Kerry Needs To Put Iraq Back Into The Campaign
Attacks in Iraq are on the upswing. There is talk that the US has lost control again of several key areas of the country, and talk of a civil war in the country is more and more frequent. Turkey is turning against us as well. The Administration says that this is to be expected in advance of the January elections, and if necessary the uncontrollable Sunni areas of the country will be excluded from the national elections, as if that wouldn’t undermine the legitimacy of the elections themselves.
Bush bashes Kerry all the time on Iraq, yet Kerry never fires back and demands Bush answer the obvious question: “Mr. Bush, instead of attacking me for not being specific about what to do in Iraq, exactly what in hell is your exit strategy? You’re the one accountable here, not me!”
Then you read a story like this from Knight-Ridder where a “senior administration official” either let their guard down anonymously, or is floating a trial balloon:
One senior administration official deeply engaged in Iraq policy said the new U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, the huge Central Intelligence Agency station there and the U.S. military command are working together far better than they previously did and collecting much better and more refined information on the insurgency. However, the official said, the recent improvements may not be enough to overcome setbacks caused by mistakes that date back to inadequate prewar planning.
"We've finally got our act together, but it's probably too late," said the official, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity because he's more pessimistic than the administration's official line on Iraq.
What the f**k?
Why shouldn’t Kerry throw down the gauntlet? It’s time to say "Mr. President, it is clear you’ve bungled the pre-war planning and post war occupation. If you can’t give the American people a plan for dealing with the current crisis and an exit strategy, then you owe it to the country to get us out of there. And no, bombing the hell out of the country and killing hundreds and thousands of innocent Iraqis isn't a strategy!"
Put Bush for once on the defensive and make him respond. Make him justify our current policy over there and try and rationalize why the country is spiraling out of control. Make him say that things are difficult but will get better, and then have those assurances contrasted each night with the reports of more deaths and destruction from Iraq. And then say each and every day between now and the debates "This man has no clue what he is doing over there."
Use this to batter him in the weeks leading up to the first debate. Challenging Bush directly on Iraq and demanding that he put up or shut up will not only re-energize the base but also put the responsibility where it lies. It is not Kerry’s responsibility to be specific on Iraq, it is Bush’s responsibility to be accountable for the failures and to explain what he plans to do about it.
Senator, don't walk away from Iraq as a campaign issue. There was a reason why the White House tied Iraq to the war on terrorism: they wanted to keep you from attacking them on Iraq, so they have turned Iraq into an extension on the sacrosanct war on terra'.
Don' t let them get away with walking away from Iraq as a campaign issue. Remind voters that only by Bush's bungling has Iraq turned into something related to the war on terra'. Challenge them directly on Iraq and hold the president accountable. He can't pull it off. The reality on the ground is there for all to see, and once you make it a key campaign issue once again, the media will once again begin covering it more closely.
Senator, go after him on Iraq.
Update: As commenter NJ Brian kindly tells us, as if on cue Kerry started this exact line of argument this morning on the Imus show:
"What you ought to be doing, and what everybody in America ought to be doing today, is not asking me. They ought to be asking the president, what's your plan?" Kerry told Imus. "What's your plan, Mr. President, to stop these kids from being killed?"
Good catch Brian, and good job Senator. Now keep it up.