Thursday, August 12


Daily Howler today finds the perfect sound-byte-size responses to Kerry's two greatest vulnerabilities IN THE UNLIKELIEST PLACES.

(1) Kerry's vote on the Iraq "war resolution."

On Tuesday, Bush was out playing the rubes, pretending that Kerry had said things he didn’t on Monday. Indeed, Brit Hume just flat-out said so, chatting last night with the all-stars:

BUSH (shown on videotape): [Kerry] now agrees it was the right decision to go into Iraq. Knowing everything we know today, he would have voted to go into Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein from power. I want to thank Senator Kerry for clearing that up.

HUME (8/11/04): Well that line got a big cheer, as you saw yesterday when the president said it. But what Senator Kerry has said is not quite as the president has characterized it...Basically what Kerry has said, correct me if I'm wrong, is, Look, I would have wanted the authority if I'd been president. That's why I voted to grant this authority to go to war to the president...But he said he would have used it differently. He would have used it to as more of a lever for diplomacy. He would have used it to bring more allies aboard. He would have used it to as a threat behind inspections, to leave them going longer.[emphasis mine]

(2) Kerry's vote on the $87 billion war-funding bill.

On Monday, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer seemed deeply kerflubbled by something Kerry rep Susan Rice said (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/11/04). Rice mentioned a notable fact. Bush constantly trashes Kerry for voting against that $87 billion funding bill—the one the Congress passed last October. But six days after Kerry’s “no” vote, Bush began threatening to veto the bill! Had Kerry failed “to support the troops” by his vote? Bush was willing to veto the very same money! ...Last October, Blitzer interviewed Colin Powell—nine days after Kerry voted “no” on a form of the bill he didn’t like. But by now, Bush was saying he’d veto the bill if it passed in a form which he disfavored. In particular, Bush said he would veto the bill if its $20 billion in reconstruction money was made in the form of loans, not grants. [emphasis mine] And Blitzer knew all about the threat. Indeed, he asked Powell about it:

BLITZER (10/26/03): As you know, the Senate wants half of that $20 billion to be in the form of loans, half in grants. The House says all of it should be in the form of outright grants. The president is threatening to veto the entire $87 billion unless all of that $20 billion is a grant. Is that a hard-and-fast position, as the House and Senate conferees resolve this issue?

POWELL: Yes, it is. The president feels very strongly that it should be a grant. We need to get this country up and running quickly. And I was quite taken, at the Madrid conference I attended, where the U.N. representative, Mark Malloch Brown, from the U.N. Development Program, said it should be a grant. We need this infusion of dollars as we structure, over a longer period of time, the influx of grants and loans on a long-term basis.
Bush’s threat was “hard-and fast,” Powell said! If the bill was passed with loans, Bush was going to kill it.

Let’s say it again: There was nothing wrong with Bush’s preference for grants. There was nothing wrong with his veto threat, either. But there is something wrong with Bush’s dissembling when he goes out on the campaign trail. Bush trashes Kerry, every day, for voting against one form of this bill. “There's nothing complicated about supporting our troops,” Bush says. But alas! This statement is plainly fake, given Bush’s own veto threat. Given the way Bush keeps pounding this point, is it time for Wolf Blitzer to notice?

Final note: “We need to get [Iraq] up and running quickly,” Powell said. That’s why Bush insisted the money should be in grants. But a year has gone by, and almost none of this money has been spent. Any chance that Kerry (and others) were right when they said they wanted a plan before they gave Bush the $20 billion? And now that he knows the facts once again, can someone explain why Blitzer himself shouldn’t be asking this question?

Memorize the bolded portions and spread the word!


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