May 28 2004
THE KERRY IMPERATIVE: John Kerry gave a big
national security speech yesterday. In it he outlined
four "imperatives" for his new national security
policy: 1) build & strengthen international alliances,
2) modernize the military, 3) deploy all resources against
terrorism (diplomatic, economic, etc), and 4) break our
dependence on Middle Eastern oil.
2 & 3 are rhetorical window dressing. They are already
being done by the Bush administration to great effect.
4 is a political nod to the environmental wing of the Democratic
party and a whack at Bush-Cheney Big Oil, but it's also
a long-term plan (10 years) that may or may not produce
any real gains in national security.
real meat of John Kerry's new national security policy -
and the distinction he's been trying to make between himself
and the President for months now - is point number 1: John
Kerry will rebuild the global alliances destroyed by George
W. Bush over the last four years and restore the credibility
of the United States within the international community.
aside, at least for the moment, that Kerry has repeatedly
dismissed the coalition of 30-plus countries operating in
Iraq as "fraudulent." Exactly how will President
John Kerry accomplish the goal of rebuilding our alliances?
of a speech yesterday that was over 2,900 words long, Kerry
devoted a measly 215 words to explaining the single most
important imperative of his new national security policy.
Here they are:
first new imperative represents a return to the principle
that guided us in peril and victory through the past century
– alliances matter, and the United States must lead
has this been more true than in the war on terrorism.
president, my number one security goal will be to prevent
the terrorists from gaining weapons of mass murder. And
our overriding mission will be to disrupt and destroy
their terrorist cells.
al Qaeda is a network with many branches, we must take
the fight to the enemy on every continent – and
enlist other countries in that cause.
must always be the world’s paramount military power.
But we can magnify our power through alliances. We simply
can’t go it alone – or rely on a coalition
of the few. The threat of terrorism demands alliances
on a global scale – to find the extremist groups,
to guard ports and stadiums, to share intelligence, and
to get the terrorists before they get us. In short, we
need a “coalition of the able” – and
in truth, no force on earth is more able than the United
States and its allies.
must build that force – and we can. We can be strong
without being stubborn. Indeed, that is ultimately the
only way we can succeed. "
That's it, folks. Personally, I'd say that's a little lean
in the specifics department. Kerry's overarching national
security vision boils down to something like, "trust
me America, I'll get the French and Germans to like us again."
being a little flip, but this is deadly serious stuff. The
limitations (or perils, if you prefer) of a multilateralist
driven foreign policy are real, especially if they are conducted
at the direction of a person who has demonstrated such a
marked capacity for ambivalence and an aversion to the use
of force for anything other than humanitarian purposes.
the Washington Post today, Jim
VandeHei reports that Kerry's own advisors can't even
explain when and where we might possibly exert force under
his new vision:
it is unclear how Kerry's multilateralism would administer
military force. In a briefing before the speech, Kerry's
foreign policy advisers said it is uncertain whether the
senator from Massachusetts would have waged war with Iraq
if he were president.
it seems unclear to some people, let me help clarify: there
is no way - and I mean not a snowball's chance - that John
Kerry would have taken military action against Saddam Hussein
without the explicit authorization of the UN Security Council.
Kerry has made it clear that the unanimous vote on Resolution
1441 calling for "severe consequences" against
Saddam wasn't good enough.
Kerry wasn't even in favor of taking military action after
Saddam Hussein had invaded another country and his army
was pillaging Kuwait City in 1991.
also that there wouldn't even have been a Resolution 1441
pushed through the Security Council in the first place if
President Bush hadn't laid down the markers of just how
serious a matter Iraq's full compliance was to the United
States of America.
other words, it's almost beyond dispute that if John Kerry
were president, Saddam Hussein would still be in power.
Hussein and his sons would still be running a rogue state,
flouting international law, destabilizing the region, and
profiting daily from a corrupt and scandalous UN -un oil-for-food
more apt question - and one which I think does remain unclear
given Kerry's overriding concern for multilaterism - is
the following hypothetical: if for some reason one of our
allies (France, Germany, and/or Russia) had objected to
an invasion of Afghanistan after 9/11, would John Kerry
still have put boots on the ground? If faced with a similar
choice in the future, what will he do?
with so many other parts of his candidacy, Kerry is offering
a return to the policies of the Clinton administration.
