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Monday, October 4, 2004
What I Wish President Bush Had Said

The thing I most wish President Bush had said in the season's first presidential debate involves Kerry's record. Mr. Lehrer gave him two chances. The first was early in the debate: "Do you believe the election of Senator Kerry on November the 2nd would increase the chances of the U.S. being hit by another 9/11-type terrorist attack?" The second was late in the debate: "Clearly, as we have heard, major policy differences between the two of you. Are there also underlying character issues that you believe, that you believe are serious enough to deny Senator Kerry the job as commander in chief of the United States?" The President and the Senator used the latter opportunity to speak kindly, if a bit stiffly, about each other's wives and daughters - as if we would all be impressed by a little canned civility.

Here's the response I would like to have heard:

Jim, let's forget for the moment that Senator Kerry keeps changing his mind about things. Let's bypass the questions about what actually happened in Vietnam. Others apparently feel differently, but I haven't questioned his service there. I myself have a very public record here in Washington over the last four years; Senator Kerry has spent a lot longer than I have in Washington, and he, too has a very public record. So let's look at that record for a minute.
It begins with the veteran John Kerry, newly returned from Vietnam, testifying on Capitol Hill that he and many others committed war crimes in Vietnam. That is public record. If his testimony is true, then he is a war criminal and therefore unfit to command our armed forces. If it's false, then he is a particularly vicious liar who both perjured himself and gave aid to the enemy, and he is unfit to command our armed forces. Whether the war crimes happened or not, it's well known that his testimony was used by our enemies, the North Vietnamese, to demoralize American prisoners of war.
But we granted amnesty to a lot of young men back then in connection with Vietnam. So, at least for the sake of this discussion, let's grant Senator Kerry the same amnesty, for war crimes if his congressional testimony was true, and for perjury and aiding the enemy if his sworn testimony was false. Let's talk about his record in the Senate.
In 1985, in his first Senate speech, Senator Kerry opposed President Reagan's proposal to build the MX ballistic missile. Later that year, he introduced a nuclear freeze resolution. Three times he voted against the B-2 bomber; at least five times he voted against protecting the United States from nuclear missiles. Over the last 19 years he has opposed one weapon system after another.
Senator Kerry told Boston Globe reporter John Mooney last year that some of those past votes were "ill-advised" and "stupid." But more recently, he voted against $87 billion dollars needed by our troops in Iraq - admittedly, that was after he voted for it, as he has said.
As far as our intelligence services are concerned, in 1995 Senator Kerry proposed a measure which, among other things, would have cut our intelligence budget by $300 million per year in 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2000. Worse still, Senator Kerry has mostly been an absentee member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. When there was a meeting where crucial knowledge was to be gained or important decisions made, more often than not, since 9/11, he has been somewhere else, not learning what he needed to know, not helping to discuss and make difficult decisions - frankly, not showing up to do his job.
In short, Jim, Senator Kerry's record is that of a man who does not understand the importance of a strong military for the defense of the United States. This is a man who does not understand the importance of strong intelligence agencies for the defense of the United States. This is not the man we need commanding our armed forces for the next four years of the war on Islamo-Fascist terror.

That's more like three minutes instead of two, but it could probably be trimmed. And there are some things, such as the reference to Islamo-Fascist terror, and to that war lasting at least another four years, that the President will probably never say between now and Election Day. But it might be fun to hear.

Finally, three predictions:

  1. It will be more fun to watch Dick Cheney toy with slick pretty boy John Edwards in the vice presidential debate.
  2. When the domestic policy debate comes around, President Bush will not be plowed under, as everyone seems to think, though . . .
  3. The media, along with the rest of the Kerry campaign, will report a decisive Kerry victory anyway.
  4. Hmm. Make that four predictions: The town hall-style debate, with its handpicked, slightly left-skewed audience of clueless jellyfish (also known as undecided voters), will not lead to any great musings on the parts of the major talking heads as to whether universal suffrage might not be such a wise thing after all. Too bad.

(One of the sources for this bit of blog is FactCheck.org.)

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