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Fred Barnes: Debate Hangover (Some things Kerry said may come back to haunt him)
The Weekly Standard ^ | October 11, 2004 | Fred Barnes

Posted on 10/02/2004 12:50:31 PM PDT by RWR8189

HERE'S WHY President Bush survives the gauntlet of three nationally televised debates: the Kerry contradiction. John Kerry is glib and knowledgeable and smart enough in his attacks on Bush to stop short of being overbearing and abrasive. But the dominant issue in the campaign is Iraq, and that's where the contradiction comes in. Kerry would have you believe that the war in Iraq is a horrible fiasco we never should have gotten into--and he's just the guy to win it. Does anyone really believe that, even Kerry himself? I doubt it.

The Kerry performance in the debate is likely to have the same effect as his speech at the Democratic convention in late July. The speech was lauded at the time as strong and persuasive--I thought so myself--but it didn't wear well. Within days, Kerry's lavishly touted record in Vietnam was under harsh scrutiny. And his failure to make an adequate case for his election was becoming clear. In the end, the convention speech raised more questions than it answered.

Instead of clearing up Kerry's contradictory position on Iraq, the debate last week highlighted it. Kerry, seemingly oblivious to how the contradiction sounds, stated it again and again, boldly and proudly. At one point, he said Bush made a "colossal error of judgment" in invading Iraq and toppling Saddam Hussein. "And Iraq is not even the center of the focus of the war on terror." As president, Kerry said he would change course and concentrate not on Iraq but on capturing Osama bin Laden and thwarting al Qaeda. Yet he went on to insist that he "can do a better job in Iraq. . . . I'm going to lead those troops to victory."

Victory? That's a word Kerry doesn't often use in relation to Iraq. He didn't use it in his September 20 speech that made the Iraq issue the top priority of his campaign. That speech, ballyhooed by the Kerry campaign as seminal, emphasized withdrawing American troops from Iraq, beginning in the first six months of his presidency and ending with all the troops coming home within four years. But 10 days later in the debate, there was no talk of withdrawal as Kerry took the victory tack on Iraq. "I believe that we have to win this," he said. "The president and I have always agreed on that."

Not quite. Kerry disagreed with Bush on the paramount need for military victory in Iraq in the September 20 speech and in practically everything he's said this year on Iraq. But now, Kerry said, he has a plan for winning in Iraq and he's the leader who can achieve victory.

Back on September 20, Kerry did vow to win the war on terrorism. "The terrorists are beyond reason," he declared. "We must destroy them. As president I will do whatever it takes, as long as it takes, to defeat our enemies. . . . To win, America must be strong and America must be smart." Fine, but this doesn't apply to Iraq because Kerry has never considered the war there as part of the war on terrorism.

Kerry got caught in a related Iraq contradiction in the debate, two of them actually. "The president made a mistake in invading Iraq," he said. Then moments later, when asked by moderator Jim Lehrer if Americans are dying in Iraq for a mistake, Kerry said no. That was a palpable contradiction. So what are Americans dying for? Kerry didn't have a compelling answer.

The other contradiction involved something Kerry called the "global test" that must be passed before taking preemptive military action against an enemy. Kerry insisted he would never allow another country to have veto power over any national security decision affecting America. But he said preemption was proper only when you pass "the global test where your countrymen, your people understand fully why you're doing what you're doing and you can prove it to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons." Kerry made no attempt to explain this contradiction.

Bush, a master of resolve and repetition but nobody's idea of a smooth talker, hammered Kerry on his contradictions. After Kerry said he "can get your kids home [from Iraq] and get the job done and win the peace," Bush delivered this retort: "I don't see how you can lead this country to succeed in Iraq if you say wrong war, wrong time, wrong place." Bush repeated the point several times, just as he questioned how Kerry could attract more allies to help in Iraq while criticizing the current ones as the "coerced and the bribed."

But Bush's responses during the debate aren't Kerry's biggest problem. Remember how the debate phenomenon works: What you say gets picked at and examined for days afterwards. If you commit a gaffe, that soundbite will be broadcast with merciless frequency on television. Neither Bush nor Kerry made such a flub last week. But a candidate who contradicts himself or leaves glaringly unanswered questions behind invites sharp and unpleasant media scrutiny. That's what Kerry left himself vulnerable to.

You don't have to take my word for it. In its lead editorial the morning after the debate, the Washington Post jumped on Kerry's lack of an answer to Bush's charge that a critic of the Iraq war who sends "mixed messages" couldn't lead American troops to victory and sign up new allies. Kerry's "argument that 'the real war on terrorism [is] in Afghanistan against Osama bin Laden' seemed to us unconvincing alongside Mr. Bush's repeated insistence that success in Iraq and on other fronts is equally vital to U.S. security." If the Post is unconvinced, others are bound to be as well.

