John Kerry has hit his stride and at just the right moment. It helps that he
has been given the gift of the al Qaqaa story as a perfect vehicle for putting
forth his message. This one story contains so many of the essential elements of
the case against Bush that it's hard not to take its appearance as a sign that
the heavens favor Kerry.
This morning, Kerry
issued a new statement on the matter that demonstrates a master of political
narrative. It's so good that I think it is worthwhile to critique it in detail:
“This week’s revelations about the missing explosives speaks to the
president’s continuing misjudgments in Iraq. According to the commanders on
the ground, our forces were not ordered to secure a weapons dump in Iraq where
380 tons of explosives were stored. Now, the president’s former chief
weapons inspector says it’s likely that these explosives are being used
against our own troops. The president’s shifting explanations and excuses
demonstrate, once again, that this president believes the buck stops anywhere
but his desk.
Hits the meta-narrative points in spades:
- Misjudgements in Iraq
- Lack of planning for the post-war phase
- The consequences of that lack of planning leading directly to a loss of
- The failure of Bush to address the issue demonstrates his fundamental
inability to acknowledge and correct mistakes.
Also uses the comments of non-Kerry partisans (commanders in the field and
the president's own weapons inspector) to back up the accusation. Message: this
isn't coming from me. It's coming from Mr. Bush's own people.
“Lately, George Bush has been invoking the name of John Kennedy. But can
you imagine President Kennedy, in the wake of the Bay of Pigs, standing up and
telling the American people that he couldn’t think of a single mistake
he’d made? That he would do everything again exactly the same way? Mr.
President, John Kennedy was a leader who knew how to take responsibility for
This is beautiful. It hits on so many points:
- Contrasts the leadership of Kennedy and Bush. Makes Bush look small in the
- Demonstrates that admitting failure is something that great leaders do.
- Invokes the memory of Democratic hero. Good for getting out the base.
- Invokes the memory of one of the all time great zinger moments in the
debate between Dan Quayle and Lloyd Bentson.
Finally, it hammers back at Bush and his belated attempt to paint Kerry as
not a real Democrat by pointing out that it is Bush who isn't a real
“Mr. President, it’s time for you to take responsibility for yours. Our
troops in Iraq are doing a heroic job – the problem is our
Commander-in-Chief isn’t doing his.
Stop blaming the troops. Stop blaming the generals. Stop blaming the spies.
Stop blaming the diplomats. Stop blaming everyone but yourself.
“Yesterday, George Bush said, ‘a political candidate who jumps to
conclusions without knowing the facts is not a person you want as your
commander in chief when it comes to your security.’
Kerry "steals" this from Wesley Clark's statement from yesterday.
But it is such an obvious critique that it's not clear who really came up with
“George Bush jumped to a conclusions about 9-11 and Saddam Hussein.
“He jumped to conclusions about weapons of mass destruction and rushed to
“He jumped to conclusions about how the Iraqi people would receive us.
“He not only jumped to conclusions – he ignored the facts.
Bang. Bang. Bang. Kerry the prosecutor is making his closing statement to
“Here are the facts, the bottom line, about these weapons: they’re not
where they’re supposed to be – they’re not secure.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, don't be fooled by their attempts to cloud
the issue with irrelevancies about precisely when the explosives disappeared.
The failure here is not in the timing but in the act itself. The facts are
these: this president went into this war claiming that he was doing it in order
to protect us from weapons of mass destruction and the materials that could be
used to make them. But when it came time to act, he failed to give the order to
secure the very items he claimed as justification for that war.
It's time to hold the defendant responsible for his acts.
“Well, guess what, according to George Bush’s own words, he shouldn’t
be our commander in chief. I could not agree more.”
If the accusation fits, you must convict.