Thursday, October 07, 2004


Looking over the transcript of the VP debates, I’m struck by how easy it would have been to deliver some serious whup-ass on the Vice President. Edwards struck me as very Old Democrat, mouthing his scripted platitudes but not engaging in real debate.

The Vice President started off with a long rambling analysis of why it was a Good Thing to invade Iraq. First, he claimed,

It's important to look at all of our developments in Iraq within the broader context of the global war on terror.
Thus began the administration’s ever-popular, ever-misleading pap about how taking out Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11 and the larger “war on terror.” The truth is the Iraqi invasion had little to with the war on terror, and everything to do with a neo-con fantasy about bringing democracy to the Middle East at the point of a US Army gun. Dark Lord Cheney went on to say recite the latest version of why we went into Iraq:

Concern about Iraq specifically focused on the fact that Saddam Hussein had been, for years, listed on the state sponsor of terror, that they he had established relationships with Abu Nidal, who operated out of Baghdad; he paid $25,000 to the families of suicide bombers; and he had an established relationship with Al Qaida. Specifically, look at George Tenet, the CIA director's testimony before the Committee on Foreign Relations two years ago when he talked about a 10-year relationship.

The effort that we've mounted with respect to Iraq focused specifically on the possibility that this was the most likely nexus between the terrorists and weapons of mass destruction.
Deconstructing this is both easy and fun. Almost nothing recited by the Dark Lord turns out to be both true and relevant. But for Edwards, the easy smack down that could have helped put this away for our side would be to say, “Mr. Cheney has tonight recited a whole litany of reason why we had to invade Iraq. All I can say is that not a single one of these reasons was cited by the administration when it asked the US Congress for authority to use force under the certain circumstances, nor the United Nations when seeking to pass the test of global opinion.”

Or something.

An even more compelling example came when Cheney was trying to score points for the “Global Test” remark of Kerry’s (“We heard Senator Kerry say the other night that there ought to be some kind of global test before U.S. troops are deployed preemptively to protect the United States.”). First, Kerry said the opposite:

No president, through all of American history, has ever ceded, and nor would I, the right to preempt in any way necessary to protect the United States of America.
Not that we would need to pass a “test before US troops are deployed to preemptively protect the United States,” as claimed be Cheney, but that Kerry would not cede, “in any way necessary to protect the United States of America.” So right there, boom. Smack-down, baby.

Secondly, and even more importantly, the global test that Kerry referred to is nothing more than the ability to convince the world (and our fellow citizens) that the government’s actions were justified. To make light of this “global test” is to lampoon none other than Thomas Jefferson, who wrote in the very first sentence of the Declaration of Independence:

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to
dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to
assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which
the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the
opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel
them to the separation.
And right there, “a decent respect for the opinions of mankind,” is what John Kerry is talking about. And, for what it’s worth, as I’ve written in a previous post, at the heart of our current difficulties: a lack of respect for the opinions of mankind. We might agree or disagree with France or Russia or China or Saudi Arabia, but to dismiss their views as irrelevant and of in interest is the root cause of the anemia of our coalition and our lack of success in Iraq.

OK, so Edwards quoting Jefferson might be a little much, but only a little. But it does bring out a larger issue: all through the build-up to the invasion of Iraq, many people agreed that Saddam Hussein posed a danger and ought to be confronted. But the evidence we had simply did not warrant an invasion. If it did, why aren’t those coutries whose security is actually threatened right there with us? Where’s Iran? Where’s Yemen? Saudi Arabia? Egypt? Russia, for heavens’ sake. All these nations were with us in the Gulf War, and none are with us today. If we can’t convince these guys of the danger, then there was good reason to believe that we were overreacting. I think most Americans know in their hearts that the evidence simply did not warrant the kind of actions we’ve undertaken. (Of some concern, though, is the fact that many Americans don’t care: any killing of Muslims is A-OK with them. Sheesh.)

There were several more opportunities for Edwards to shove the dagger in, all basically missed. “Mr. Vice President, you and George Bush have made our supposed lack of consistency the centerpiece of your campaign. Which I can understand, because if I had your sorry record of failure, I wouldn’t want to run on it either. But the plain truth is, no matter how many times you pretend not to understand our positions, they have been absolutely consistent from the get-go. And I think the American people understand that. Even more importantly, however, is the fact that the American people understand that John Kerry wants to take this country in a different direction than the one it’s heading in, and I know on Election Day we’ll see a a majority of Americans agree with us, not you.”

Ah, democratic fantasies of what might have been. Let’s hope for some more ass-whuppin’ tomorrow night in St. Louis. (“Mr. President, being a lazy stupid slimebag is NOT hard work. Now cut it out.”)

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