that Kerry supposedly would like to make this election about--specifically, taxes. This is a very informative ad, detailing not just Kerry's history of supporting tax hikes, but also placing that history against the promises his campaign has made. The question it indirectly asks voters: do you trust the main stimulus for the economy's recovery in the hands of the man who has a history of seeking to take more of YOUR money from your pockets? I think this will be a main theme as we reach the convention, as the "2%" difference that Kerry STRESSED in his convention will be analyzed (at it's face value), questioned (as to whether or not the candidate actually means this is the ONLY group that will see it's taxes upped, AS WELL AS whether or not the strategy would even work if it is implemented) and attacked as a poor tool to further economic recovery;

-- The president took the initiative last week by announcing a re-shuffling of troop deployments that will better address the security needs of the world we live in now. Kerry automatically called the whole plan hogwash--of course, he fails to have a counterproposal handy. Two things about this: a) I think that Bush's plan is solid, dealing with the threats--and the possible responses to those threats--of the future; and b) the fact that Kerry's response leads one to believe that he would keep the status quo shows a lack of understanding that the world today is different than it was 5, 10, or even 30 years ago. Either that, or his lack of a counterproposal shows that he hasn't really thought about how he would shape our forces as Commander in Chief --and it's too darn late in the game for him to have failed to think about that!

-- And all the while, the President has made himself immensely accessible. He appeared on the talk show circuit, he still regularly answers questions in his public appearances--he's a guy who actually wants to talk TO you about the state of this country. Kerry, meanwhile, hasn't held a public Q&A in a loooooong time. And even worse, he hasn't allowed his Band of Brothers to answer questions the public is dying to ask. I mean, one of the calling cries of the Dem Convention was to spend 3 minutes with the men who served with Kerry--and now Kerry either a) won't let us (in the case of his BoB), or b) doesn't think they served with him (in the case of the SBVT). So who are we gonna spend time with in order to figure out what kind of leader he is? Kerry himself? Then LET US ASK YOU SOME QUESTIONS!!!

All in all, I think the Prez's campaign is rounding into shape nicely. I look forward to the further assertion of the message of "ownership" at the convention (I bet Reagan himself would be proud of that strategy), as well as the stressing of the "positive" campaign that Bush/Chaney has run thus far. Funny--I thought "positive campaigning" was a "policy" of the Dems? That sure lasted long!

Sunday, August 22, 2004

still not exactly where the debate needs to be

I just finished watching the Chris Wallace Show on Fox. Typical of Sunday news programs, there was a panel on the end of the show. Today's panel had Brit Hume, Bill Kristol, Juan Williams and some gal who I didn't see speak too much. The topic (surprise of surprises): the Swift Boat Vets ads.

My take: Brit Hume is very good--and so is Bill Kristol. In fact, Mr. Kristol brought about a good answer to Williams' charge that if this were a debate of the candidate's actions thirty years ago, Kerry is the hand's-down winner. Kristol's take: the President would welcome any debate that focuses on the actions of the two candidates in 1971. Granted, Bush's actions weren't the most heroic in the world--but at least he wasn't making character assassinations on every serving soldier/sailor/airman/Marine that had seen action in VietNam. Not a poor retort--especially in light of the second Swift Boat Vets ad.

