Bush Campaign Lies

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Bush Campaign Lie #74: KerryOnIraq.com 

A commenter to the previous post brought this site to my attention (congratulations, Jacqueline, you're famous!). At first I was dismayed, because I've set myself the ground rule that only public statements by Bush administration or campaign officials, or material from the Bush campaign or RNC is fair game for this site.

But if you navigate away from the main page of kerryoniraq.com, to the 'Submit Your Review' page, there's a tiny notice at the bottom stating 'Paid for by the Republican National Committee'. It's almost like the RNC is trying to hide the fact that they produced the video. Wonder why that is?

The video is a masterful bit of propaganda. It only contains a few artfully edited video clips taking Kerry's statements out of context, while most of them are fairly edited clips, providing a full and complete account of Kerry's words. Such a mix of legitimate and out-of-context video is essential, because it gives the sense that all of the clips you're seeing fairly portray Kerry's point of view. You're so impressed with the faux-fairness of the video that you hardly notice the cutesy 'Flipper' music in the background.

But propaganda it is. For me to thoroughly debunk it would be redundant, since I've answered the video's most 'serious' charges --- especially the tiresome talk of Kerry's infamous vote against the $87 billion Iraq appropriations bill --- here, and here, and here.

But Kerry's position on Iraq is so straightforward, let's just do this. Watch the Kerry On Iraq video --- it runs 12:38, get good and comfy --- then read Kerry's statement from Friday's debate:

"He's trying to attack me. He wants you to believe that I can't be president. And he's trying to make you believe it because he wants you to think I change my mind.

Well, let me tell you straight up: I've never changed my mind about Iraq. I do believe Saddam Hussein was a threat. I always believed he was a threat. Believed it in 1998 when Clinton was president. I wanted to give Clinton the power to use force if necessary.

But I would have used that force wisely, I would have used that authority wisely, not rushed to war without a plan to win the peace.

I would have brought our allies to our side. I would have fought to make certain our troops had everybody possible to help them win the mission.

This president rushed to war, pushed our allies aside. And Iran now is more dangerous, and so is North Korea, with nuclear weapons. He took his eye off the ball, off of Osama bin Laden."
Now, I believe that the following is a fair summary of what Kerry said:

  1. Kerry believed Saddam was a threat at least as far back as 1998.
  2. Kerry wanted to give the President, whether that President was Clinton or Bush, the authority to use force since at least 1998. Please note that authorizing the use of force is not the same thing as saying 'invade immediately', especially not in the case of H.J. Res 114, which authorized the use of force in Iraq.
  3. If military force was used, it should be done 'with a plan to win the peace'.
  4. If military force was used, it should be done with 'our allies (by) our side'.
  5. By focusing on Iraq, Bush has failed to address more serious threats in Korea and Iran, and fumbled our best chance to really squash Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda.
Now, watch the video again, and try to find any instance of Kerry contradicting these points. While you're watching, note also how Kerry continually emphasizes the need to let inspections run their course, and the need to work with the international community.

Next, let's go back to Friday night's debate and review Kerry's criticisms of Bush after the invasion:

"The president stood right here in this hall four years ago, and he was asked a question by somebody just like you, 'Under what circumstances would you send people to war?'

And his answer was, 'With a viable exit strategy and only with enough forces to get the job done.'

He didn't do that. He broke that promise. We didn't have enough forces.

General Shinseki, the Army chief of staff, told him he was going to need several hundred thousand. And guess what? They retired General Shinseki for telling him that.

This president hasn't listened.

I went to meet with the members of the Security Council in the week before we voted. I went to New York. I talked to all of them to find out how serious they were about really holding Saddam Hussein accountable.

I came away convinced that, if we worked at it, if we were ready to work and letting Hans Blix do his job and thoroughly go through the inspections, that if push came to shove, they'd be there with us.

But the president just arbitrarily brought the hammer down and said, 'Nope. Sorry, time for diplomacy is over. We're going.'

He rushed to war without a plan to win the peace.

Ladies and gentleman, he gave you a speech and told you he'd plan carefully, take every precaution, take our allies with us. He didn't. He broke his word."
And yes, you nitpicky trolls, Kerry was technically incorrect when he said that the Bush administration 'retired' Shinseki. In actuality, they merely made him a lame duck by announcing his retirement 18 months early, in the hopes that he would resign. This pretty much amounts to the same thing.

I don't remember who first gave this pithy summary of Kerry's position on Iraq, but it can be summed up like this:

'I gave Bush the authority to use force in Iraq, and Bush fucked it up.'

Is that simple enough to understand? Any video on the RNC site which shows Kerry criticizing the war either includes criticism of Bush's conduct of the war, or has been edited so you don't see it.

Consistently, throughout the whole RNC propaganda piece, Kerry emphasizes the need to allow inspections to run their course before considering military action. And since inspections need to be backed by the threat of force in order to be effective, Kerry authorized the use of force. Of course, we now know that had inspections run their course, we would have discovered that Iraq was less of a threat than it had been before the first Gulf War. And we could have kept our attention on rooting out al Qaeda, or turned our focus to Iran or North Korea. And more than 1,000 American soldiers wouldn't have died. Thousands more would not have been injured. $200 billion could have been spent to fight al Qaeda, or beef up DHS, or fund NCLB, or keep the deficit from growing quite so large.

And America and the world would be more secure.

If the electorate were to focus on these facts, there would be no way for Bush to defend himself, because his record is clearly indefensible. So the Bush campaign has manufactured the myth that Kerry is all wishy-washy and confused, so people will focus on that instead of Bush's incompetence. It's masterful, really.

10:14 PM