Monday, September 20, 2004

It's gotta be frustrating. . .

Today, Sen. Kerry attempted to "re-define the redefinition" of his stance on Iraq. It was a major moment, supposedly, as every news outlet was talking about his 10 AM speech from the second I woke up this morning (7 AM--I love comp days!) So I planned to watch the news at noon to see how the speech went, assuming that this was going to be the biggest story of the day.

I tuned in to FoxNews, as I frequently do. Their biggest story: CBS claims they can't authenticate the documents they used in that 60 Minutes debacle a couple weeks ago. This story garners the vast amount of attention for the next hour, although they do give some time to Kerry's appearance in New York.

Thinking that this was cranky ol' Fox playing spin on a story that makes the Dems look bad, I turned to MSNBC at 1 to see their top story. To my surprise it was the following: CBS stating that they can not authenticate the documents they used in 60 minutes. The first 8 minutes of their news hour was occupied with this story! Kerry's speech is item #2--but that was 10 minutes from the kick-off of the show! I'm sure that such a secondary mention was NOT what the Kerryites had envisioned when they woke up this morning. Their candidate tries to actually put out a message, only to get overshadowed by another story that doesn't do the Kerry camp any favors. Oh well, I'm sure it will actually serve them better when Kerry decides to change his position on the war in a couple of days. . .

So two new items to mention: The CBS story, as it was reported by Fox (so take it with a grain of salt if you must), led me to believe that Burkett claims that he is NOT the source of the memos. What role he (Burkett) played with the memos I am still unclear of, but it sounded to me like he said that he was going to protect the identity of his source. You know, this is stupid of him, ESPECIALLY if he's trying to protect the identity of the source! Everybody was willing to point the finger at this guy and say "story's over, thanks for playing". And yes, his life would have known some inconvenience because of the role he played in the story--sad, unfortunate and clearly not the way that life should be lived, but true. But the story would've ended at his doorstep and then gone on in the other direction (back to Rather, Mapes and the rest of the CBS gang). THAT would have been protecting your source. Instead, Burkett lets on that there's someone else further down the chain that had a hand in this attempt to bamboozle the public. Given the veracity that this story has been researched in just about every medium so far, I don't think that the identity of "new mystery source-person" will go undiscovered for very long. And I, for one, hope that it's a biggie. . .

Item #2: about Kerry's afterthought of a speech. Gosh, as I look at the text here (yes, I do actually look on the Kerry website from time to time), I am struck by a couple things. First of all, he paints a horrible picture of the actual circumstances in Iraq AND of the Global War on Terror. I have to ask: what is his source? I know that he has access to a great number of resources to find out what is going on in Iraq, but I'm not convinced that he uses those resources properly. His "doom and gloom" statements about Iraq, et al, lead me to believe that he's not truly abreast of grand military strategy with regards to Iraq (i.e. limit the places the enemy can use to launch an attack, then you can attack those places in a time and manner of your choosing)--but even more importantly, that he really doesn't understand what is going on there and in other places throughout the world. (See Hugh Hewitt's website for links to "milbloggers" who will give you an "on the scene" view of our efforts). Taliban regrouping? Warlords our sole source of capturing bin Laden in Afghanistan? Diverted forces? Where is it all coming from?

Secondly, Kerry's grand 4-point strategy isn't really so grand. It states what he thinks are the administration's shortcomings in "getting a handle" on the situation in Iraq. There's nothing brilliant in the points themselves, and Kerry's argument actually shows you that the administration has itself identified those 4 points as keys to stabilizing Iraq. What Kerry does not do, however, is tell you how he would succeed in accomplishing the 4 points:

-- on more allies: "After insulting allies and shredding alliances, this President may not have the trust and confidence to bring others to our side in Iraq. But we cannot hope to succeed unless we rebuild and lead strong alliances so that other nations share the burden with us. That is the only way to succeed" Seems to me that the majority of the insults to our allies have come from the Dems. . .but more to the point: Kerry does not mention what he would do to actually strengthen our alliances that he thinks are "shredded" (quoted from earlier in the speech). What's his grand plan to accomplish this task?;

-- on training the Iraqi security forces: a rant on what should be done with no substance as to how Kerry would be able to do it.;

-- on the need for a new reconstruction plan: "Last week, the administration admitted that its plan was a failure when it asked Congress for permission to radically revise spending priorities in Iraq. It took 17 months for them to understand that security is a priority … 17 months to figure out that boosting oil production is critical … 17 months to conclude that an Iraqi with a job is less likely to shoot at our soldiers. " 4 lies in two sentences--that may be a record. But more to the point: Kerry's "action" paragraph doesn't leave me thinking that his statements are a solution to the problem. More Halliburton stuff--a talking point that needs to be used less, in my opinion. Pinning the hopes of reconstruction on the Iraqis? I haven't heard anywhere that our reconstruction efforts aren't using ANY Iraqis. As for management of the projects--the most qualified Iraqis to do that 16 months ago were all leftovers of the Hussein regime. Why wouldn't the U.S. bring in their own experts to start the lengthy and challenging task of reconstruction? And last I checked, firing folks at the Pentagon wasn't going to provide electricity and water to anybody in Iraq overnight. I have a hard time believing that re-positioning civilians in DC is going to have an immediate impact on our reconstruction efforts in Iraq.

-- on the upcoming elections: "The President should recruit troops from our friends and allies for a U.N. protection force. This won’t be easy. But even countries that refused to put boots on the ground in Iraq should still help protect the U.N. We should also intensify the training of Iraqis to manage and guard the polling places that need to be opened. Otherwise, U.S forces would end up bearing those burdens alone." This is less about what the President should do than what our allies should do, since Bush and everybody else has asked the U.N. repeatedly for help in ensuring the elections in Iraq go well.

So what was the point? The summary of his entire speech today could be this: "It's going really badly over there--heck, everywhere. And it's the administrations's fault. And if you elect me, I'm going to do it all better--although we'll do the same things the administration is already doing. We'll just do it better--although I won't tell you how"

Maybe that's why his speech is the distant #2 news item of the day.


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