 

Fred Barnes is executive editor of The Weekly Standard.

 


TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: barnes; debate; debates; firstdebate; foreignpolicy; fredbarnes; iraq; iraqwar; kerryiraq; theglobaltest; wariniraq; weeklystandard

1 posted on 10/02/2004 12:50:32 PM PDT by RWR8189
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To: RWR8189

really, Fred ?...ya think ???


2 posted on 10/02/2004 12:52:01 PM PDT by kingattax
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To: RWR8189

I still say this was a bold smart move on the Presidents part... Just let Kerry talk enough and he will double talk... Fred Barnes article is right on the money... The debate in a nutshell:

Kerry: Waffling, indecisive, flip-flop, double talk, politician.

Bush: Decisive, convinced, convicted, steadfast, leader, human.

so who really won?


3 posted on 10/02/2004 12:58:07 PM PDT by tomnbeverly (Don't let John Kerry put a price on our childrens heads bear any burden pay any cost elect GW.)
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To: RWR8189
Kerry called the "global test"


4 posted on 10/02/2004 12:59:19 PM PDT by Gucho
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To: RWR8189

"The other contradiction involved something Kerry called the "global test" that must be passed before taking preemptive military action against an enemy. Kerry insisted he would never allow another country to have veto power over any national security decision affecting America. But he said preemption was proper only when you pass "the global test where your countrymen, your people understand fully why you're doing what you're doing and you can prove it to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons." Kerry made no attempt to explain this contradiction."

Kerry is spinning this one now....He knows this one is a new one to hit him with..He complains he has been misunderstood.


5 posted on 10/02/2004 1:01:44 PM PDT by MEG33 (John Kerry has been AWOL on issues of national security for two decades)
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To: tomnbeverly

Interesting. Hadn't considered it that way. Sort of a rope a dope strategy. It makes sense too, Kerry is capable of saying anything to anyone at anytime. Or is that the wrong thing to the wrong people at the wrong time.
No wonder W looked fit to be tied, he had to put up with a passive role with finger buff boy. He probably wanted to go on the attack, but the plan was to let Kerry talk himself into a corner,


6 posted on 10/02/2004 1:05:10 PM PDT by ProudVet77 (Vietnam Veterans Reconciliation Day - 02NOV2004.)
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To: MEG33

Plus equating our research on nuclear bunker busters with rogue state nuclear proliferation.


7 posted on 10/02/2004 1:07:24 PM PDT by cincysux
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To: RWR8189

Kerry got the questions beforehand. Look at the transcript.

At one point he says to Lehrer, "I understand we'll be discussing homeland security later."

How did he know that?


8 posted on 10/02/2004 1:08:05 PM PDT by Peach (The Clinton's pardoned more terrorists than they ever captured or killed.)
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To: Peach
I believe you added.......I understand......but I did hear him say he'd discuss homeland security later.

No question that Kerry was well prepped and ready to go.

9 posted on 10/02/2004 1:12:49 PM PDT by OldFriend (It's the soldier, not the reporter who has given US freedom of the press)
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To: All
A SALUTE TO THE "GLOBAL TEST"

10 posted on 10/02/2004 1:13:19 PM PDT by Gucho
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To: RWR8189
only when you pass the global test

Here's a picture of Kofi Annan delivering the Ninth Heinz Distinguished Lecture at the University of Pittsburgh. Kofi took the opportunity to criticize President Bush. You can see the enlarged flags for UPitt, Heinz and the UN on the screen behind Kofi.

I wonder if those UPitt students who attended the lecture passed Kofi's Global Test afterwards.

11 posted on 10/02/2004 1:14:29 PM PDT by syriacus (All things work together for good to them that love God...who are called according to His purpose)
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To: Peach
At one point he says to Lehrer, "I understand we'll be discussing homeland security later."

How did he know that?

The debate subject matter, announced in advance, was "Foreign policy and homeland security."

12 posted on 10/02/2004 1:16:19 PM PDT by sinkspur ("John Kerry's gonna win on his juices. "--Cardinal Fanfani)
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To: sinkspur

You're probably right and I'm being paranoid. Kerry did so much better than I expected him to. And the president, well....


13 posted on 10/02/2004 1:20:54 PM PDT by Peach (The Clinton's pardoned more terrorists than they ever captured or killed.)
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To: tomnbeverly

You may be right on the money. What we took to be the lack of creative parrying by Bush may have been planned. Be consistent, stay on message, be repetitive if you have to, and let the other gut pontificate eloquently. In the end when both sets of responses are examined Kerry's become contradictory and vapid. Maybe the president's staff, knowing that Lehrer would not challenge Kerry's lies decided to have the President let most of them go, and be picked up in time for the Sunday shows.Just maybe these guys are smarter than anyone knows.


