The Corner

Bush in Allentown

This morning–he sounds much better than he did last night. Excerpts:

“My opponent last night said our troops deserve better. They certainly deserve better than they got from Senator Kerry when he voted to send them to war, and then voted against funding our troops in combat. . . .

“You may remember his famous quote about the supplemental funding that I sent up to Congress. He said: I actually did vote for the $87 billion, right before I voted against it. . . . Last night, he said he made a mistake in how he talked about that vote. But the mistake wasn’t what Senator Kerry said. The mistake was what Senator Kerry did. . . .

“He said he was proud of his vote. And, finally, he said the whole thing was a complicated matter. Then he had a new wrinkle, a new explanation. During an interview this week, he described it as a protest vote.

“When we put American troops in harm’s way, they certainly deserve better than to have a candidate for President use them as a protest.

“Last night, Senator Kerry only continued his pattern of confusing contradictions. After voting for the war, after saying my decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power was the right decision — (applause) — he now says it was all a mistake.

“But asked a logical question, does that mean our troops are dying for a mistake? [AUDIENCE: No!]

“That’s what he said, no. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t say it’s a mistake and not a mistake. You can’t be for getting rid of Saddam Hussein when things look good, and against it when times are hard. You can’t claim terrorists are pouring across the border into Iraq, yet at the same time try to claim that Iraq is somehow a diversion for war against terrorism. The President cannot keep changing his mind. The President must speak clearly. And the President must mean what he says. . . .

“The cornerstone of Senator Kerry’s plan for Iraq is that he would convene a summit.

“I’ve been to a lot of summits. I’ve never seen a meeting that would depose a tyrant, or bring a terrorist to justice. . . .

“One other point I want to make about the debate last night. Senator Kerry last night said that America has to pass some sort of global test before we can use American troops to defend ourselves. He wants our national security decisions subject to the approval of a foreign government.

“Listen, I’ll continue to work with our allies and the international community — but I will never submit America’s national security to an international test. The use of troops to defend America must never be subject to a veto by countries like France. The President’s job is not to take an international poll — the President’s job is to defend America.”

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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