His foreign policy vision is being
crafted by the same people who led us through much of the
1990's: Madeleine Albright, Sandy Berger, William Perry,
Richard Holbrooke, and Rand Beers.
can make their own judgments about the consequences and
results of the policies and policymakers who guided us before
September 11. But Leslie Gelb, President Emeritus of the
Council on Foreign Relations and a Kerry advisor, doesn't
paint too pretty a picture:
might as well go into the situation room and commit the
same mistakes they did before," said Mr. Gelb, a
former New York Times foreign affairs columnist. "The
ideas they bring to the table are basically ideas that
worried the American people for the last 20 years - whether
Democrats are clear-sighted enough, tough enough."
a very large degree the question this November will be whether
the public wants to hand the keys to America's national
security back to these people again. - T. Bevan
8:31 am Link
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May 26 2004
FLIGHT RIDDLE SOLVED OR NOT?: In an
interview with The Hill yesterday, Richard Clarke claimed
sole responsibility for authorizing the post-9/11 flight
that allowed many of Osama bin Laden's relatives to leave
mystery of who authorized the flight has been a staple of
the Michael Moore left for some time now, especially since
9/11 Commission Chairman Lee Hamilton mentioned publicly
that the commissioners had asked the question at least "50
times" but had never gotten an answer. They have one
now. Or do they?
the interview Clarke said:
take responsibility for it. I don’t think it was
a mistake, and I’d do it again...”
[authorization of the flight] didn’t get any higher
than me. On 9-11, 9-12 and 9-13, many things didn’t
get any higher than me. I decided it in consultation with
Clarke's response seems to contradict his public testimony
before the 9/11 Commission:
request came to me, and I refused to approve it,”
Clarke testified. “I suggested that it be routed
to the FBI and that the FBI look at the names of the individuals
who were going to be on the passenger manifest and that
they approve it or not. I spoke with the — at the
time — No. 2 person in the FBI, Dale Watson, and
asked him to deal with this issue. The FBI then approved
… the flight.”
a little different than saying, ‘I claim sole responsibility
for it now,’” Roemer said yesterday.
the FBI has denied approving the flight.
spokeswoman Donna Spiser said, “We haven’t
had anything to do with arranging and clearing the flights.”
did know who was on the flights and interviewed anyone
we thought we needed to,” she said. “We didn’t
interview 100 percent of the [passengers on the] flight.
We didn’t think anyone on the flight was of investigative
Roemer asked Clarke during the commission’s March
hearing, “Who gave the final approval, then, to
say, ‘Yes, you’re clear to go, it’s
all right with the United States government,’”
Clarke seemed to suggest it came from the White House.
believe after the FBI came back and said it was all right
with them, we ran it through the decision process for
all these decisions that we were making in those hours,
which was the interagency Crisis Management Group on the
video conference,” Clarke testified. “I was
making or coordinating a lot of the decisions on 9-11
in the days immediately after. And I would love to be
able to tell you who did it, who brought this proposal
to me, but I don’t know. The two — since you
press me, the two possibilities that are most likely are
either the Department of State or the White House chief
of staff’s office.”
of putting the issue to rest, Clarke’s testimony
fueled speculation among Democrats that someone higher
up in the administration, perhaps White House Chief of
Staff Andy Card, approved the flights.
couldn’t have come from Clarke. It should have come
from someone further up the chain,” said a Democratic
Senate aide who watched Clarke’s testimony.
testimony did not settle the issue for Roemer, either.
doesn’t seem that Richard Clarke had enough information
to clear it,” Roemer said Monday.
just don’t think that the questions are resolved,
and we need to dig deeper,” Roemer added. “Clarke
sure didn’t seem to say that he was the final decisionmaker.