I was, however, disappointed in one thing that both Kristol and Hume missed out on. The final question circling the table was something to the effect of "how do the Dems recover from these attacks and return the focus of the election to the issues?" And how I would have LOVED to have been there! All right, I'm giving myself too much credit there. But the response I would have LOVED to have heard: "First of all, all of the allegations brought forward by the Swift Boat Vets ARE an issue to this election--not because of the actions Kerry took 30 years ago half a world away, but rather because of how he has portrayed those actions continually during his tenure as a public servant. I can think of no issue that is of more importance to the country than the credibility of their elected officials, and the Swift Boat Vets have raised several valid questions about the truthfulness that Sen. Kerry has employed at various times in his public life. Let's face it: this debate wouldn't have gotten the attention it has if it weren't for the frequent retelling of lies by the candidate and his supporters, some as recently as at the DNC. So I think that it IS an issue in this election, and that is why the record--ALL records--should be scrutinized."
Continuing on ('cuz of course I'd have limitless time with which to speak): "But to answer the question of "how to recover?", I only have one thing to say: release ALL of your records, and have an open, honest talk about what will be discovered in those records" Surprisingly, neither Kristol or Hume hit on the signing of the form 180 on their closing comments. Consider that an opportunity missed. . .
All of this kind of leads me to what I really hope happens in the next couple days: for the "legs" that this story has already developed to get up to a full-trot, the right needs to bring these allegations into "big picture" form. Right now, it makes for an interesting story, the fact that this guy might have run this unbelievable hoax for the last 30 years. But stories fade, unless there's a reason for people to remember them. The people need to be reminded that CHARACTER is a very important part of the job of President of the United States. And all these questions aren't surfacing--and continually getting more attention--because Kerry's character is above reproach. They surfaced because Kerry has portrayed his actions inconsistently since he's been in the public eye, and they've gained buoyancy because Kerry has yet to deal with them effectively (or, in the personal sense, at all--which also speaks a lot about his character, I think). The people need to be reminded of all this. Gently--but clearly.
And while I'm on the topic (well, not really): when it finally surfaces that Kerry never spent time in Cambodia, I am going to be quick to call Juan Williams' (he's a journalist, after all) employer and insist that he be fired because of a lack of credibility. His performance on the show was straight-scripted from the Dems talking points, including a resurfacing of the allegations that Bush didn't serve honorably in the National Guard. Good Lord, I coulda swore this was all behind us! But more to the point: Hume was very cordial when dealing with Williams, and in response Williams practically shouted that there was no evidence behind the Swiftees ads. When asked by Hume if he had read the Washington Post's expose today--which I think is a fair question, given the fact that it was a fairly balanced article from a largely liberal media source--Williams responded with attacks on the financiers of the swift boat ads. I mean, it wasn't journalism, and it wasn't even civil. And I don't see how, once the defense he was putting forth is thoroughly discredited, he can be looked on as "respected" anymore. I don't mind defending "your guy"--I mind that it was a mindless defense with zero facts put forth to support it and that the level of discourse was something you'd expect in a bar. That's just too much to swallow from a "journalist".

Thursday, August 19, 2004

I'm slow on the uptake here

The stories are circulating the blogosphere at such a pace that I can't even get in a word edgewise. Several questions have surfaced about Sen. Kerry's service in VietNam. The questions are only partly due to the efforts of the Swift Boat Vets, which raised some fairly legitimate discrepancies between records of Sen. Kerry's war-time claims and the actual documentation dealing with then-LTjg Kerry's actions in the war--the questions have gained "legs" due to the Kerryists failure to deal swiftly and honestly with the allegations.

And again, for the record: I do not believe that, in general, it is a good idea to go digging into the "service" of our uniformed men and women, especially 35 years in the future. The world looks very different in black and white than it does "where the rubber meets the road"--not to mention armchair quarterbacking now doesn't really do anything to correct the events of yesterday.

BUT. . .if that service of yesteryear is for some reason put front-and-center DAILY as the backdrop for the most critical election in our nation. . .well. . .let's just say that the facts behind that service should line-up. I don't care as much about Kerry's actions in uniform as much as what he has told me about those uniformed days since he became a leading elected representative of this country.

SO: If you've got hours to kill and you don't mind letting conspiracy theorists getting into your head, I send you to Captainsquartersblog.com, powerlineblog.com and hughhewitt.com. Over the last couple of days, they have dealt alternately with the possibility that David Alston (one of Kerry's foremost "band of brothers") and John Kerry never served together, with the definition of (and therefore possible fraudulent nature of Kerry's first awarding of) a Purple Heart award, and also with Kerry's claims of having run missions into Cambodia and how those supposed missions set him on course for his future political beliefs. Trust me, it's a lot of info--almost too much. Like I said, it's conspiracy theorizing at it's finest. . .but behind some conpiracy theories lies a truth that just doesn't seem possible to believe. Only time will tell if any one of the above trails will lead to a monumental blow to candidate Kerry's credibility.

For my part: I've seen/read some things lately that cause me to have my own credibility issues with the candidate. To be clear, voting for Kerry was never something that I seriously entertained--I'm a big fan of what Pres. Bush thinks, feels and does. But more to the issue, Kerry seems to be a master of the unknown. He speaks in general terms without giving a plan of action domestically; his foreign policy amounts to little more than an emasculation of America at the foot of other country's interests in the future. But one thing that SHOULD be known about Kerry, since he's made it so vital to his campaign, is his past as a decorated Naval Officer. It should be almost as accepted as scripture, these heroic actions of daring-do that not only saved men's lives, but also formed the foundation for Kerry's political ideologies some 35 years ago. So I have a problem with the fact that SO MUCH of the LTjg Kerry that the Dems put on the stage so prominently at their convention is at odds with the words and writings of the candidate himself. Over a series of posts, I'll try to flush out some of the inconsistencies that I, through limited research mind you, have found. Perhaps it will give you something to chew on?

