The Corner

The View in Sullivan-Land

He gives the president better marks than in the last two debates. It’s a thoughtful and interesting set of posts. But he, along with most journalists, thinks that the president is doing something shady when he says that Kerry would let other countries veto our national-security policies. “Kerry has denied it a zillion times. Doesn’t the president at some point have to stop saying what is the opposite of the recorded truth?” I don’t think so. Sure, Kerry has denied the charge. But a lot of his multilateral rhetoric makes no sense unless there are circumstances in which he would let foreign opposition be a decisive reason not to do something he would otherwise want to do. Now at some abstract level, this has to be true for Bush as well. But Kerry would put a lot more weight on foreign opinion, and it strikes me as totally legitimate for Bush to say that the weight he would give to it amounts to an unacceptable foreign veto. Bush denies he would cut Social Security benefits all the time. If Kerry tried to point out, in an honest manner, that other things Bush wants would necessitate such cuts, that would be a legitimate hit too. (He has tried to make the case in a dishonest matter. Bush’s plans don’t have to result in benefit cuts of the type Kerry describes. The foreign-veto thing, on the other hand, is almost a logical necessity of Kerry’s stance.)

Also, Sullivan, who gives Kerry points for being more knowledgeable than Bush–a conclusion that can easily be drawn from the debates in general but not, I think, from this one–congratulates Kerry for “us[ing] the ban on AK-47s to buttress his tough stance on terrorism.” Shouldn’t Kerry at some point stop repeating, and journalists seconding, a talking point that is the opposite of the truth?

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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