Thursday, March 18, 2004

Why isn't Kerry Talking About National Security?

I thought Democrats nominated Kerry to not only dispell the "weak on Defense" argument of Democrats but that he could actually take on Bush on the issues of National Security and Iraq that other couldn't (this was also the theory behind Clark by the way).

Yet, when Kerry and his surrogates on the left ( and the Media Fund) responded to Bush's negative ads against the junior Senator from Massachusetts, they talked about Jobs, Healthcare, the Economy. These "kitchen table" arguments are ones that are tried and true for a reason: Democrats always beat Republicans on this issue. Where they haven't won on since Vietnam on is Defense.

So why isn't Kerry making the case for a Democratic view of international relations and national security? Why does Dick Holbrooke and Jamie Rueben have to do it for you? The case is quite compelling really: George W. Bush promised in 2000 (to the military) "help is on the way;" Democrats need to use that line right back on him. Candidate Bush said the military was overburdened, overstretched and low on morale without adaqute supplies or pay. Flash forward to 2004, the US military is now so overdeployed that National Guardsmen are in Iraq and Afghanistan for well over 6 months at a time. Confidential interviews with soldiers in military magazines like Stars and Stripes paint a picture of troops with extremely low morale. Despite the massive run up in defense spending the last 3 years, there still isn't enough flak jackets or armored humvees for our troops patrolling Bagdad, who are getting sniped and bombed daily. (Appearantly there still is plenty of money for failed missle defense systems and new boats built in Missippi). Whose soft on defense.

Howard Dean said the right thing at the wrong time (and he was probabbly the wrong messenger too): We aren't any safer with Saddam Hussien gone. Sure, I've wanted to get rid of him since 1991, and would have wanted to get rid of him in 1987 when he bombed the Kurds with Mustard Gas had I been aware of it at the time. I also wanted to get rid of Marcos in the Phillapines, or the Chinese out of Tibet, or the Tailban out of Afghanistan in 1998 when they started bombing budda statues and letting hijackers land planes there. But the point of that tangent is you can't get rid of everyone. You have to set priorities. Or you go after all of them.

But to claim that Iraq was an iminate threat, or even an emerging threat, was a stretch to say the least. Any one who was paying attention noticed that Iraq had been blanketed by bombs and UN quaruntines and was significantly weaker than it was in 1991. I wish Kerry had voted against the war this time and against it last time, but I understand why he thought he had to. Hopefully, he can get his story straight in time to explain it to the voters.

Believe it or not, Bush is vulerable to attacks on his record as commander-in-chief. We have two wars that haven't be 100% "won," we have allies that are alienated, we have Al-Qaeda's reimergence on the world scene, swiss cheese protection provided by the Homeland Security and so on. Bush is the one who is "wrong on defense."

Democrats need an ad late in the year that catalogues all the big lies the aministration has told before the American people. Those two methods of attack, plus actually laying out a counter proposal on what to do with Iraq and national security should be enough to be winning the defense issue.

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