FROM THE WORD "GO": Kerry's campaign has made the "volunteer" nature of his service central to describing how patriotic Sen. Kerry is. And he didn't just sign up for any job--in the words of Sen. John Edwards, Kerry's running mate: "he volunteered for military service. He volunteered to go to Vietnam and to captain a swift boat, one of the most dangerous duties you could have." The Dems have long held that Kerry CHOSE to be a Swift Boat skipper because it was the most dangerous place to be, and he felt that it was his duty to answer that call.

So as I'm looking through various accounts of Kerry's background, I come across this little gem from Michael Kranish, who ran a multi-article biography of John Kerry in the Boston Globe last summer: "Kerry initially hoped to continue his service at a relatively safe distance from most fighting, securing an assignment as "swift boat" skipper. While the 50-foot swift boats cruised the Vietnamese coast a little closer to the action than the Gridley had come, they were still considered relatively safe. "I didn't really want to get involved in the war," Kerry said in a little-noticed contribution to a book of Vietnam reminiscences published in 1986. "When I signed up for the swift boats, they had very little to do with the war. They were engaged in coastal patrolling and that's what I thought I was going to be doing."
But two weeks after he arrived in Vietnam, the swift boat mission changed -- and Kerry went from having one of the safest assignments in the escalating conflict to one of the most dangerous.

Hmm. . .that's a little bit different than the story put forth by the Dems lately, isn't it? Again, I'm not attacking Kerry's noble and heroic service on the Swift Boats--I'm just pointing to the fact that the background the Dems framed that service in is not exactly how it appears to have been framed by the candidate himself. We'll call that inconsistency #1.

More to follow. . .

Sunday, August 15, 2004

The biggest issue of them all

Several of my recent posts have dealt with the Kerry Christmas in Cambodia story. This story has been circulating the blogosphere for a good 10 days now, and even found it's way in to mainstream media early last week. Enough rumblings were made about it that the Kerry camp was forced to "step back" from their candidate's frequent and public claims of spending Christmas Eve 1968 in Cambodia.

I find it very interesting that the majority of media outlets--the big three of the television networks, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the L.A. Times, the list goes on and on--still have not run item 1 about this development. Other media outlets--talk shows and the like--have resorted to attacking the Swift Boat Vets for Truth (the group of veterans behind the book "Unfit for Command", where the Cambodia allegations surfaced), trying to establish a "credibility shortcoming" with that group. But does anybody deal with the allegations and the retraction that has already occured because of the allegations? Of course not.

Kerry's recent campaigning, and the media coverage of it, has all dealt with the "issues" of the day. Health care, education, security on the homefront, etc.--you know the list. They frame the attacks from the SBVT as something that can be ignored because it deals with the past, not the future, and the election should be about the future, right?

But there is one issue, in my opinion the biggest issue, of this upcoming election that is dealt with directly by the SBVT. The issue, my friends, is credibility. The SBVT did not organize to attack Kerry's service IN VIETNAM (well, not JUST to do that), but rather to bring to light some inconsistencies in Kerry's record that show him as a less-than-evenhanded political operative for over 30 years now.

If you don't think that credibility is an issue in the President's office, just harken back a couple months to when the left was screaming EVERY DAY about how Bush had lied to put this country's armed forces in Iraq. For months, it was all that the press could talk about. That nonsense has simmered down a bit, thanks to the commissions that showed that the President dealt honestly with the information that he was given, and that he and his administration did not exert any influence over the collection and presentation of that information. But for several months, the argument put forth by the left was that this President had shot his credibility, and therefore could not be a reliable leader for the next four years.

All those campaign "issues" that the left like to focus on from the Kerry camp? They mean NOTHING if the candidate is not credible. He can support, in words, any number of great plans to appeal to the voters. But what will he actually seek to do if given the reigns to the Oval Office? How can anyone know that a campaign promise means ANYthing if the man speaking them has proven to be less than credible?

One cannot establish credibility without having research performed into the past actions of a candidate. While it would be GREAT to just assume a candidate is credible from the get-to, that would be foolish most of the time (what a sad truth that is), and ESPECIALLY foolish now that Kerry has already found it necessary to backtrack from claims he's made several times over the years about memories that were "seared" into his brain.