14 posted on 10/02/2004 1:25:02 PM PDT by xkaydet65 (" You have never tasted freedom my friend, else you would know, it is purchased not with gold, but w)
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To: syriacus

A freeper posted a prayer for the debates on the live thread on Thursday. My wife and I prayed and sat back and watched. Right after the debate I was pretty bummed out because of Bush's performance. But my wife, no political junkie, couldn't figure why.

"We didn't ask God to make Bush slick, but that He would guide our country and put the right man back in the White House. Kerry looked slick but I think (we soccer mom-types) were a lot more impressed with Bush's consistency and strength than with Kerry's slickness."

It turns out that she probably had a better take on the debates than I did.

Is it possible that He was strong through Bush's weakness?


15 posted on 10/02/2004 1:25:42 PM PDT by JusPasenThru (Why don't you go and doof your own boofen?)
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To: ProudVet77
Interesting. Hadn't considered it that way. Sort of a rope a dope strategy.

BINGO! That is exactly what it is. Let the dope talk and pummel him later. As they say in those Guinness ads, Brilliant!

16 posted on 10/02/2004 1:33:28 PM PDT by mc5cents ("We will have to take things away from you on behalf of the common good." Hillary Clinton)
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To: Peach
You're probably right and I'm being paranoid....

Better to be a bit paranoid than subversive. LOL. Peach but hard to blame you. This is an Idealogical and Existential war we are waging with Leftists and Postmodern proponents of International Law.

If they win, then the television set and movie theatres will be where to watch the further decline of Western civilization and subversion of traditional values (trashed in Hollywood which has already pushed the envelope so much it is torn).

Of this I have no doubt.

17 posted on 10/02/2004 1:34:08 PM PDT by Helms (nu-ance : [French, from Old French, from nuer, to shade, cloud, from nue, cloud, from Vulgar Latin ])
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To: RWR8189
But now, Kerry said, he has a plan...

Kerry seems to have alot of plans.

Just like a 45-rpm Juke box, you put your quarter in Kerry, make a selection, and out comes a plan. And just like a typical '45, Kerry's song/plan is a sound-bitish phrase that on the surface sounds good, but upon any deeper reflection has no meaning, and conflicts with most of his other songs.

18 posted on 10/02/2004 1:43:25 PM PDT by C210N
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To: RWR8189
Well RWR8189, Mr. Barnes is a little late with the analysis but please thank him for agreeing with me. This happened because Bush went to Yale too and knows how to set up guys like Kerry.

Posted by LZ_Bayonet to Conservative til I die On News/Activism 10/01/2004 1:17:19 PM PDT · 87 of 153

"Bush stunk up the joint last night. Stop drinking the Kool-Aid. He was awful and at times, looked like he wasn't sure what he was going to say next."

He looked like he wasn't sure what he was going to say next because Bush's plan was that the debate wasn't about Bush (why give the Dems anything new, everybody knows Bush), or Kerry's record (who could possible remember and cite all the past flip-flops). Bush's plan centered on making Kerry comfortable enough to say NEW stupid stuff and flip-flops and lies that could be, researched by others, cited now, discussed by the media, and used until the election. Your man Kerry got hustled. Bush just stuck to his same solid talking points and kept it low key and only challenged on solid points. And Kerry got a big head, like the arrogant do, and Kerry got comfortable and shot off his mouth about "the global test" and "cutting" as part of his Iraq plan and assorted other flip-flops. Now, post debate, your boy Kerry is getting cut to pieces over his new flip-flops, and the "global" thing (the only time Bush just HAD to depart from the plan and attack, as it was just too illustrative of Kerry's "America Last" stance to pass up).

19 posted on 10/02/2004 1:52:39 PM PDT by LZ_Bayonet
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To: MEG33
[Kerry] complains he has been misunderstood.

Must have been those SOB debate preppers.

20 posted on 10/02/2004 2:03:45 PM PDT by COBOL2Java (Don't tell my mother I work for CBS. She thinks I'm a towel boy in a bordello.)
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To: RWR8189
Kerry would have you believe that the war in Iraq is a horrible fiasco we never should have gotten into--and he's just the guy to win it. Does anyone really believe that, even Kerry himself?

Good question, Fred.