I believe we need to continue to look for some more answers.”
says the issue of the flight is a "tempest in a teapot",
but Chairman Hamilton warned that it is "a story that
could shift" and it still "under review."
what gives? On one hand, it looks pretty simple: Clarke
was the person responsible for authorizing the flight. If
so, then his testimony before the Commission was at best
misleading and the fact he's kept silent about it knowing
the Commission has been desperately seeking the answer shreds
whatever is left of his credibility (which isn't much, if
you ask me).
if Clarke really was responsible for authorizing the flight
for bin Laden's relatives it begs the obvious question:
wouldn't someone from the White House have testified to
that effect or leaked the information to the press?
the other hand the article still seems to suggest, as do
the quotes from Commissioner Roemer, that Clarke simply
could not have been responsible for authorizing the flight
on his own and had to have received direction from someone
higher up in the White House. In other words, Clarke is
taking the fall.
on earth would he do that? It makes absolutely no sense
that Clarke would step up and fall on his sword to do the
Bush administration any favors.
Clarke is now on record saying he was the guy responsible
for the flight. Watch how the left deals with this fact.
Al Franken apologize to President Bush on Air America? Will
he even acknowledge the story at all? Will Michael Moore
edit his award-winning film (which I believe contains references
to Bush being directly responsible for spiriting bin Laden's
relatives out of the country)?
to my fellow Americans: do not hold your breath.
will the left turn on a person they've just spent months
fawning over as a courageous, truth-telling whistleblower
and now call Richard Clarke a liar? At least that would
be a little more realistic, because Clarke was either lying
before or he's lying now. - T. Bevan 8:03 am Link
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May 25 2004:
THANKS: To to all who contributed during our fund
drive. It' a humbling and energizing experience to be on
the receiving end of such a wave of support. We're truly
grateful to everyone who gave so generously.
WINE & CHEESE BIAS AT CBS NEWS: Does CBS News
conduct all of its polling at cocktail parties on the Upper
East Side of Manhattan? That's what comes to mind after
thing they tried to pass off as an objective poll yesterday.
to the fact that two other polls were conducted over the
same time period and released on the same day, we can get
a better idea of just how the CBS poll compares:
* This is the number for registered voters
and differs from the "likely voter" number on our
head-to-head poll page.
notice the bias isn't pro-Kerry, it's anti-Bush. As we've
before, CBS News/NY Times usually undersamples Republicans
and oversamples Democrats and Independents, leading to weaker
numbers all around for the President.
you go back, as I did this morning, and look at job approval
numbers from the same group of pollsters for the first five
and a half months of 2004, you can see the consistency of
the CBS/NYT bias more clearly.
every instance except one this year (and a very iffy one
at that), CBS/NYT produced the worst job approval number
of any of the three polls during a comparative time period.
the numbers from 2004 yields the following result:
Polls in '04
CBS/NYT is spitting out job approval numbers that run, on
average, about 4.25% lower than their competitors and a
full 3% lower than the average of all 29 polls taken by
the three groups this year.
this a shocking revelation? Of course not. But it does help
to quantify the anti-Bush bias inherent in the CBS/NYT polls
and to provide a guideline for interpreting future results.
- T. Bevan 9:03 am Link
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May 24 2004
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STILL BUSH'S RACE TO LOSE: Five or six weeks ago
there was a flurry of stories
describing how Democrats were terribly concerned
about the state
of the Kerry campaign.
three or four weeks before that we witnessed the crescendo
primary run and there was a lot of talk about how the
White House had to "get in the game" and "get
serious" with the campaign.
latest flurry of punditry, brought on by the string of bad
news in Iraq over the last few weeks, is best summed up
by the theme "President Bush is in big trouble."
needs to settle down. Republicans should take a deep breath
and perhaps take an early Memorial Day vacation and Democrats
who are rubbing their hands thinking they are headed for
the White House might want to temper their enthusiasm. President
Bush is not nearly in as bad of shape as you would think
from reading the papers or listening to the punditry on
I know all about the falling job approval
numbers, the right/track wrong/track polls, and about
how no modern day President has won reelection with approval
ratings below 50%. Lost in all the focus on particular polling,
however, is an underappreciation of the significance of
September 11, 2001 and the fact that America is at war.