Of course, candidate Kerry COULD make the job of investigating the SBVT claims really easy--if he would just release ALL of his military records. It would take the crack team at the WaPo about 2 days to compare the charges put forth by the Swiftees to the record currently being protected by Kerry. Why does he (Kerry) protect his record so?

What does the playing of this cat-and-mouse game tell you about the candidate's credibility?

Let me reiterate: credibility IS an issue--in fact, one could argue that it is THE issue!

Credibility DOES NOT deal with how anyone SERVED in a war 35 years ago.

Credibility DOES, however, directly deal with how anyone has REPRESENTED their actions in that war for the last 35 years. The words of today are an important epilogue to the actions of yesterday. Bravery in uniform means little without the moral strength to portray those brave acts in a just and honest manner--especially if you use those acts as inspiration for a lifetime of public service.

And there's only one way to give us a full picture of the representation that this man gave to his heroic acts of yesteryear: let us see the records.

Until that time, we are forced to deal with a less-than-forthcoming candidate. My personal take: mysterious and evasive doth not credible make. In fact, an unwillingness to support your actions of the past can do nothing but emotionally paralyze you when faced with necessary actions in the future.

And in these times, the last thing we need in the Oval Office is an emotionally paralyzed figurehead who can't even be honest about the things he has actually experienced.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Pres/First Lady on Larry King Live

Last night, President and Mrs. Bush appeared on Larry King Live. My overall take was that it was a decent interview. I felt Mrs. Bush was a little passive, and sometimes it takes great effort for our President to get his train of thought out of the station. But there were some gems, highlighted below:

- I had never thought of applying the "are we better off now than we were 4 years ago?" question to this election. Ultimately, that's what a re-election bid boils down to. And while, in terms of economy, employment, health care, education, etc., this will be an interesting debate for the next months, there is one area, brought out by the Prez last night, where we most definitely are better off now than we were 4 years ago: security. And since that's a pretty big issue in this election, this line of questioning should not scare the right as much as it scared me prior to last night. Bush's answer was strong, spoken without hesitation, and centered on the biggest issue of this upcoming election. Excellent stuff!

- asked to compare his timeline for the decreasing of troop numbers in Iraq with Sen. Kerry's proposed 6-months: "the timeline is this: not one day more than is necessary, and the commanders on the ground will let us know when". (I like this answer a lot--leaves the decision for troop strength with the soldiers on the ground, not back in Washington. Isn't that something that we should have learned from VietNam?) He re-iterated, although not as strongly as I wish he had, that our troops were there at the Iraqi government's request. King asked if that meant that if the Iraqis asked us to leave, would we leave? Yes. Again, Bush got that entire segment right!

- Bush gave an excellent argument for a Federal Marriage Amendment. I wish I had the transcript of the interview so I could run it whole--it was the best explanation I'd heard yet. Legal rights for homosexual couples? Leave that up to the states. But the question of "marriage" should be decided on by the PEOPLE through the LEGISLATIVE Branch, not by the courts!

- He called, again, for an end to the 527 ads. While not totally distancing himself from the Swift Boat Vets, he did say that the campaign finance law he signed should have brought about an end to ads like that. I think this is an effective line for the administration, so keep it going.

- Like so many of us, Bush acknowledged that he married over his head. And he said it with such an air of affection that he really came off as sincere. It added greatly to his "everyman" image, which is something the campaign should play to strongly in the upcoming months.

One other observation: there were minimal fluff questions for the whole 40-plus minutes of the interview. This was a hard-hitting interview, and the President seemed to be just fine. In contrast, when the Kerry's appeared on LKL in early July, it was not what a non-partisan observer would classify as a tough interview. Gee, imagine that. . .

Thursday, August 12, 2004

I'm a little wrapped around the axle this morning about this whole Kerry/Cambodia business. I think that Kerry's handling of the issue sheds an awful lot of light on how his mind works--and it certainly isn't a light that the left wanted to have setting the backdrop for their candidate this month.