21 posted on 10/02/2004 2:05:51 PM PDT by T. Buzzard Trueblood (“our troops dispersed...only at the directive of the United Nations.” -John Kerry)
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To: LZ_Bayonet
Good analysis. I've read some of the threads from the first Bush/Gore debate in 2000. Bush had nearly the same performance and Gore was widely believed to have won the first debate. Gore subsequently was determined to be the loser in the wake of his own slickness based on the post-debate parsing.

Also, expectations were high for the President and much lower for Kerry in this debate. Next round, the expectations should be somewhat reversed.

22 posted on 10/02/2004 2:24:27 PM PDT by buzzsaw6 (26 year military vet still serving in the ANG)
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To: RWR8189
If the Post is unconvinced, others are bound to be as well.

Get it got it good. LOL so many worry warts today.

23 posted on 10/02/2004 2:27:38 PM PDT by Fatalis
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To: JusPasenThru

Great post!


24 posted on 10/02/2004 2:30:05 PM PDT by MEG33 (John Kerry has been AWOL on issues of national security for two decades)
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To: RWR8189
Bush and Cheney are going to beat Kerry/Edwards over the head repeatedly with that "Global Test"...until they are senseless.
25 posted on 10/02/2004 2:53:52 PM PDT by Dog
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To: RWR8189

It wouldn't be so bad if Bush lost the debate in a fair fight.

But he was sent up to the podium over-tired and under-prepped.

Bush was set up.

The goddamn campaign manager set him up.


26 posted on 10/02/2004 2:54:08 PM PDT by samtheman (www.swiftvets.com)
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To: mc5cents
Kerry hung himself with the Global Test comment....and is going to get nailed.

Watch what Cheney does to Edwards with the Global Test comment..

27 posted on 10/02/2004 2:56:15 PM PDT by Dog
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To: samtheman
Bush was set up.

No, he wasn't. He just lost his temper.
I did, too - all of the lies and nonsense Kerry was so glibly spouting was infuriating. I could scream at the tv and throw things, but Bush was supposed to remain calm. He didn't.

28 posted on 10/02/2004 3:12:50 PM PDT by speekinout
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To: speekinout

Bush was over-tired and under-prepared.

He ran out of material after 30 or 40 minutes.

That's the fault of his handlers, and you know it. Why are you resisting the obvious?


29 posted on 10/02/2004 3:14:48 PM PDT by samtheman (www.swiftvets.com)
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To: RWR8189

"Hey I've got a bright idea, lets give uranium to Iran"

J. Kerry
2004 Presidential Debate


30 posted on 10/02/2004 3:30:22 PM PDT by NavVet (“Benedeict Arnold was wounded in battle fighting for America, but no one remembers him for that.”)
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To: Gucho; All
UPDATED CAMPAIGN SIGN FROM KERRY CAMPAIGN.

PLEASE DISTRIBUTE WIDELY... if it passes your global test, of course.


31 posted on 10/02/2004 8:14:42 PM PDT by cpforlife.org (Am I a part of the cure? Or am I part of the disease? Singing.... You are, you are, you are)
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To: samtheman

His "handlers"?

I'm one of those who correctly called it a Bush win. You'll catch up eventually.


32 posted on 10/02/2004 8:31:19 PM PDT by cyncooper (Have I mentioned lately that I despise the media?)
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To: RWR8189
I was listening to Jay Severin on Friday.He mentioned how everyone was overlooking the fact that while Kerry was claiming that overthrowing Saddam Hussein was a violation of international law he also believes that sending US troops to stop the genocide in the Sudan is our "duty to humanity".
33 posted on 10/02/2004 8:36:34 PM PDT by CtBigPat (Madness takes its toll. Please use exact change.)
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To: samtheman

The debate or Iran and foreign policy should last about 4 minutes. Bush is for completing the job. Kerry is for whatever is popular at any given moment.

I wouldn't have lasted 4 minutes before I was across the stage going for the wet fart's throat.

Bush did fine. He has to beat Kerry and the media. Any mistatement or emotion would be spun (that means lie) out of control. Better that it was all boring and unwatchable.

No one decides anything based on the debates. The ID MSM already wrote the script and it's their boy won like Gore won.


34 posted on 10/02/2004 8:40:07 PM PDT by Joe_October (Saddam supported Terrorists. Al Qaeda are Terrorists. I can't find the link.)
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To: Peach
At one point he says to Lehrer, "I understand we'll be discussing homeland security later."

Very very astute. I heard that but didn't make the connection.

You just may be our next Buckhead!

35 posted on 10/02/2004 9:45:02 PM PDT by duckln
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To: samtheman

Still think that Rove was paid off by Kerry?


36 posted on 10/02/2004 9:46:37 PM PDT by COEXERJ145
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