Fournier's Pro-Bush Bias, And Another Missed Kerry Opportunity
It’s always interesting to see how Ron Fournier of the AP can manage to turn a story on Kerry into a negative. Note his story this afternoon on Kerry’s speech to the VFW, wherein Kerry lamely opposed Bush’s recent call to withdraw and redeploy 70,000 troops currently stationed in Europe and Asia. But more on that later. First, in the piece on Kerry’s VFW speech, Fournier only went three paragraphs into the story before he dredged up the current flap from the Mighty Wurlitzer over Kerry’s military service. Note that the Reuters reporter in her write-up never even mentioned the attacks against Kerry’s record.
These attacks against Kerry’s record, pushed by people with little or no credibility, and Fournier’s placement of them into an unrelated story on Kerry’s reaction to Bush’s troop redeployment proposal show why the right wing does such character assassinations when the issues don’t favor them: because they work and because Camp Kerry has been limp in responding. When someone like Fournier goes for the bait and runs the negative angle on Kerry up in the third paragraph of an unrelated story, you know that Rove is a happy guy.
As for Kerry’s reaction to Bush’s proposal, I found it lacking. It seems like the campaign just jumped out and took a position for the sake of being opposed to something Bush proposed. A plausible argument can be made that the timing of this proposal is faulty and suspect, when you consider that the proposed redeployments are months if not years down the road and would pull soldiers out of Europe and South Korea when we are in the middle of multi-nation talks with Pyongyang and trying to commit our allies to a multi-year international war against terror. Bush’s message also sends a finger in the eye to the Guardsmen and Reservists in Iraq, and their families who can realistically question the president on why if these professional soldiers are now not needed in Europe and South Korea, why shouldn’t they be redeployed now to Iraq so that our Guardsmen and Reservists can return home now to guard the homeland?
The standard response for the White House in these cases is for them to say that Kerry doesn’t understand the threat we face. But that is precisely the angle Kerry could have used against Bush in responding to Bush’s redeployment proposal. Kerry needed to remind the VFW that Bush has never explained how such a major redeployment plays into our ongoing war against terror or our current understaffing of the Iraqi mission. Kerry attempted but didn't point out the flawed but obviously political decisionmaking whereby Bush is now saying that professional soldiers aren’t needed in forward spots in Europe and South Korea, yet he decides against sending them now to where they are so badly needed in Iraq to relieve the Guard and Reservists. Kerry could have asked plainly why this proposal seems to have been hatched, as admitted by the White House, for political reasons to please swing voters without a lot of thought for what it means in Iraq, the Middle East, or in the war on terror.
And lastly, Kerry could have used the appearance at the VFW to point out that the reason Bush hasn’t explained how the troop redeployment figures into our long-range war on terror is because the Bush Administration, three years after 9/11, still doesn’t have a long-range strategy on how to fight the war on terror. So how can you realistically expect Bush to do anything beyond using the troops as political props when it is Bush, not Kerry, who still to this day has shown he doesn’t understand the threat we face?