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November 11, 2003
Kerry Campaign Turmoil Deepens

The turmoil in the Kerry campaign deepened as two key officials quit in protest over Jim Jordan's firing:

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry (news - web sites)'s press secretary and deputy finance director quit Tuesday, adding to the bitter turmoil on Kerry's team after the dismissal of his campaign manager. Robert Gibbs, chief spokesman for the Massachusetts lawmaker, and deputy finance director Carl Chidlow quit in reaction to the firing of Jim Jordan, abruptly let go by Kerry Sunday night. Both expressed dissatisfaction with the campaign, according to officials.

Kerry initiated the shake-up by firing Jordan, his campaign manager, to demonstrate that he intended to reverse the poor showing of his campaign against Howard Dean. Some Democrats feel that Kerry was the problem more than the people in his campaign, acting as if the nomination was his "entitlement". and allowing Dean's energy to blow him off of the stage. But IMHO, Kerry's problems started when he decided to run against his own record on the war, coming with contrived explanations that his vote authorizing the use of force against Iraq somehow communicated a requirement for unanimous international support. General Clark is running into the same buzz saw, especially now that he's tried to compare action in Iraq unfavorably to Kosovo. Andrew Sullivan writes in The New Republic (via Instapundit):

In a speech at the University of Iowa College of Law, on September 19th, Clark had declared that chief among America's mistakes was that it had gone to war in Iraq without "the mantle of authority" bestowed by United Nations approval. But hadn't the Kosovo war also been conducted without the endorsement of the U.N. Security Council? Yes, Clark allowed, and in that regard the Kosovo war was "technically illegal." He went on, "The Russians and the Chinese said they would both veto it. There was never a chance that it would be authorized." That situation did not seem entirely dissimilar from the prewar maneuverings regarding Iraq, when France and Germany said that they would oppose any Security Council resolution authorizing an immediate war; Bush bypassed the U.N. and resorted to an alliance with Prime Minister Tony Blair's Britain and sundry lesser members of the "coalition of the willing."

Sullivan tears into Clark for his explanation that Kososvo was legitimized by the threat of genocide, and that action against Iraq lacked any such legitimacy:

There are an estimated 300,000 mass graves in Iraq today. Saddam's genocidal campaigns against the Kurds and the Shia and the Marsh Arabs are and were no different than the monstrosities of Milosevic--except in scale and viciousness. Does Clark believe that leaving Saddam in power would have removed the "imminent threat" of further genocide and mass murder against the peoples of Iraq? Who is he kidding? Does he think that Uday and Qusay Hussein represented the hope of a more humane future? Of course not. If your criterion for intervention is the "imminent threat" of genocide, then Clark's defense of the Kosovo war necessitates an identical defense of the Iraq war. One more obvious distinction: Milosevic hadn't actually used gas or chemical weapons to kill civilians. Saddam did. Moreover, Milosevic had restricted his murderous military campaigns to the territories of the former Yugoslavia. Saddam had already launched wars against two neighboring states, Iran and Kuwait. A final point: Milosevic hadn't threatened the United States and hadn't attempted to assassinate the president of the United States. Saddam had. On humanitarian and realist grounds, toppling Saddam was far more legitimate than toppling Milosevic.

Both Kerry and Clark are twisting themselves into pretzels to discredit the war in Iraq, Kerry because of his vote to authorize force, and Clark in his clumsy attempts to claim that war against Milosevic was more legitimate than against Saddam Hussein. Not coincidentally, their contortions and lack of consistency are not playing well against Dean's wrongheaded but consistent opposition to the war, and the Democrat base has rewarded him with their support. In contrast, Dick Gephardt has stuck by his support of the war (while criticizing its prosecution), and has also received a bump in support, even surpassing Dean in Iowa in a recent poll. Kerry and Clark can fire all of the aides they want, but even a parade of campaign managers won't distract voters from the lack of intellectual honesty by both candidates.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 11, 2003 7:48 PM

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