President Bush’s supporters are left thinking about the debate that wasn’t. It might have gone something like this, with John Kerry’s remarks in quotes and those of some mythological incumbent president following:
”I know I can do a better job in Iraq. I have a plan to have a summit with all of the allies.”
(1) We’re already planning a regional summit; (2) a summit is just a meeting–it won’t necessarily make any difference in Iraq; and (3) France and Germany, by the way, have said they won’t send troops even if you are elected. Zut alors!
“… once there [in Iraq], we could have continued those inspections.”
Saddam Hussein allowed the inspectors into Iraq only because of the military threat against him. We couldn’t have maintained that credible threat forever, and, as you know (or should), credibility is the backbone of deterrence.
“… $200 billion that could have been used for health care, for schools, for construction, for prescription drugs …”
So, you’re saying that we should have tried to do Iraq on the cheap? For me, it is worth any price to keep America secure.
“[Bush has] got 10 times the number of troops in Iraq than he has in Afghanistan, where Osama bin Laden is.”
Uh, how do you know where Osama bin Laden is?
“You don’t send troops to war without the body armor that they need.”
Please, senator. You voted against the $87 billion bill to pay for their body armor.
“That’s why they had to close down the subways in New York when the Republican Convention was there.”
The subways stayed open. Just ask the MTA (that’s the Metropolitan Transit Authority, by the way).
“And we don’t have enough troops there.”
But you said you wanted to start pulling troops out within six months. What are you going to do, put in more troops for two-week tours? And since you say we’ve been spending too much in Iraq, how exactly are you going to fund these additional troops?
“Long before President Bush and I get a tax cut–and that’s who gets it–long before we do…”
Wait a minute. You spent much of your primary campaign beating up on Howard Dean for suggesting that my tax cuts went only to the rich. You yourself said a middle-class family of four got a $2,000 tax cut.
“I’m going to hold that summit…”
Senator, your repetition bores me. Don’t you have anything else to say about Iraq besides holding that meeting?
“When I talked about the $87 billion, I made a mistake in how I talk about the war.”
No, you made a mistake in how you voted on the war. Big difference.
“This president hasn’t even held the kind of statesmenlike summits that pull people together.”
There you go again with the summits. How jejune.
“…to save for Halliburton the spoils of war…”
That’s a smear, senator. Halliburton is doing exactly the same kind of work in Iraq that it did for the Clinton administration in Bosnia.
“The United Nations, Kofi Annan, offered help after Baghdad fell.”
You obviously haven’t been paying attention. The United Nations fled Iraq after its headquarters was bombed last August. Sergio de Mello was killed in the blast. You might have heard of him. Good man.
“I believe that Ronald Reagan…did that more effectively.”
Don’t invoke Reagan when you opposed his arms buildup that won the Cold War.
“You don’t help yourself when you turn away from the global-warming treaty.”
In the 1990s the Senate voted 95 to 0 not to adopt the Kyoto Treaty in its present form. Your party’s platform doesn’t even mention the treaty–at least I didn’t see it in there on my first reading.
“I’ve never wavered in my life.”
Senator, you’ve wavered on the war, on NAFTA, on No Child Left Behind, on the Patriot Act. There’s hardly anything in this campaign that you haven’t wavered on. See you in St. Louis.
–Rich Lowry is author of Legacy: Paying the Price for the Clinton Years.
(c)2004 King Features Syndicate