said for months now that the more the country is focused
on terror, Iraq and war the more it will ultimately benefit
President Bush in the fall. While the media continues its
gleeful self-flagellation over the prisoner abuse at Abu
Ghraib, the rest of the country has moved on in understanding
the seriousness of the war and the context of the prisoner
abuse in the larger scheme of things.
many ways this election will be about whether the war in
Iraq is more like World War II or Vietnam. Can you imagine
hearing endless rants of defeatism in 1942: Why are are
we in North Africa? Doesn't Roosevelt know it was the Japanese
who attacked us in 1941? Can you imagine story after story
on how we were abusing and humiliating poor Japanese and
today all we hear from the mainstream media outlets is negative
story after negative story. In an excellent
article last week Mort Kondracke suggests that Congress
and the media could talk the U.S. into defeat in Iraq.
American establishment, led by the media and politicians,
is in danger of talking the United States into defeat
in Iraq. And the results would be catastrophic.
The media - unperturbed by mistakenly likening both the
Afghan war and last year's invasion of Iraq to Vietnam
- focuses overwhelmingly on the bad news coming out of
Iraq. There is plenty of bad news - but there is also
much good, and it is being almost completely ignored.
Members of Congress - either out of a passion to defeat
President Bush, pique at not being listened to by the
Bush administration, or simply a need to hear their own
voices - are declaring the war "unwinnable" or "a quagmire,"
or are demanding an "exit strategy."
everyone says they support American troops in Iraq, soldiers
have to wonder whether the country is fully behind their
mission. Iraqis, too, have to be wondering: Will America
stay the course?
Bush surely will. He strikes me as being as resolute as
George Washington was at Valley Forge, Abraham Lincoln
after the early defeats of the Civil War, and Franklin
Roosevelt in the darkest days of World War II. They didn't
have "exit strategies," either.
are at war and right now the war is not going very well.
That is why the President's poll numbers are down. It's
is not that simple, however, is taking the next step and
assuming because the President's job approval is down John
Kerry is going to win.
percent of the press may feel Iraq is more like Vietnam
than WWII, but I get the feeling the majority of the American
people aren't willing to concede that Iraq is another Vietnam.
as long as America sees Iraq more like WWII and less like
Vietnam, they won't want a President who just wants to get
us out, they'll want a President who is willing to do what
is necessary to win. It's going to be the number one factor
in determining who wins the election this fall: which candidate
is the best man to win the War on Terror?
Bush is not hostage to events in Iraq and around the world
as much as people think. The country is a lot tougher than
the talking heads on TV and the prophets of doom in the
press. Contrary to popular wisdom, events can get worse
in Iraq and the country will hang in there as long as they
believe there is a plan and a commitment to win. All President
Bush has to do is show the same leadership he has shown
since September 11th.
President's biggest problem isn't Abu Ghraib or Al Sadr
or Fallujah. His biggest problem - and the thing that most
concerns the American public - is that for the last few
weeks the White House has acted like it doesn't have a plan
and doesn't know what it is doing.
sympathetic to the difficulties in Iraq and I realize there
are no easy answers. But the American people want more than
just "stay the course" from the President. Unfortunately
not only is the White House fighting the enemy in Iraq they
are also constantly having to battle the forces of defeatism
here at home.
reason this race is still President Bush's to lose is because
he is in control of whether he will show that leadership.
I suspect he will. Amazingly, his opponents are once again
would think after beating an incumbent Vice-President during
a time of peace and prosperity and then personally carrying
his party to an unprecedented victory in 2002, the prophets
of George W. Bush's demise would be a little more circumspect
in their predictions.
is going to be a long 5 1/2 months until Nov. 2 and there
are going to be many pendulum swings in the polls. Given
the relatively even partisan split in the country we are
probably headed for another close election. But I have news
for all those cheering the President's current problems;
George W. Bush is no Jimmy Carter. If there is going be
a blow out this year, it's going to be the Democrats holding
the short end of that stick. J. McIntyre 8:03 am
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