Background: hey, if you've read this blog before, you know the Cambodia story and the Swift Boat Vets' assertions against a Cambodian Christmas for Kerry. After almost a weekend of blogosphere rumblings on the Senator's apparently falsely-"seared"-in memory of where his Christmas Eve 1968 was actually spent, the major media finally picked up on it late-afternoon Monday with a report from Carl Cameron on FoxNews. The Kerry camp INITIALLY denied that Kerry had ever said he was in Cambodia! When presented with the record from the Senate floor of a speech Kerry gave in 1986 when he spoke of his Christmas/Cambodia tale, the Kerryists essentially said, "um, we'll get back to you". And the response was overwhelming--silence for 36 hours!!! On Wednesday, the Kerry camp sent adviser Jeh Johnson to the talk show circuit to say, basically, that the Cambodia mission did NOT happen on Christmas Eve, but that Kerry is certain that he was in Cambodia at some point in time.

So I go back to the one of my three questions I wrote about several posts ago: did Kerry actually see action in Cambodia? His camp doesn't seem to be able to verify through documentation that he did. And I'm willing to bet that the Kerryists have spent a LOT of time over the last couple days trying to find someone who will take the stand and say that without a doubt Kerry's boat was in Cambodia--obviously to no avail.

And wouldn't it be nice if Kerry himself would answer the charges? Not Johnson, who apparently was given three lines that he should repeat over and over in a trance-like state, and not Lanny Davis, who was pulled out of the mothballs of the Clinton administration to spin this story in Kerry's direction on MSNBC last night--but from the candidate himself. These attacks are attacks on HIM, his REPUTATION, his SERVICE as a United States Senator, and his INTEGRITY. And how does he respond? Very slowly. And when his campaign finally decided to "mount" a defense, he sent staffers out to fight this war against his name. A personal attack by fellow veterans against statements that he has made on the record, and Kerry can't be bothered to personally get involved in the game? Listen, if you make your service record the centerpiece of your argument as to why you would be a good choice for Commander in Chief, don't you think you ought to do SOMETHING to defend that record when (what appears to be) legitimate attacks are made against it? You can "nuance" your way into being "above that level of debate" all you want--the bottom line is that sometimes you have to take up the fight yourself. Kerry's lack of engagement to defend his record--pretty much his entire qualification to lead this country in time of war--speak volumes about the kind of decision-making and strong will he'd bring to the White House.

And let's talk about the kind of defense he mounted: very weak. If he was in Cambodia, then yesterday Mr. Johnson should have had detailed information of those cross-border missions to throw out in public. I mean, what had the Kerry team been working on for the last 36 hours? Making the press do research to disprove statements may be a good strategy, given the free ride the media has largely given him so far, but eventually some reporter is going to think more about his/her career than this election, and that reporter is going to do the research necessary to blow this latest ruse wide open. ASSUMING that Kerry never found himself in Cambodian waters, yesterday his campaign should have totally disassociated itself from that claim. It would have been worth 2 days of negative press--in AUGUST--but then the story would be over. Instead, and again assuming that Kerry was never in Cambodia, his camp decides to half-retract the story as it was known a week ago--thereby adding fuel to the issue TODAY! It's not just where he was 35 years ago, or what he said on the Senate floor 18 years ago--it's now a CURRENT issue that illustrates clearly the kind of character this man is made of. And again, it's not exactly the kind of an illustration that makes one automatically think of the word "Presidential", is it?

No matter how you cut it, the Kerry camp blew this one. Either they were slow to defend their candidate's claims of missions into Cambodia, or they were foolish to believe that a half-retraction would be enough to satiate the wolves from the right. One side shows them as incompetent; the other has them as out-of-touch and not fully understanding of the threat to their candidate. Exactly which of these images is the one we should want to have hold the job of President in time of war?

R Lee Ermey rules the Diamond morning show

This will be a shameless plug for a man that I've long feared, although I had never met him. R. Lee Ermey, movie actor, former Marine Gunny Sergeant, and now host of Mail Call on the History Channel, was given about 25 minutes on the Jack Diamond morning show this morning. My drive in to work has rarely been so enjoyable.

Background: Ermey plays the D.I. in the movie Full Metal Jacket. It was type-casting to the billionth degree, as he had actually been a USMC recruit instructor during his time in service. He was only in about the first third of the movie, but his performance was mesmerizing.

