Did Kerry Really Say That? Take Two

A while ago I wrote that “It’s getting harder and harder to tell the real John Kerry (assuming for a moment that there is a real John Kerry) from the pathetic ‘I voted for it before I voted against it’ caricature portrayed in the Bush ads.”

Now it’s even harder. He apparently said the following last week to the Unity minority journalists:

I believe I can fight a more effective, more thoughtful, more strategic, more proactive, more sensitive war on terror that reaches out to other nations and brings them to our side and lives up to American values in history.

Can it be long before the Bush people come up with an ad asking all those in favor of “more sensitive war” against terrorism to please vote for Kerry?


So, Kerry would be “more proactive” than Bush … but less pre-emptive. Whew, I’m glad we’ve got that cleared up.

UPDATE [13 August 10:50AM]

According to an article in the Washington Post this morning, Vice President Cheney “mocked the Democratic nominee” for calling for a more “sensitive” war against terrorism. Both Cheney and the president, say reporters Dan Balz and Mark Leibovich, “have seized on several recent Kerry statements to question his fitness to lead the nation during wartime.”

Since Kerry’s comments were floating toward the plate like a fat, slow pitch, I’m not sure “seized on” is the appropriate verb here, but never mind. What I find interesting is the response of the Kerry team to this criticism:

Retired Army Gen. Wesley K. Clark, speaking for the campaign, called Cheney’s comments “outrageous….”

“As they’ve seen polls and seen the rising respect people have for John Kerry, they’re more determined than ever to run a personal attack campaign,” Clark said in a telephone interview. “They don’t have a good record to defend, and so they’ve fallen back on personal attacks. It’s the lowest form of politics.”

Nor was Clark the only uniform Kerry called on for re-inforcement.

Retired Air Force Gen. Merrill McPeak, another Kerry supporter, contrasted Kerry’s service in Vietnam with Bush’s service in the Texas National Guard and Cheney’s lack of military service. “Do the president and vice president really want to have a debate about who is more suited to fight the war in Iraq and the war on terror?” he said in a statement. “Do they really want a debate about which candidate has the toughness to make America stronger?”

I don’t speak for the Bush campaign, but I would think the answer to that question is “yes.”

In sign of the Kerry campaign’s determination to rebut the criticism, it also issued a statement signed by 10 former senior military officials, including McPeak and Clark, denouncing Cheney’s attacks as “gutter” politics.

I’ve been confused for a while, but I think I’ve got it now: any criticism of Kerry on any stand he’s taken (or the opposite stand he had taken in the past) is “gutter politics.”

Say What? (2)

  1. Andrew Lazarus August 14, 2004 at 12:58 am | | Reply

    I agree (only) insofar as the initial Democratic rebuttal is an unfortunate reversion to whining instead of counterattack.

    On the merits, Kerry is way ahead. Did you notice that such success as we’ve had in the war on terrorism arises from that much-derided “law enforcement” response? The sideshow in Iraq doesn’t seem to have impinged on stateless terrorism in the least (see under: Madrid). So why support a president who sent his Secy of State to snow-job our allies (and the rest of the world), who espouses a new and unprecedented doctrine of pre-emption, who antagonized even the British with unlawful detention of friendly nationals at Gitmo, &c? Kerry doesn’t say he’s going to be more sensitive to Al Qaeda. If Kerry is more sensitive to the desires of our nominal allies, why yes indeed I think he will make the country far safer.

  2. Andrew Lazarus August 14, 2004 at 1:23 am | | Reply

    I know it’s rude to follow up my own post, but this link with Bush, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Cheney [!], and others using “sensitive” in much the same way as Sen. Kerry is too good not to share.

    The internal GOP polls must be very weak, that they’re reduced to parsing Kerry’s speeches for hypocritical gotchas based on semantic distortion.

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