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August 25, 2004
Kerry Flips Again On Iraq (Or Is This One A Flop?)

The Kerry campaign yesterday issued what must be its seventh or eighth position on ousting Saddam Hussein from power. Jim VanderHei writes in today's Washington Post that the official word on Saddam from Kerry's advisors is that he'd still be running Iraq today had Kerry been president:

A top national security adviser to John F. Kerry said yesterday that he made a mistake when he said the Democratic nominee probably would have launched a military invasion to oust Saddam Hussein if he had been president during the past four years.

On Aug. 7, Jamie Rubin told The Washington Post that "in all probability" a Kerry administration would have waged war against Iraq by now if the Massachusetts Democrat were president. ...

"To the extent that my own comments have contributed to misunderstanding on this issue. . . . I never should have said the phrase 'in all probability' because that's not Kerry's position and he's never said it," Rubin said in a statement. "That was my mistake."

So Rubin and the Kerry campaign now endorse the continued oppression of the Iraqi people? They're just fine with the torture, rape rooms, and the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis that got planted in mass graves? Funny, because for the past 18 days, they've led us to believe that John Kerry would have been just as tough on Saddam as George Bush.

In fact, for 18 days, the Bush campaign has used Rubin's "mistake" as a talking point for its appearances. Bush himself referred to it when he came to St. Paul last week, and added rather presciently, "But I'm sure he'll change his mind again." VanderHei notes that Republicans such as Bush campaign director Ken Mehlman have also noted the similarity in television interviews, such as just this past Sunday on Meet The Press.

So why did it take so long for Rubin to clarify that Kerry's tough stance on Saddam was false?

Some Kerry advisers said Rubin's comments played right into Bush's hands and wanted the record set straight before it exploded into a bigger political issue. Rubin, a State Department official in the Clinton administration who often travels with the candidate, agreed, aides said.

This points to something that often recurs in Kerry's campaign; John Kerry continually redefining himself as the Not-Bush. Kerry can make campaign statements about realigning US forces overseas, especially in Europe and Asia, until Bush proposes an actual realignment after studying the issue for three years. All of a sudden, Kerry opposes realignment. Kerry doesn't make policy statements based on convictions any more, if he ever did -- he just calculates what his answers should be based on whatever comes from the Bush campaign.

Would John Kerry have ever done anything about Saddam Hussein, other than try to talk him to death? Based on the vacillation and confusion among Kerry's own advisors, it appears that inaction and rhetoric would have been elevated to high strategy in a Kerry White House. All we hear is that Kerry wouldn't have gone to war the way Bush did, which means that he wouldn't have gone to the UN Security Council for five months, tried convincing those countries with their hands deep into Saddam's overflowing pockets to end their gravy trains, and when they refused to do so put together a coalition of nations who weren't corrupt to free Iraq and put an end to an ongoing security threat to the US.

But hey, don't worry about it. Just check back with Kerry in another 18 days.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 25, 2004 5:36 AM

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