He's done parts in other flicks since then, but on the side of his acting career he mostly avails himself to two organizations that he plugged on the JD morning show today: the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society and the Young Marines. I've had occasion to work through the NMCRS before, and I know this to be an outstanding organization for families in the Navy-Marine team. Ermey's stories and unfaltering support for these two organizations speak volumes about both the organizations and the man plugging them this morning. Check him out at www.rleeermey.net. And while you're at it, look at www.nmcrs.org and www.youngmarines.com.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

take two on FoxNews

Tonight, on the Brit Hume hour on FoxNews, his "panel" consisted of Williams, Liasson and Charles Krauthammer. Mr. K was an able member of the panel, and seemed much more composed and focused on the issue at hand than Mr. Barnes had on Monday. Krauthammer's big push was that Kerry needs to release his military records, just to clarify all these things that have been reported in the press the last couple days.

Mr. Williams, AGAIN, can't get off of the fact that Kerry served in VietNam. Listen, the issue tonight was NOT Kerry's service in that war--it was, as it should be, about his service in the Senate, and about his not-so-few speeches against the government that he made upon returning from VietNam. Krauthammer and Hume did a good job on keeping the issue properly framed, and when Williams fell back on the "he served, leave him alone" line, he effectively was taken out of the conversation. And it was a good sight to see. . .

And by the way, Kerry's camp now says that it wasn't Christmas Eve, but that he (Kerry) is certain that at some point subsequent to that Eve he was in Cambodia. We're talking about a three-month period here that needs to be researched--and I'm sure it will be researched soon. I can't help but think that the Kerry camp cannot be so stupid as to think that ANY claim of a Cambodian mission for their candidate would get a free pass from the press now. I mean, what kind of pure lunacy would that have to be--to backtrack under intense scrutiny from a good story by asserting something that is still a lie? So maybe Kerry did find himself in Cambodia at some point in time. . .which, if such is the case, makes his campaign's total fumbling of this issue as it arose two nights ago inexcusable. Professionals should be more adept at dealing with the exactitude demanded of candidates for the highest office in the land--ESPECIALLY since the "issue" kinda mini-broke in the blogosphere last week. Not exactly the way to build confidence in your ability to govern, Senator. . .

And let's talk best-case for Kerry with regards to the Cambodia story: let's ASSUME Kerry actually did find himself in Cambodia at some time--just not Christmas Eve. Not the most damaging story--normally. But in this war we find ourselves in for the foreseeable future, we need somebody in the Presidency with a grasp of reality. This Cambodia for Christmas story, not told only once but rather serveral times throughout the years, shows Kerry to be something less than fully grasping of reality. And while I enjoy a good story as much as the next guy, I really don't want to have John Steinbeck sitting in the Oval Office while we face an enemy as resourceful and ruthless as any we've known in our history.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Cambodia issue on FoxNews

Brit Hume hosted a "panel" on his show on Fox tonight (6 PM EDT) The panel consisted of Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard, and Mara Liasson and Juan Williams of NPR. The issue was the Swift Boat Vets' book, Unfit for Command--particularly the part of the book dealing with my recent posts, the Cambodia on Christmas Eve 1968 story.

It started off with Hume giving some background, including the info that Kerry had spoken on the Senate floor about his "seared"-in memory of Christmas Eve in Cambodia. Hume did not, however (at least by my recollection), directly state that the book calls Kerry's claims of Cambodia-patrolling fictitious.

Hume handed it to Barnes, who basically said that the candidate (Kerry) needs to rectify his statements with the facts presented in the book. Along the lines of (a) were you there; (b) what were you doing there? OR (b) why did you create this story? Not a bad little handle on the issue so far. . .

Liasson was very cordial, basically saying that maybe Kerry THOUGHT he was in Cambodia when in fact he was not. She acknowledges that the questions about Kerry's service are pretty much fair game because KERRY made them so. There was more to it than that, but the gist of her first turn around the panel was not very substantial.

Williams goes off. I won't get into the specifics (for lack of specific memory), but he basically said that the whole issue was a Bush-led conspiracy to attack Kerry's character and characterization of service. From that point on, it was Williams vs. Barnes, with Williams arguing that Kerry's volunteering for service in VietNam should leave him exempt from attacks ON his service there, and with Barnes going further into the Swiftees attacks, bringing up the doctor and the injuries, etc etc.

For his part, Hume did not let Williams, more eloquent and composed than Barnes, off the hook entirely. Facts are stubborn things, it is written, and Hume kept coming back to the facts. Good for him.

All right, first the good news: this issue is now in front of the public. It belongs there, and the right should strive to keep Cambodia front page news until Kerry un-nuances his statements.

But it's not all good. . .

