Kerry on the Roller Coaster
ABC's The Note has part of the transcript from Diane Sawyer's interview with Kerry this morning. Kerry walked right into the trap I warned about yesterday. (The Kerry campaign should read Rant Wraith because I'm spoonfeeding them what they need to avoid this shit. Hey, Kerry campaign, I'm available as a consultant anytime. Just send me an email. But if you're going to glom off my free advice how about droping some of that ketchup money in my tip jar?)
Here're the quotes:
DS: So it [the war in Iraq] was not worth it.
JK: We should not — it depends on the outcome ultimately — and that depends on the leadership. And we need better leadership to get the job done successfully, but I would not have gone to war knowing that there was no imminent threat — there were no weapons of mass destruction — there was no connection of Al Qaeda — to Saddam Hussein! The president misled the American people — plain and simple. Bottom line. [Notice how he doesn't quite answer the question or even complete some of the sentences. W is not the only one with articulation issues.]
DS: So if it turns out okay, it was worth it? [Which is what he just said in the paragraph above: "it depends on the outcome ultimately"]
JK: No. [WTF?]
DS: But right now it wasn't [ … ? … ]--
JK: It was a mistake to do what he did, but we have to succeed now that we've done what he's — I mean look — we have to succeed. But was it worth — as you asked the question — $200 billion and taking the focus off of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda? That's the question. The test of the presidency was whether or not you should have gone to war to get rid of him. I think, had the inspectors continued, had we done other things — there were plenty of ways to keep the pressure on Saddam Hussein.
DS: But no way to get rid of him. [That is correct. There was no way to remove Hussein short of military action.]
JK: Oh, sure there were. Oh, yes there were. Absolutely. [Huh? Such as? Why didn't he suggect a few of these methods two years ago? Or even now?]
DS: So you're saying that today, even if Saddam Hussein were in power today it would be a better thing — you would prefer that . . .
JK: No, I would not prefer that.
That last exchange is where Kerry is whipsawed by the roller coaster. He cannot bring himself to state what his position implies. If the war in Iraq was not worth it then he would prefer that Hussein was still in power and our troops were not being killed in Iraq. There is no other way to make sense of what he is saying. And there is nothing wrong with that position. It is defensible and coherent. I don't agree with it but it is sound and sensible.
Kerry is in danger of slipping into the untenible position of some war opponents that Christopher Hitchens identified two years ago: people who want Hussein removed but don't want to commit to the only method of achieving that. These are people who substitute wishes for policies, who are at best impotent and at worse are cynically disguising their passivity behind self-contradiction.
I don't think Kerry falls into this group. I think it is much simpler than that. He simply doesn't know what he wants; he only knows what he doesn't want. He doesn't want Hussein in power. He doesn't want US troops being killed. He doesn't want dangerous authoritarian regimes developing nukes. But being an executive leader, as opposed to a legislator, means having to take positive positions, having to makes decisions that result in actions, nor simply in further discussions. You have to know the results you want and decide on the best means to achieve it.
You need a better answer by tomorrow night John. If you need any more advice, email me. I'm quite expensive but you need all the help you can get.