Skip to comments.Fred Barnes: Debate Hangover (Some things Kerry said may come back to haunt him)
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.
really, Fred ?...ya think ???
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?
"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.
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,
Plus equating our research on nuclear bunker busters with rogue state nuclear proliferation.
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?
No question that Kerry was well prepped and ready to go.
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.
How did he know that?
The debate subject matter, announced in advance, was "Foreign policy and homeland security."
You're probably right and I'm being paranoid. Kerry did so much better than I expected him to. And the president, well....
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.
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?
BINGO! That is exactly what it is. Let the dope talk and pummel him later. As they say in those Guinness ads, Brilliant!
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.
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.
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).
Must have been those SOB debate preppers.