I felt much disappointment for Mr. Barnes' performance on the show. Listen, you will look like a conspiracy theorist if you go too deep into the issue of Kerry's SERVICE in VietNam. He was in uniform, he did some brave things, he got hurt to some degree--let all that be. In short, NO MORE DOCTORS!!! If he shouldn't have gotten the purple hearts, that should have been brought to light THEN, before the award was given. Don't fight that fight now--it's too late.

The issue, that I SOOOO wish would have been brought out more by Mr. Barnes, is that Kerry LIED ON THE SENATE FLOOR! It cannot be debated anymore--he said words that were untrue, and he said those words NOT for lack of information as to their incorrectness (in stark constrast to the Bush/WMD issue, where contrary information was nowhere to be found). It was deliberate and said for effect to further the cause that Kerry supported at the time. It was, in short, the most inexcusable act of deceit from an elected member of our representative government. Let that act stand on it's own, and make Kerry answer for his deceit.

It's not an attack on his uniformed activities, which of course births cries of "foul play" from the left. It's an attack on his service as a SENATOR, which is the fairest game in town. Keep the debate there, and the points will start coming in. Focus, people, focus!!!

Saturday, August 07, 2004

It can happen to anyone. . .

Very recently I have taken a stance against all these SwiftBoat Vets actions and ads against Presidential nominee John Kerry. I felt that their talking points did little in the debate for the highest office in the land, as they primarily dealt with unquantifiable perceptions of events that happened 30-odd years ago. HOW Kerry served then wasn't a winning issue for the right, nor was it a good thing for the nation as a whole.

I posted these thoughts almost as a gut reaction to the strong personal attacks from the vets of these last few days. Rarely do I write so quickly about something, and even more rarely will I write about ANYthing before a good amount of info is out there to help me disect the facts. My desire to have a good amount of info prior to posting may leave me a few steps behind the cutting edge of the blogosphere, but at least it keeps me from writing things that I later retract. . .

Which is the position I find myself in today. I am still not much of a fan of any attacks on HOW Kerry served--any information about the medals and citations that might have shed some different light on his actions in the conflict should have come to the surface at that time, not now. But the latest stuff I'm reading, mostly courtesy of Hugh Hewitt and the Kerry Spot, brings in to question two things that are of interest to me: WHERE he served (specifically, did he ever have orders to go to Cambodia); and WHAT he said about that supposed service.

Some highlights: Kerry has purported before spending Christmas eve 1968 within the international waters of Cambodia due to his "orders". An experience from that night was supposedly recounted by Sen. Kerry ON THE SENATE FLOOR back in 1986 when the senate was deliberating about the freedom-fighting Contras in Nicaragua. However, the commanders and fellow "swiftees" behind the recent attacks on Kerry say that the then-LT in the Navy should never have been that close to Cambodia--not on Christmas Eve 1968, not ever.

The details of what happened that night don't mean too much to me; what DOES hold significance, however, is whether or not Kerry was ever in Cambodian international waters. Because if he was, it appears that he shouldn't have been. . .and if he wasn't, then it appears that he "created" a story that he decided to tell on the Senate floor. (By the way, according to reports, on this particular appearance in the Senate he was relating his "service" in Cambodia as a reason why he did--and why others should--distrust the intentions of the government with regards to supporting movements that sought freedom in their countries). And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a big no-no, and goes directly to the issue of his credibility as a public servant.

SO, in summary: Someone please figure out if Sen. Kerry did in fact mention war duty in Cambodia during the Senate session of 1986. If so, then we need to figure out if he actually did see action in Cambodia during his VietNam tour. And if that is the case, we need to figure out why he was there. I will be following the reports on this story as they break--in the meantime, consider me to be "undecided" as to the worth/effectiveness of the Swift Boat Vets campaign so far.

Side note: If I can be moved from the "boo on you" to the "ehh, let's see" column on this issue, then it's an issue that the right needs to keep in the game until it is ultimately resolved.

UPDATE: consider step 1 above complete. Go here for the details. Thanks to JustOneMinute!
Step 2 might be a tricky one to navigate--but I think it will be worth it. Time to get this issue in front of the people--in a manner slightly less confrontational than the Swiftees. But get it there we must!

Thursday, August 05, 2004

let good enough be

I'm not a fan of Sen. Kerry, in case you haven't noticed. But there is one thing that I will not question: he served IN VietNam. Granted, it was only 4 months--but those 4 months should not be open to attack from any quarter.

Why these Swift Boat folks would come out now with such zeal and try to make a splash by attacking Kerry's actions IN VietNam is beyond me. Listen, it's the old "he said, he said" story, and the second one to get the microphone rarely wins that game. This same group tried to get out some "publicity" months ago, and it--appropriately--went nowhere. Catch a hint when it is offered to you!

Especially when all the things Kerry did OUT of VietNam with regards to that war are a matter of public record and equally as damaging to his character. There's a veritable treasure trove of attackable material there, especially as it relates to today's war. This was the group that could've brought those actions to light--instead they make accusations that will never be proven true. Such poor direction--and a total lack of political awareness.

Look, Kerry didn't get a huge bounce from the convention DESPITE the fact that he put his military service on display. Either America doesn't care about it, or they realize that 4 months served 30 years ago doth not a Commander in Chief make. Let's move on, folks--there is nothing to see here.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

A little reality check

It's famous by now--Teresa Heinz-Kerry's response to the heckler shouting "four more years" at one of the latest Kerry campaign stops.

Four MORE years of hell.

Really, Teresa--"hell". Don't you think that's a little harsh?

When is the last time you had to worry about being killed because of your religious beliefs?

When is the last time you were subjected to unspeakable physical torture because of your sex?

When is the last time you worried about being imprisoned because of your political ideas?

When is the last time you had to worry about where your next meal was going to come from?

In fact, when is the last time that you, personally, had to deal with something that even REMOTELY resembled hell?

You have wealth beyond compare--and your fortune has probably grown under Bush's stewardship of the economy.

Your 5 houses of great size and comfort--they aren't likely to become the target of an Islamofascist terrorist group due to the fact that the actions of those groups has been closely monitored for the last couple years. The success of the Bush administration's efforts to guarantee the security of the homeland can be summed up like this: ZERO ATTACKS since 9/11. And it's a good thing for you, too, since the terrorists might look at you and your husband as a worthwhile target--visible, wealthy, a former military man, etc etc. But again--that isn't a concern for you, thanks to W.

You are THIS CLOSE to calling the White House your home--and you weren't even born here! (The first part of that sentence scares me to my core!)

Hell? I think not. While there are people in this country who might be able to claim that their life is "hell"-ish, you are certainly not one of them. And neither were any of the people at that rally--people going through "hell" have better things to do than wait around for a quick campaign stop from people who have literally no idea what it's like to be on tough times.

A little dose of reality, please.

Oh, and for JFK: very chivalric of you, to say those nice things about your wife. But do you also feel that your life is hell? I mean, you said she speaks the truth, and she implied that currently things are "hell".

That's a great message for your campaign: "we're better than hell!"

Looks like a complete list to me.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Kerry-Edwards on Fox

Sen. Kerry on Fox on Sunday afternoon, when asked by Chris Wallace if his almost-hawkish speech on Thursday night matches his record:

"You know, what folks do is take, Chris — you've been around — they take a couple of votes here and there, throw them around and play games. The bottom line is, when it mattered, I went to defend my country as a young man, and I will defend my country as president"

So what happened in the interim? He was an elected representative to the highest house of Congress in the country--didn't it MATTER then??

Sen. Kerry, after being less than forthcoming about his plans to get us out of Iraq: "I've negotiated with other countries. I've worked on these issues through the years"

Really? With the exception of VietNam--which he highlighted in his acceptance speech--when else has he negotiated with other countries?

And more attacks on the White House's slow movements towards implementing the recommendations of the 9/11 commission? You know, the last time I checked, the fixes that the White House put into place shortly after 9/12 worked! It's been 2 and a half years, and there's been many more arrests than there have been attacks, right? (Easy to say, since there HAVEN'T BEEN ANY MORE ATTACKS!) And we know there were more plans for attack, so I guess that means that whatever has changed between then and today has been effective, eh? Maybe the changes weren't as all-encompassing as the recommendations by the panel that investigated the situation ad naseum for months and months--we didn't have time for that. The administration saw a problem, fixed it quickly and we've gone 2.5 years without an attack. That's good, effective WARTIME leadership. Now that the panel has FINALLY made their recommendations, the administration can look for other ways to improve our security. But the bottom line is this--we've been safe now for 30 months. That took leadership--even while the left was decrying the actions as "stomping on our civil liberties"--and and an understanding of the threat we faced. I'm pretty sure that Kerry doesn't possess either to the same degree as our President. I'd love to hear what Kerry would've done had he been in office on 9/12. . .

Or would asking that question be negative politics?